BEAVERLODGE, ALTA – The Town of Beaverlodge is financially ahead as of November 30th, with the release of its variance report at Monday’s council meeting.

“What we see is (the town is) $155,000 ahead on revenue and $645,000 bellow on expenses for the end of November,” said Jeff Johnston, chief administrative officer (CAO).

He noted those figures did not include $141,000 recovered in tax arrears.

“I think obviously we’ve done well at controlling our expenses,” he told the News.

Johnston said that he is working to build efficiencies in the town to benefit residents.

According to the variance report, the town has received more revenue than expected from the recreation fees and rentals at the pool. The budget forecast pools rentals to bring in about $21,018; as of Nov. 30, the revenue there was $27,210.

Some of the town’s facilities have seen a lower intake, such as the arena which is down about 50 per cent from what was expected in the 2021 budget. Johnston explained that the pandemic had a significant impact on use of Beaverlodge’s recreational facilities.

He believes that with people stuck at home for a while and the pool’s closure, more people wanted to take advantage of the facility when it reopened.

The arena also had to be closed due to COVID restrictions; organized sports were not operational.

The town saw no rental income from the St. Mary’s School this year as the town had to also follow the Grande Prairie Catholic School Divisions mandates; the facility was unavailable.

Some lines in the variance report including trees, flowers, and weed control maintenance went well above budget, with $29,000 budgeted and $57,314 spent.

Johnston explained that this came due to a safety reason as the town found many large dead trees and limbs this summer.

“With the winds that we experienced, it was the appropriate thing to bring in an arborist and a company to remove those hazards,” said Johnston.

Moving forward, Johnston wants to create more of a preventative maintenance approach rather than a reactive strategy, which can prove costly.

“It’s much more cost-effective to have a planned program annually, as opposed to trying to do lump sum like we did this year,” he said.

“With the trees where you spend incremental amounts over multiple years … you just don’t get hit with all those reactive costs which are always a premium.”

He plans to bring the same approach to much of the town, including water, sanitary and stormwater systems.

Johnston said that the town is in the early stages of the 2022 budget, and things are looking well.

“I think we’re well-positioned to not needing a tax increase,” he said, though he added that is pure speculation at this point.