Council email update, 11 November 2012

Hello everyone:

What a privilege it was to attend the Remembrance Day service and wreath-laying today.  It was great to see how many Banffites, young and old, wanted to participate.  Hats off to the organizers, who worked hard to make this solemn occasion meaningful for everyone.

Because of Remembrance Day, Council will have its regular meeting on Tuesday instead of Monday.


You can see the entire package for the meeting at this link:

Council’s agenda is fairly light on Tuesday.  The meeting starts at 2 pm, and you are very welcome to attend!  Here are the highlights:

Compensation review

Council has set a compensation policy that says that we will pay our staff at the 50th percentile for the work they do, compared to the market.  Every now and then, we need to review the external market to see whether we are living up to that policy.  This year, we did one of those reviews, comparing our pay levels to those of other municipalities, to those of other public agencies in the Bow Valley, and (where applicable) to those of private employers in the Bow Valley.

You can see the report about the results, starting on page 11 of the package.  I’m pleased to discover that we’re not looking at any big adjustments, and that 79% of our staff are already paid either at our goal level, or just above or below.  The report also notes that our pay system has become unnecessarily complicated, with 57 different pay grids, and recommends that we collapse similar positions into shared pay grids, taking this number down from 57 to 20.  It also recommends that we work with our province-wide pension provider to provide a range of different options for retirement savings – we now have just one option, a defined benefit program.

I believe that working with the recommendations in this report will take us to a less complicated and more transparent pay system at the Town.

The report also repeats the recommendation that Council has already approved:  to have a public committee examine council/mayor pay levels and make recommendations for the future.

Get Out Banff

Our FCSS group has been successful in getting a provincial grant to work on decreasing indoor and “screen” time and increasing outdoor time among Banffites, especially children.  Their report, starting on page 17 of the package, tells us about this new program, and reminds us that this is a goal we can all contribute to. redevelopment

As I’ve mentioned before, the town’s communications staff won a contest for a free website makeover, cleverly saving the taxpayers around $30,000.  The new website is running, and new capabilities are being honed and tweaked.  Among other things, you can create your own “dashboard” now, so that the parts of the Town site that matter most to you will be front and centre when you log in.  As well, when the search function is fully operational, you’ll be able to search past agenda packages, something we have not had before.  Read all about it starting on page 19 of the package.


Finance Committee

Starting at 10 am on Tuesday, Council meets as the Finance Committee.  This is a public meeting, and all are welcome.  You can see the full agenda at this link:

A few highlights:

Pre-audit planning:  council will have a brief “in camera” meeting with the auditors.  This is done each year before the audit process starts, to ensure that every item thee auditors should consider has been mentioned to them.

Tangible capital asset policy:  as we have worked our way through the town’s financial reserves, we’ve had a lot of discussion about the reasonable expected lifespan for various capital assets (buildings, vehicles, heavy machinery, roadbeds, etc etc).  You can see the results summarized in a report, starting on page 4 of the package.

Operating reserves:  this report (starting on page 18 of the package) summarizes the levels of the town’s operating reserves, and recommends that we cap the “budget stabilization reserve” at 2% of total expenses.  This reserve is used when we are faced with one-time unforeseen expenses.  I agree with the 2% recommendation.

Third-quarter financial statements and year-end forecast:  As you’ll see in the report, starting on page 21 of the package, lower-than-expected revenues in several areas have contributed to a small deficit being forecast at year-end.   For example, low commodity prices have caused us to miss the mark on recycling revenues by $70,000.   The projected year-end deficit is in spite of good savings from the “hiring squeeze” – the town’s practice of carefully considering and sometimes delaying replacement hires.  Council is being asked to transfer $39,000 from the budget stabilization reserve to cover this deficit.

BHC shareholder meeting

On September 24, council (acting as the BHC shareholder) held a public meeting on the recommendation to change some of the user fees charged to BHC homeowners, for example, the fee paid when a homeowner sells his/her BHC home through the registered resale list.  This public meeting resulted in a range of questions that council asked the BHC board to respond to. 

At 3 pm on Tuesday, the BHC Shareholder will meet to look at the responses from the BHC board.  You can see the entire package for the meeting at this link:

The Board has attempted to provide background on the questions asked, and has also offered the shareholder two alternatives for the resale fee:
1.  The 0.6% fee, as suggested earlier, or
2. The present fee, with inflation added since 2006, plus an addition for newspaper advertizing.

This alternative has been offered, since the change in the mode of fee, from a flat fee to a percentage, had raised some questions at the public meeting.


Development Appeal Board meets on Thursday at 9 a.m.  Bow Valley Regional Transit meets on Friday at 2 p.m.


As always, any opinions expressed in this post are mine alone.  This post does not purport to be an official communication from the Town of Banff or its Council.  I welcome your questions or comments!

All the best until next time -- Leslie