Crossfield Mayor Kim Harris acknowledged her council will face budget challenges in 2023, but felt there are still a lot of positives to draw out of the past year for the community.
Referring to some of the highlights and achievements of 2022 such as a new five-year strategic plan, new Town HR policies, and a series of affordable and targeted upgrades to local rinks, parks, and amenities, Harris stated there have been “a lot of little wins, for sure.”
Harris commended Town staff and her fellow councillors for doing a lot with a little as inflationary cost pressures, reduced provincial grants for infrastructure, and the ongoing downloading of costs onto local municipalities from the provincial government continued in 2022.
Harris said these financial pressures as well as the general unavailability of products and increasing costs in almost every aspect of Crossfield's budget not only impacted local businesses and residents but have forced council to rethink levels of service for residents.
“All of the above challenges have been difficult to navigate a budget that maintains Crossfield’s assets and provides some new services for our residents,” stated Harris. “I think that we have done a good job at balancing projects and staying within our means. Moving forward we will tie our strategic planning processes that were completed in 2022 to prepare Crossfield for growth, manage our assets and plan for any improvements over the next few years. The planned replacement of our arena ice plant will be a project that is completed in 2023.”
That being said, Harris did acknowledge taxes would likely be going up to some degree when council passes its final 2023 budget later this spring. According to Harris, that increase is projected to be anywhere between three to seven per cent.
“[The] 2023 Provisional Operational Budget was passed in November and will be finalized in late March or early April after the 2022 Audit,” explained Harris. “The 2023 Capital budget was also passed with the caveat being construction on any [and] all projects, with the exception of the arena, are on hold until after the 2022 Audit is completed so that council has a better idea of Crossfield’s financial position moving forward.”
Council will also examine the fee and charge structures for local services, re-evaluate existing service levels, and seek to leverage regional partnerships to apply for grants for local infrastructure projects wherever possible, said Harris.
“In the new year, Crossfield will continue to meet challenges with positive solutions and help our Town grow in a meaningful way,” she stated.