January 2017 Print

Monthly Commentary

Today is January 6th and one moment we are celebrating New Year and the next a week has almost gone by.   Many new resolutions have been created, written and discussed.  Excitement on new year's day of making changes and plans and how things would be different and great in the 2017.  Then our busy schedule catches up to us.  Time away from the office has caught up to us.   After being away two weeks for the holiday season, Monday is my first official day back at work!  Where has the time gone?   Wishing you a very Happy New Year 2017 and may you experience success and accomplishments in your goals this year. 

Mission statement becomes our defining intent of what we set out to do - the relationship we are looking to build, the service we are looking to provide, or the products we have to offer.  It gives us focus and boundaries within which we operate.  Then measurable goals and results to work on achieving our mission gets reviewed on a regular basis, modified and we keep on moving forward till the end of the year.   In doing taxation planning or even estate planning, there are rules and guidelines which we have to follow - whether or not we agree with them, it is what the current rules are.  We plan accordingly based on the legal jurisdiction that we operate in.   Many new changes have come into effect recently.   What changes will we need to make in our strategies in order to either meet or exceed our goals and mission statement?   The business cycle is a challenge and so too is the environment in which businesses and professionals operate in.  And yet, as Napolean Hill has said, in spite of the Great Depression, many individuals have gone on to become successful, multi-millionaires.  And so we wish you success in your endeavours in 2017!

Last year we worked with Nancy Jarnevic, Marketing Director with Londonderry Mall to host the very first Lunar New Year event in February.   Many changes have happened since at Londonderry Mall.  The brand new food court that opened in Londonderry Mall, many new retailers who have set up shop and opened up in this location.  Many new and existing products choices and services for us to choose from.  We are very excited to be working on the second Lunar New Year Event - Welcoming the Year of the Rooster 2017.   The look and feel of the Londonderry Mall since they started their renovations a few years ago - a very noticeable difference that we are looking forward to sharing with you!  Thank you to many of the companies who have approached us to look at sponsorship or participate in the event.   More details will be available very soon!

In the meantime, Joey-Lee, our Office Manager, has posted all the upcoming Business Introductory & Networking Event from January to June.  This continues to be our most successful event that we host as it gives us an opportunity to learn about our member's businesses, who they are, what they do, how they service or work with their clients, what does their ideal client looks like, how do we look for referrals for them, what are the clues to help us make that referral.   In the end, the more we understand each other, we build relationships along the way, is there a referral opportunity or a business introduction that you can make?  Join us at these events and let's learn more about each other's business.  [Register Now/RSVP]

Business Mixers - after hours and breakfast mixers will continue in the new year.  Pleased to add luncheons to this year's calender.  Firming up location and dates and will have them posted as soon as available!  For now, congratulations on week 1 of the new year!  

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We always welcome feedback so please reach out to us by email: info@neba.ca or by phone 780 803 1678.  Loan Gowers, Executive Director & President  (Connect with us on LinkedIn, Follow us on Twitter, Like us on Facebook Page).  Joey - Lee Morigeau-Jeffrey, Office Manager, admin@neba.ca

North Edmonton Business Association is a membership based organization with a focus of building opportunities by hosting events where networking, interactions, conversations and meetings can occur.. To join as member, please click on link for  online membership application and payment can be made with VISA or Mastercard.  

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North Edmonton - City Councillors (Ward 1-4 and Ward 7)

by Councillor Andrew Knack (Ward 1)

Approved 2016-18 Supplemental Budget Adjustment

On Tuesday December 13th City Council unanimously approved our 2016-18 Supplemental Budget Adjustment. While the tax increase of 2.85% is the lowest increase in the last 10 years, I want to share my thoughts on why I supported it and where I see us improving in the future. I think it is easy to be excited about the lowest increase in 10 years but every percent increase still has a huge impact on people.

For a more detailed breakdown of how our tax dollars are used, please visit yegcitybudget.ca for an easy to read and thorough resource. Also, since the starting point for this budget is based off the work we did last year, you can refer to my budget blog post from last year at andrewknack.com/2016-18-operating-budget to learn about some of the specific items we debated that have a multi-year impact.

First I want to breakdown the 2.85% increase and as a point of reference, $14.7 million would be the equivalent of a 1% increase:

o   1.5% goes to Neighbourhood Renewal. This program has been in place since 2009 and the dedicated increases are scheduled to end next year.

o   0.6% goes to our debt repayment for the Valley Line LRT.

o   0.75% goes to continued operations, our operating impacts due to capital expenditures and new service packages.

Each year the city receives new inventory of roads, parks, etc. as new communities develop. The developers of these new areas pay for the construction of some of the infrastructure required for new communities but after a warranty period, the city takes over the responsibility and needs to complete all the necessary maintenance. The cost of maintaining the new roads and parks that will come into City inventory in 2017 will be approximately $1.35 million. There are other items included in the operating impacts of capital but I wanted to provide a few quick examples of what makes up the approximately $11.3 million.

There are issues that arise throughout the year and Council can fund these emerging priorities if they choose. This year there was over $9 million in emerging priorities and Council chose to fund a few of those priorities which would be included in the 0.75%. The largest portion of the $2.5 million was for the End Poverty Initiative. This particular service package was for $1.265 million and passed unanimously.

The City Administration did excellent work this year renegotiating contracts, reducing fuel and utility costs and taking many other actions to help reduce the budget. I did want to highlight a motion as people have asked what I have specifically done to help try and find cost savings. In September of this year, I made the following motion to help find savings that can be applied to this year’s budget deliberations:

That Administration provide a report to Council as part of the 2017 Supplementary Operating Budget Process on the following:

  1. A breakdown of the 2015, March 2016 and June 2016 permanent position vacancy rate for the following areas:
    1. Utilities
    2. Development Services (formerly Current Planning)
    3. Civic Tax Levy operation
  2. An analysis of current vacancies including their status.
  3. A review of the feasibility of deleting some of the vacancies and/or increasing the personal discount rate in order to identify cost savings.

From this report, we learned that there are numerous staff vacancies that we could eliminate altogether which would provide us with a considerable amount of savings.  I am happy to report that we have eliminated 46.0 vacant full time equivalent positions with a savings of $5.2 million dollars.

Some people raised concerns that this may impact service levels but the positions that were eliminated had been vacant for 6 months or longer and I felt comfortable that even in a growing city, we could still expect the same great service from the existing staff. One of my campaign commitments was to focus on fiscal responsibility which is something that is easy to say but harder to put into action. That is why I felt it was important to highlight one of the actions that I have taken to try and live up to that commitment.

The 2.85% increase factors in everything listed above but we also discussed some other items that did not impact the 2.85% but did impact our Financial Stabilization Reserve (FSR). The FSR is often referred to as our rainy (or snowy) day fund. For many years, Councils have either accessed or replenished the reserve depending on the year-end results. The state of the FSR is often dependent on the amount of snow we get in a year. Until recently, Council had budgeted for a slightly below average snowfall (90-95% of what we would expect). This meant that over the last 10 years there were times that the Council would need to access the FSR to help ensure proper snow clearing would take place.

Last year Council made the decision that our snow removal/maintenance budget should be funded for an average snowfall. As you all know, last winter and most of this winter has been particularly good with regards to the amount of snow so we are expecting a surplus this year. This expected surplus is what we would define as ‘one-time’ savings. What that means is that we should not change our budget based on the fact we did not have much snow last winter.  If we did change our budget to reflect the snowfall from last winter, we would likely deplete our entire FSR in just a few years. At the same time, the FSR should not be too large or it would suggest the city is taking more money than it needs every year.

I said no to a lot of items that had merit. What I said during the debates is that I was not able to support the items at this time because we have not reached our year-end. While we are projecting a large surplus of $28.8 million, if we were to see a large amount of snow over the final two weeks of December, that number could shrink dramatically. While the weather forecast looks good, I cannot justify using much of that possible surplus until we have finalized our year-end number.

The fact that I said no to a number of programs/services/events that only require one-time funding does not mean that we should not do them but rather that I believe we shouldn’t pre-commit much of our proposed surplus. Once our numbers have been finalized, I would be happy to have a conversation about some of these items that were not funded. The other concern is that our FSR has always been on the lower end of the spectrum and with a fairly large proposed surplus, we have an opportunity to fill a gap that has existed for a number of years which will ensure further Councils have more stability.

The concern I would have had with using our FSR to drop the increase to 0% is that it means we are using one-time dollars to deal with ongoing expenses. Why that is a problem in my opinion is that it would mean in order to compensate for using one-time dollars to reduce taxes, the next Council would have to add a 2.85% increase onto any other potential increase which already would include 1.5% for the last year of Neighbourhood Renewal along with the 0.6% for the Valley Line LRT. So if we took the same approach we could have a 0% increase this year but a significantly higher increase in 2018. I don’t believe that is fiscally prudent and it would put the next City Council in a far more challenging situation.

Similar to last year, I could write far more about the budget. I hope this has provided you with the necessary information about what steps I have taken ensure we are getting value for our money as well as why I supported this budget adjustment. I am always interested in your thoughts on so please feel free to ask any questions or share any comments you may have.

 

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North Edmonton - MLAs (Provincial)

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North Edmonton - MPs (Federal)

Special thanks to MP Michael Cooper's office for sharing this information.  January 20, 2017 is deadline - can your business benefit from this? Is there anyone you know who could find this information beneficial? 

We are a little over two weeks away from the deadline and want to ensure that employers and nonprofits in the Edmonton area are fully taking advantage of this Government program.  

Please also see the attached link:

https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/funding/youth-summer-job.html

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Calendar of Events

NEBA Business Introductory Meetings
Tuesday January 24, 2017
Good Buddy Restaurants, # 1018, 9499-137 Ave
5 p.m - 7 p.m.
Registrations are given 10 minutes to present their business products and/or services.  Members free to attend, non-members $20.  This is the most successful event that NEBA hosts as the more we know about each other business, the increase potential for business referrals, introductions and relationships.  Referrals happen the more they know about what you do and how you do it and how you help them, their connections and their needs.   
NEBA Business Mixer & Networking Event
February 2017
Londonderry Mall, 137 Ave & 66 Street
5 p.m - 7 p.m.
(Year 2016 -Welcome Year of the Monkey at Londonderry Mall )
Welcoming the Year of the Rooster - Lunar New Year Event 
Londonderry Mall
Saturday February 4th, 2017
10 AM - 5 PM
Opening Ceremony 11:30 AM - 12:45 p.m.
We are very excited to be planning 2nd Lunar New Year Event at Londonderry Mall.  Happy to report that many new business have approached us to be a part of it already!  Very exciting performance program with new additions to agenda.  
If you are interested in sponsoring an event, advertising opportunities or membership, please contact us:  info@neba.ca or call Loan Gowers, Executive Director at(780) 803-1678
Event committee:
Loan Gowers, Executive Director & President
Lan-Chan Marples, Director
Joey-Lee Morigeau-Jeffrey, Office Manager

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Member News, Events & Announcements

 

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Association Sponsors