City of Prince Albert budget deliberations will take place in January this year instead of the usual late November time slot.
General fund budget debates will run from Jan. 6-7, with the sanitation, utility, airport and land funds budget review scheduled for Jan. 20-21. Budget documents will be available on Dec. 16 and Jan. 12, respectively. Delegations will not be heard at the meeting.
Mayor Greg Dionne said they wanted to give new councillors more time to get acclimated to their roles before throwing them into a budget debate.
“We decided to put it off thinking there would be more than two new councillors,” Dionne said on Tuesday. “If you remember last (election) there was five, so that’s why we did it. We only ended up with two, but I’m still glad with the process because it will be a learning curve for all of them.”
COVID-19 was also a factor, but not a major one. Barring significant new announcements, Dionne said the City won’t get any more emergency funding, so council can start allocating the resources at their disposal.
The budget package will be available at www.eagenda.citypay.ca once it’s released.
Prince Albert’s financial position heading into 2021 looked dire until September. That’s when the federal government provided the City with nearly $2.3-million through the Safe Restart Canada Plan. Prior to that, the City expected to run a deficit of somewhere between $750,000 and $900,000.
The provincial government has also chipped in with $320-million for municipal infrastructure projects. That was part of a $2-billion “economic booster shot” in May.
In September, city council voted to rescind applications for a $10-million emergency line of credit and $10-million emergency loan. At the time, Dionne said their financial picture had improved to the point where the loans and line of credit wouldn’t be necessary.
The City still faces a few financial challenges, one of which is the large number of unpaid utility bills. As of Sept. 29, city administrators were tracking more than $400,000 from outstanding accounts. They expect to recuperate anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000.