March - the promise of spring, daylight savings time, living with Covid, and Municipal Budget!!
Budget is the process of determining where Council can best support our municipality moving into the current year while balancing costs of essential core services and amenities - both of which are integral to our lives. Previously, I touched on the MRB Fire Department. Today I am going to talk about several other core services that are partially funded by the municipality through taxation.
Years ago, towns with large enough populations had the opportunity to 'sponsor' an RCMP Officer. Currently, MRB has a financial contract for two officers, as well as paying a percentage of administrative and operational costs for our local detachment. These officers are not specifically designated to one particular area within the municipality so we all benefit. Should a serious event occur, whereby a Special Unit of the RCMP is needed, such as Homicide or Canine, this contract provides their assistance at no extra cost to the municipality. Management and staffing are the responsibility of the RCMP. In 2020, 'our' cost was $315,000.00 minus a $175,000.00 input from the province, leaving $140,000.00. MRB does get some additional revenue from highway traffic offences. While we do prefer that you not speed - thanks to all those with 'lead feet' for the financial support!!
We are all grateful for our health care facilities and services. With so many rural hospitals closed and services decreased or discontinued, we have been fortunate to retain a wide spectrum of health care. One area that is vital to saving lives, and is often unrealized as such, is the Russell Airport. The airport is owned jointly and cost shared by MRB and the Russell Flying Club. The runway is large enough to accommodate 'Life Flight' - the emergency air ambulance jet which provides faster transfer time and a specialized team for critically ill or injured patients who meet Life Flight criteria. The airport also can provide support to STARS - Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service - the medical helicopter. In 2020, MRB contributed approximately $30,000.00 to the maintenance and operations of the airport and ensured that the runway be kept clear for access. The Russell Flying Club handle all of the management and operational issues.
What is the 'glue' for these services? - 911. While we all hope we never have to use this number, we all have security in knowing that fire, police, or ambulance are dispatched as needed from a local station. In 2020, the municipal cost was approximately $10,000.00.
As I sit here thinking of all the uncertainty we share in this world, I realize we have many things to be grateful for. No price is too much to pay for safety and for lives.
Until next time, stay safe and be kind. Let us all build bridges not walls.
(March 19, 2021)