BY CLAIRE CUDAHY
Though the $2M-budget passed by the Ear Falls Mayor and Council on May 18 may seem a bit “boring” to the average resident, the focus was on “balancing the books,” says Mayor Kevin Kahoot.
“We don’t have a whole lot of main plans where we’re spending money, but I think the highlight of this whole thing was the cost to the average resident, when we look at our rate increase over last year, we’re looking at just shy of 1.5 per cent that’s going to hit the average household,” explains Kahoot.
He says that given the economic climate of Ear Falls, he is happy that assets to the community like the arena and golf course will continue to run without a huge increase to the taxpayers.
“I know it’s boring, but in the past few years we have really struggled with balancing the books on these budgets, and over the last two or three budgets we’ve been able to turn the corner slightly where we’re in decent shape. We have good reserves, good staff management, our staffing levels are good in the community, we have good employees in all the key areas we need to be in, so we’re in a good situation,” he adds.
Though the capital investments are conservative, there are still some projects outlined in the budget that community members will notice in the coming year.
“One is kind of an upgrade to our waterfront area so we are putting all new roofs on the buildings down at the waterfront and sprucing that up,” says Kahoot. “We’ve also got a street light program similar to what Red Lake is doing. We’ve done a couple of small waste water projects—upgrades of motors and that sort of thing so we’re able to be energy efficient.”
The signage at the municipal building and the golf course clubhouse deck will both get a facelift, while the library is receiving a $5,695 investment in books.
The daycare is also receiving $17,098 for an upgrade to the current playground.
“They are looking at moving the fence a little bigger, adding some more play structure, and giving the kids more area to play in,” says Kahoot, noting that the project is expected to be finished before the start of the new school year.
With federal dollars from the Canada 150 Fund, the Ear Falls Arena will see an injection of $75,000.
“We plan to redo the front of the arena, some flooring, some alterations to the changing rooms, and expand our gym,” explains Kahoot.
Kahoot notes that the loss of revenue for ice rentals from the English River Miner’s move to Cochenour Arena in Red Lake was not accounted for in the budget.
“There will be an impact there is no doubt with loss of revenue for ice rentals. We didn’t have any notification from the English River Miners that they were moving. So we were assuming it would be status quo. I guess what is going to somewhat offset that is the program with the school, the Hockey Academy,” says Kahoot.
“There’s a lot of things that could happen with the Cochenour Arena. We’re disappointed, but I think we can’t be spiteful to the point that we don’t recognize that there still could be a need for them to use our arena. They have every intention of moving but that could change if they don’t have ice come September.”
Copies of the 2016-17 Ear Falls Budget are available for residents at the Township of Ear Falls office.