The Town of Norman Wells has passed its capital and operational budgets for the upcoming year with no tax increase to residents or businesses.
The budgets reflect mayor and council’s state of the town address, issued in September, which declared the community was “at a crossroads in its history.”
The town’s operating budget oversees the costs of delivering programs and services in the community, while the capital budget addresses funding for major projects.
Highlights in the capital budget include a $2-million chipseal project, $500,000 for a new fire truck, work to expand the town’s landfill that is expected to cost $800,000, and upgrades to Penguin Palace, the town’s pool, at a cost of $560,000.
According to the town, the pool is only open in the summer as it lacks sufficient insulation to operate year-round. It has been closed for the past two summers due both to Covid-19 and an assessment that the facility needed significant upgrades, including work on its drainage system.
“We need to take the appropriate steps to repair the facility, rather than rush and patchwork it and cause more damage and put more money into the building,” the town stated in a June update.
“By properly planning and assessing, we can invest the right amount into the facility to keep it open for future pool seasons to come.”
The town said in November renovations on the pool would begin soon and be covered by federal funding.
The town said it is now focusing on building its funding reserves to pay for future large infrastructure projects. A study planned for 2022 will determine which reserves should be prioritized.
Norman Wells’ 2022 operating budget gives councillors a 3.5-percent salary bump to compensate for increases in the cost of living. As of September 2021, the mayor’s annual salary was $21,000. The deputy mayor made $18,000 and councillors $15,000.
Town councillors last saw a salary increase in 2017. Under changes to the council honoraria bylaw, those salaries will now be adjusted annually.
While Norman Wells residents will not have to pay more taxes in 2022, there will be a 3.5-percent increase in municipal fees, including water rates, and a $10 garbage rate increase.