January 18, 2017
It can be easy to assume that municipalities, provinces, countries, or even large companies have unlimited resources of income. This is not the case with any of them.
The budget of a municipality is not that much different than that of a household. There are income sources and expenses. Money comes in, and money goes out. Every household has it’s sources of income. From that, the mortgage, car payment, groceries, and other necessities must be paid. Not fun stuff, but the necessities of life. At the end of the day, provided there weren’t any emergencies with the house or vehicle, maybe a holiday can be afforded.
Chetwynd has a few sources of income. A portion of the property taxes within the municipality, industrial taxes, service fees, some recurring grants and a large sum from the Peace Region Agreement are the main sources of income. From that District Staff and Employees are paid, and services are delivered. Water and sewer systems are kept functional, roads are plowed, sanded, and repaired, and garbage is collected. Like the mortgage, car payment, and groceries, this chews up most of our money. All of these expenses are referred to as operating expenses, the day to day operations of the town. It is important to note that all of these functions are carried out by the District Administration Staff and Employees. Mayor and Council do not dispatch sand trucks or say who’s garbage gets picked up at what time. Mayor and Council reviews and approves an operating budget for these tasks.
The money that is left over, is available for capital projects. These projects are along the lines of new development, like a skate park or splash park, or major upgrades like road resurfacing or a sewer treatment plant. This is where your Mayor and Council become very involved. There are always far more ideas for projects then there is money. How we would love to spend it all on fun stuff. I’m sure there is no one who wouldn’t rather go to Vancouver, to watch the Canucks beat the Oilers, than put a new roof on the house. However, the new roof should take priority. Thankfully, the Canuck’s victory can be viewed in a home that, thanks to wise spending, doesn’t have a leaky roof. The essential services to the citizens of Chetwynd, such as water and sewer systems, must take priority. This doesn’t mean that a portion of the capital spending shouldn’t go toward projects like a splash park or lighting on the walking trails. It means there has to be a balance, and that balance will be weighed heavily toward essential services.
Please know, that at times planning these capital projects takes much time and energy. Other times, planning is very simple, as all too often, disasters dictate where capital is spent. Very careful consideration and debate is given to where tax dollars are spent. Not Everyone will ever agree with every expense or project, but these decisions are never made lightly.