Summer is here and I am looking forward to enjoying the sun like the rest of Cochrane.
The next year though, is going to be stormy clouds, as Cochrane grapples with Covid-19 and the provincial economy.
Cochrane is a desirable place to live. A beautiful location, small town feel, big city amenities, good schools, and an amazing community. Council and administration have been working hard to catch up on infrastructure, plan for the future, and deliver the services we need, while keeping taxes affordable.
Covid-19 caught everyone by surprise and has created a health and financial crisis, including for municipalities. Cochrane has done what we could to economically buffer our residents and businesses. Fees have been reduced, municipal tax collection has been delayed, transit offered for free, late fees waived. These steps have come at a cost to the town’s revenue. To deal with the shortfall, projects were delayed and hiring’s reduced. Areas like parks and planning are now currently understaffed to tighten up our budget. This means a reduction in service, at a time when we are having to find new ways to deliver town services in the Covid-19 reality.
I am proud of our staff team, they have demonstrated their commitment to Cochrane, and provided the services Cochrane needs.
There have been unplanned costs. Municipalities across the county are wrestling with the costs of providing transit and recreation when supporting revenues are drastically down. In Cochrane, the COLT transit system is nimble enough that it is actually able to deliver under budget. Recreation is a challenge with an additional $1.5 million ask from the Spray Lake Sawmill Family Sports Centre to operate through the rest of the year. The Town’s 2020 total operational budget is $59 million. We have the savings to provide this but our reserves are not infinite and municipalities cannot run deficits. Poor decision making today will lead to unnecessary tax hikes in the future.
We will get through. My goal is to support our families, businesses, and community groups. To ensure Cochrane remains a community of choice. The question for every decision, is if the cost is worth the gain.
As always, please stay in touch and provide your feedback. It helps me to make the best decisions for Cochrane.