The RM of Rockwood’s 2019 budget and financial plan will include funds for the new fire hall in Teulon, upgrades to the Stony Mountain Community Centre and the implementation of a surface water management plan, as discussed during the RM’s public hearing on April 24.
Council, along with Rockwood CAO Chris Luellman, finance manager John Visser and a few residents, were all in attendance for the hearing inside Rockwood council chambers. The purpose of the hearing was to receive feedback from residents before the plan is voted on by council and submitted to the province by May 15.
This year, the RM will budget $8,496,187.17 in expenditures with a three per cent increase of its mill rate to 8.3768. Last year, the RM budgeted $8,646,465.61 and ended up with a $576,020.85 surplus mainly from greater than expected revenue from taxation, investment returns and grants. Transportation services, which ended up being over $400,000 under budget last year, received the greatest portion of expenditures with $3,417,223.61 or 41%.
The Stony Mountain Utility Operating Fund experienced a $310,288.31 surplus in 2018 as the result of no funds being transferred to reserves or for deficit recovery. However, Visser stated at the meeting that there still are adjustments to be made pending discussions with the Public Utilities Board.
The largest project for the RM cost-wise is the construction of the new Teulon fire hall to be completed this summer. Both Rockwood and the Town of Teulon have agreed to split costs equally for the project, with the RM’s share to be $700,000 funded by debenture over the next 20 years. Other major expenditures include $548,500 towards roads and drainage projects, $329,000 for a new grader, $325,000 towards the purchase of a new fire truck for the Stonewall-Rockwood Fire Department and $161,000 for repairs and a kitchen renovation at the Stony Mountain Community Centre.
Other items listed in the budget include $21,500 for a master drainage plan, as well as funding towards technology upgrades for the RM offices, consulting services for the municipal building’s planned expansion and the construction of a new building to house the ice resurfacer for the Argyle Skating Club. All of the projects, excluding the fire hall, are funded from the RM’s reserves.
Rockwood reeve Wes Taplin wrote in an email to The Stonewall Argus and Teulon Times that he believes the budget to be “fair” to ratepayers.
“It’s a responsible budget which allows us to move forward by dealing with aging infrastructure and maintaining services to our constituents. It also allows us to put money in our reserves for projects and machinery that the municipality will need in the future,” he wrote. Taplin also added that a major concern for the RM will be the carbon tax and how much it will affect the municipality’s bottom line.