Hamper campaign has way to goNEWS/Entries/2017/12/6_Hamper_campaign_has_way_to_go.html
Arson damages Southfort homeNEWS/Entries/2017/12/6_Arson_damages_Southfort_home.html
Pineview 7-11 robbed last weekNEWS/Entries/2017/12/6_Pineview_7-11_robbed_last_week.html
East Indian flavor added to FortNEWS/Entries/2017/12/6_East_Indian_flavor_added_to_Fort.html

Volume 22, Number 47, Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Library fails to get full funding

City Council spent a lot of time reviewing and refining the City of Fort Saskatchewan 2018 budget this past month. But the real work is yet to begin.

City Council's real job is not to check the budget math, but to set priorities in service levels and facilities. Council decides if we build more roads or more hiking trails, more swimming pools or hockey rinks.

Each service and facility comes with a cost. Staff must be hired, utilities and maintenance paid.

Each new facility is a benefit to the citizens of Fort Saskatchewan. But each new facility increases the cost of operating our city.

The last City Council approved several new facilities. But only one, the new football field, will actually be completed. Council itself cancelled the museum Heritage Centre building, and now voters have turned down the new swimming pool.

The curling rink is also being renovated, which is essentially a decision to keep that facility rather than let it close.

The new City Council must now decide what to do about Harbour Pool, along with the Jubilee Recreation Centre, and perhaps an additional ice rink at the Dow Centennial Centre.

Also up for consideration is a second fire hall; though that will be hard to turn down.

Plans for all of these things have been put together in the past, but I feel the last City Council did a poor job of keeping to these plans. We are left now with a bit of a mess.

I hope the new Council will do its job and make a plan — one that clearly shows what will be built and what we will pay. I also hope that Council members will work together this time and come up with something they will not cancel later.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Three groups combine for concertNEWS/Entries/2017/12/6_Three_groups_combine_for_concert.html

Council must make real plan now

Sunday hours may be reduced at the Fort Saskatchewan Public Library now that the board is getting $50,000 less than requested this year.

The board tried but failed to get City Council to reverse its decision Tuesday, Nov. 28. It warned that Sunday hours will be the most likely cut.

The library will still get $1.19 million, or about two per cent more than last year. This follows a 7.7 per cent funding hike in 2016 and a 14 per cent hike in 2015.

Library officials requested a six per cent hike this year in order to expand early literacy programs and to meet growing demand.

The library added Sunday hours of operation this year, as well as making all library cards free of charge.

The cut to the library request was part of $760,000 in cuts City Council made to the 2018 City of Fort Saskatchewan operating budget during budget debate.

Most of the remaining cuts were to areas that saw a surplus this year, such as the snow clearing budget and the staff wages and benefits budget. Staff wages often see a surplus as the budget assumes all positions will be filled, but this is rarely the case.

The $200,000 cut in the traffic safety program will mean that program is reduced to just $50,000 this year, however. The program has yet to get underway, despite being in the 2017 budget.

These cuts are expected to reduce the 2018 tax hike to about zero.

Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017