The City of Winkler took dedicated time this week to go through this year's budget, and map out its plan for the next four years. Together with the City Manager and department Directors, Council held its annual two-day planning session Monday and Tuesday.
As a group, Mayor Henry Siemens said they put much of their focus on, "How do we plan well, not just now for this immediate term, but also for the future."
Siemens says a lot of that work comes from the City's Capital Asset Management Plan that the previous Council and staff have been working on, noting it's a pretty deep document. He says city staff has now had a chance to dive fairly deeply into the plan, adding it's helping them understand everything they have, everything they need to plan for, anticipated costs of maintenance, and cost of replacements.
"We also work with our directors and staff to sit down and determine where we need people, and how we need people, to make sure we are an employer of choice by providing a good job, but also making sure we get tremendous value for each one of those people recognizing these are tax dollars."
Siemens added they're always very careful to make sure what they're adding, brings value to the majority of the residents of the community.
"The general theme that comes out of it is how important it is we plan carefully where we expend our monies, to make sure we're not just planning for today, but for tomorrow. Meaning that when we buy a piece of equipment, how are we going to make sure we maintain it and use it, when we put a street in, making sure it's needed. Also, making sure we recognize, at some point in time, it's going to need to be repaired and replaced, and to plan out for all of those kinds of contingencies."
Siemens notes they are now, "Dotting i's and crossing t's," on this year's budget.
"One of the things we found out, that's impossible to get away from, is those same inflationary pressures we all face at home every day, we deal with them, here, as well," he stated. "Everything we do is significantly more expensive than last year, and we are trying to mitigate that to the best of our abilities without robbing from Peter to pay Paul. We can't steal from the future to make this year work."
With that in mind, Siemens noted they don't have the exact number finalized just yet, but residents can expect a tax increase this year.
"There is an increase coming, it's simply unavoidable in an inflationary environment, like we have now."
The community will have an opportunity to voice its perspective on the city's proposed financial plan during a still to be announced consultation date.