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Town of Taber facing budget cuts, layoffs

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Taber town council is facing a difficult decision about how to manage decreasing revenue for 2021. As Emily Olsen reports, staff layoffs and tax increases are both on the table – Oct 29, 2020

The Town Of Taber is facing a tough decision on how to make up lost revenue in 2021 to the tune of more than $600,000.

“The reality is that we don’t see that we’re going to have enough money from taxation to run the municipal programs next year.” Taber CAO Cory Armfelt said Thursday.

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The CAO said it’s an issue facing most municipalities and businesses.

“We’ve known for the past four or five months that we were probably going to be in this situation,” Armfelt said.

In addition to a number of smaller factors, the town is facing a declining revenue stream due to oil and gas prices and the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Armfelt says he and the town’s finance director have presented the council with three options:

  • increase taxes
  • transfer funds from reserves
  • layoff staff

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Armfelt said council likely won’t be inclined to increase property taxes based on its decisions over the past seven years.

“The unfortunate one and the one nobody really wants to talk about is layoffs,” he said.

The CAO explained that staff costs continue to increase each year, but town administration has not hired any new staff this year with the anticipation that some jobs would need to be cut.

“We have just about a $10-million revenue demand for our wages,” Armfelt explained. “And so that’s right about six per cent. So that would translate to five or six positions.”

He added that with the upcoming election year, council is faced with another factor in managing the budget and may seek to soften the blow by using a combination of two options presented.

“There’s no easy solution to this,” Armfelt said. “And I’m not envious of those people that have run for council and ultimately have to sit up there and make this tough decision.”

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So far, most discussions regarding the town’s options have been behind closed doors. 

Now, Armfelt says the council will be deliberating openly in council meetings over the next month or two.