June 19th, 2024

City notebook: On the surface, it’s all very confusing

By Collin Gallant on July 7, 2018.

So, to review, city council voted this week to use more reserve money in the 2019-2022 city budget in a move advertised to protect the city’s bank account.

That’s how it was basically explained in several ways at Tuesday council meeting, and in the apples and oranges comparison, it sort of does.

But it also doesn’t.

The entire process of working to close a structural budget gap left by long-gone energy dividends is meant to shelter the city from commodity swings and protect reserve balances.

Council voted to scale back a new utility fee and use an additional $9 million in expected power plant dividends in the next city budget, due in January.

With a big electrical profit expected and taxpayers weary after years of increases, it might have been the only way to keep the entire so-called “Financially Fit” strategy on the rails.

Therefore it does.

But then again, using money otherwise destined for a savings account to advance a process designed to protect the savings account, seems contradictory.

The original proposal was to get $2 million more each year (it compounds, remember) from a new utility fee that would go halfway toward closing the budget gap by $12 million over four years.

Instead, a reduced fee will raise $1 million next year, then $2 million, then $3 million, then another $3 million in future years.

The difference comes from reserves, or technically, dividends put into the reserves temporarily.

In total, the budget needs $44.4 million in reserve money to bridge the gap as taxes rise and cuts take effect.

Even with this year’s expected tax-fund dividend of $16 million, the power plant will need to make at least $50 million in profits over the next four years to avoid dipping into — and nearly closing out — the city’s electrical equipment fund.

Hatters afar

Count Diane Finstad is among Manyberries’ most famous products.

The longtime rodeo scribe was this year’s recipient of the Bell Memorial Award awarded by the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.

Finstad began her broadcasting career giving out cattle and grain prices on Red Deer CKRD in the early 1980s, and went on to cover rodeos up to the National Finals level for print publications.

Today she covers rodeo, agri-business and western lifestyles for publications as well as event coverage for fairs.


Last week this column surveyed of the local billiards landscape, lamenting that it seemed only the Veiner Centre and Redcliff Legion had snooker tables available to the public.

That survey was, it now appears, incomplete.

Management at the Whisky Creek Pub reports there is a newly rebuilt full-sized table at the southwest watering hole, and a half dozen new eight-ball tables for league play this fall.

As for city hall’s auction of six older snooker tables, reported last week, it was cancelled when no bids were placed.

Free fishing

This column missed its annual mention of last year’s Alberta anglers of the year last spring, but will make amends now as free fishing takes place in the province this weekend.

Medicine Hat and Brooks showed poorly in the 2017 awards. The winner closest to the region was Paul Deme, of Taber, who caught a 7.5-pound rainbow trout, measuring 26 inches, in Lethbridge County.

Biggest catches in other categories were a 33-inch walleye and a 47-inch pike, both in northern Alberta.

For the record, no licence is needed to fish this weekend, but local regulations still apply.

A look ahead

Riverside school property was sold this week to Covenant Care for the future construction of a care home, but another proposal for a substantial assisted-living facility will go before the municipal planning commission Wednesday.

100 years ago

“Flying aviatrix and racing autos secured for Stampede,” a headline on the News boomed on July 7, 1918.

The Medicine Hat Stampede — as it was now called — would be opened by pilot “Miss Stimson,” whose aerial stunts had caused much commotion at the Calgary Stampede earlier in the month. A team of four motor racers would perform on the final day of the local show.

Local motorists presented final suggestions to city engineers for road directional signs at locations in the city.

Collin Gallant covers city politics and a variety of topics for the News. Reach him at 403-528-5664 or via email at cgallant@medicinehatnews.com

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