Municipalities are expensive to run and the Town of Slave Lake is no exception!
The budget is roughly $20 Million per year, and of that 20 million $8-million of that comes general tax revenue. So the big question on most people’s minds is, where does the rest of that $20-million come from?
One of the questions I received a lot this week was about non-town issued utility bills (electric, natural gas, etc.). Some utility bills have a line item that reads to the effect “paid directly to Town of Slave Lake”. I wanted to take a moment of and explain to you what that means and how this effects you.
As I mentioned about $8-million per year is raised through general tax revenue. The town also raises money through grants, own utilities, user fees, reserves, and our agreements with other surrounding municipalities.
Now a Municipality has the right to deliver their own utilities and there are some that do.
Essentially we could manage our own system to deliver gas and electricity to residents, but to do that The Town would have to spend money to take over distributions of those utilities, and hire the right people to look after the system.
With all the other things going on in our world, this is not something Council currently, or in the past has ever been interested in.
This brings us to our current agreement. We currently have an agreement with ATCO, where they supply the utilities in the Town of Slave Lake, and we collect a portion of the monthly bill residents pay. This fee is called a franchise fee, and we are given the fee at the end of every month.
This revenue goes towards the general operating cost of running the Town.
The franchise fee that is currently collected, is comparable to other communities. In Slave Lake there has not been an increase in almost 10 years. So why are you seeing it on your bill now? I would have to contact the utility companies to verify (and I have no time this week), but I would say that they are probably feeling the pressure of the provincial carbon tax, introduced on January 1st. In the past this was just included in the bill, but potentially they are itemizing the bill for your understanding.
As you now see this is not a new process or procedure, but simply a reformatting of the way in which utility companies accumulate their charges.
If we really wanted we could eliminate the fee, but then would have to collect more tax dollars so doesn’t really change or help anything. In the end this isn’t a very exciting blog, but I wanted to be transparent about how the system works.
Hope you enjoyed reading it!