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2021 – A Challenging Budget Year

January 19, 2021

Happy New Year. I hope that you all had a safe and merry Christmas considering the circumstances. Here’s to a much better 2021.

The Province just announced that the current COVID-19 restrictions will continue to be in place at least until Jan 21, 2021. I know that this is a burden for most of us as currently there are only 5 cases within Special Areas #2 (at the time of this writing). The residents of Hanna and area have been exceptional during this pandemic from the onset and for that I want to commend all of you.

Council approved the 2021 budget at the December meeting. This was one of the most difficult budgets we have deliberated. We recognize that there are many affected by COVID-19 and that the ripple effects are just beginning to surface. Council overwhelmingly wanted to ensure a 0% tax increase, but with expenses and utilities continuing to rise, that leaves the challenge of cuts to services and projects. We have been successful in achieving this for the 2021 budget without having to cut too many services.

One of the biggest unknowns will be COVID-19 related expenses. Underused programs and services result in a loss in revenue. We are unable to collect money for programs and facilities that are not being used; but we are confident that we can hold the line when it comes time to set the tax rate and complete any budget adjustments in May.

There is a significant amount of concern regarding the current Government restrictions on public facilities such as the Arena and The 2021 operating and capital budgets for the Town of Hanna were approved at the Dec 8, 2020 meeting of Council. This follows a series of budget meetings that were held throughout November.

The 2021 budget will be adjusted in the spring once we receive confirmation of grant funding, property assessment figures and requisitions from various requisition bodies. Any adjustments will be presented to and approved by Council prior to setting the tax rates for 2021.

Council gave very clear direction to Administration that it is important to keep the tax rate to a 0% increase. As a result, this budget assumes that the tax rate will be the same as 2020 levels, even as costs continue to rise.

The 2021 budget is a balanced budget which includes operating expenses of $7.95 million and capital expenses of $0.5 million. To cover these expenses, revenue from grants, taxes, transfers and user fees is expected to total $8.45 million. Full figures can be viewed in the approved budget document.