The administration updated Wheatland County's operating and capital budgets to the Committee of the Whole (March 28).

The presentation highlighted the modifications made to the 2024 interim operating and capital budgets, which are slated for inclusion in the final 2024 operating and capital budgets draft.

The final budgets were brought before the council during the regular meeting held on April 2.

"We typically initiate our planning for the next year around August with management, assembling capital and operating budgets, and consolidating all of that within our software," explained Joel Chiasson, manager of financial services with Wheatland County.

"Subsequently, we engage in meetings with the council around November or early December to deliberate and provide comprehensive details on specific capital projects and the operating budget. At this point, many of the operating and capital plans for the upcoming year are finalized and approved by the council."

Final capital and operating budgets are reviewed and sanctioned at the end of March and beginning of April each year, preparing for the remainder of the capital year.

Chiasson also noted the significance of income from property taxes, which constitute approximately 70 percent of the county's revenue.

"The primary focus during this period is to allow for any significant changes to expenditures; any increases approved by the council in the interim period, whether for capital or operating items, can be incorporated into the budget," Chiasson stated.

The County Council endorsed the 2024 interim operating and capital budgets on December 19. The draft of the final 2024 budgets has been adjusted to reflect the 2023 property assessment values, final school requisition, and various other alterations.

According to the draft document, operating expenses for the county are projected at $54.13 million, marking an increase of $1.59 million from the 2023 budget.

Likewise, the drafted final capital budget shows a $1.91 million rise from the interim budget. Of this increase, $0.95 million is attributed to incomplete but approved projects carried over from 2023 to be completed in 2024. Another $0.84 million stems from an approved land purchase transaction completed in Q1 2024.

Further details regarding the drafted final budget can be found in the Committee of the Whole meeting recording and the public meeting agenda.

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