Balancing inflationary pressures was a big focus in formulating the 2022/23 budget for the Municipality of Rhineland. According to Reeve Don Wiebe, all areas of the financials were affected.
Councillor Jake Heppner chairs the municipality's Finance Committee, and says that's why they are plowing more cash, or 18% of the budget, into reserve accounts this coming year.
"We like to keep our reserves relatively current," he explained. "Even this year with steel prices, fuel prices going up, we wanted to try to stay ahead, or at least up-to-par, with putting money in reserves so we had some cushion to fall back on."
Overall, Council has approved an operating budget of $7.9 million dollars for 2022/23, representing a year-over-year increase of about $300,000.
As a result, taxes in the municipality are going up 1.2% - 5.6%, depending on where you live.
For example, a residential property assesed at $215,000 in the L.U.D. of Rosenfeld will see an increase of 1.2%, or $15. At the high end, a residential property assess at $215,000 in the rural area will see an increase of 5.6%, or $45.
The same percentages also to apply to commercial and farmland in each specific area of the municipality.
For example, farmland valued at $600,000 in the rural area will see the highest increase, based on percentage, at 5.6%, or $73.
Meantime, Council has set aside just over $4.5 million in the budget for capital projects.
$1.7 million of that will be spent on phase 1 of the Municipality's Priority Grain Roads project. $1.4 million is covered by a federal-provincial grant that was announced in the summer of 2021, while the Municipality is footing the remaining $300,000 through its Transportation reserve account.
As well, upgrades are slated for the lift station and the new fire hall/public works building in Plum Coulee. The municipality will also continue to support the removal of soapstocks from the Altona/Rhineland landfill.
Heppner noted, Council may also move forward with installing a low pressure sewer system in its ag park north of Altona, and adding turning lanes on Highway 14 near the Rhineland West Ag Park just outside of Winkler. Those projects are conditional on consultation and partnership with other parties.
An additional $507,000 has also been earmarked for capital equipment purchases in 2022.
Meantime, Heppner reports the Municipality closed out 2021 with just $1.5 million dollars in debt. That equates to 3.66% of what it is able to borrow. Debt payments for 2022 are $278,000.