Warfield council is tightening the belt for their taxpayers this year by choosing not to give themselves a raise and by lowering the budget for a key municipal conference that goes annually in early fall.
“Council did not take an increase in their stipend this year and decided to reduce the UBCM convention budget as well in an effort to reduce operating costs,” Mayor Diane Langman told the Trail Times.
That means the yearly stipend for the mayor will remain $11,132 and for the four councillors, $7,750 each.
Following a deep dive into the 2022 budget and longer term financial planning, last month council reviewed and approved the village’s five year plan over three committee of the whole meetings.
What came up during this review, Langman says, is the need for the municipality to allocate more funds toward capital and infrastructure replacement.
Therefore, the five-year plan includes incremental increases to the level of capital funding as part of ensuring the village’s fixed assets are appropriately maintained and replaced. Langman encourages Warfield citizens take a look at the 2022-2026 financial plan on the village’s website: Warfield.ca.
As far as this year’s budget, Langman says the total 2022 consolidated capital budget approved is $1.199 million, which will be funded from a variety of sources.
“One of the most significant items being addressed this year deals with finalizing the preliminary design and budget for the new water intake,” she said.
Langman is referring to the 2008 agreement between the village and Teck Metals, Warfield’s historical water purveyor. It stipulates that by 2025 the municipality would have its own treated water source up and running. Then, in 2019, Warfield council successfully negotiated a one-year extension with Teck to 2026.
Council’s goal is to have cost estimates ready for review later this year, and at such time, residents will be advised as engineering work and planning continues.
Another provision in this year’s budget is to increase service levels back to pre-pandemic days, though this may be easier said than done.
“One area of concern in this regard is finding qualified lifeguarding staff to work at the pool,” Langman explained. “All pools in the region are currently experiencing similar concerns and the final level of service at the pool will be significantly influenced by the number of lifeguarding staff the village is able to hire.”
Of note, Warfield’s financial plan bylaw and property tax rates bylaw will be considered and adopted by council over the next eight weeks.
Another reset to the pre-pandemic way of doing business, is that Warfield council will recommence in-person meetings.
“Right now we are still meeting through Zoom but making the transition to in-person again hopefully soon,” Langman explained. “We have had some recent renovations that were being done to the Warfield village office using some of our COVID recovery money, so council chambers has been unavailable,” she added.
“But that work is almost complete so we should be making the transition soon. Dates and times are still the same.”
Finally, Langman says the village received some welcome news from Columbia Basin Trust in regards to the backing of a family-friendly outdoor activity.
“We have received a grant to assist in the funding for a nine-hole disc golf course at Dickens Park,” she said. “It is hoped that installation of the nets and signage will take place later this spring.”
Council pay raises
As Warfield decides not to take a raise this year, Rossland council almost doubled its annual stipend starting in 2023. On March 14 Rossland council members adopted their wage hike into law. The new Alpine City mayor will receive $30,000 annually and council members, $15,000, compared to about $19,000 and $9,600 the current mayor and councillors are paid. This move came after council reviewed its remuneration bylaw and found their stipends were among the lowest in towns of similar size.
As well, in a split vote, Trail council took their annual two per cent wage increase. Mayor Lisa Pasin asked council to forego a raise this year, until after the Oct. 15, 2022 civic election. Councillors Robert Cacchioni, Carol Dobie, Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson and Colleen Jones opposed and voted in favour of their annual raise. Coun. Paul Butler and Mayor Pasin opposed. For 2022, each of the six councillors will each be paid $18,896 and the mayor, $40,214.