Rankin tables "progressive" budget
Hamlet aims to get employees benefits for energy cost-cutting

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

RANKIN INLET (Apr 15/98) - The hamlet of Rankin Inlet is offering employees more benefits to help cut energy costs, according to the new budget, released at last Wednesday's council meeting.

Councillor Dawson Milley, chair of the finance committee, said that one of the new initiatives in the 1998 budget includes energy-saving incentives for employee benefits.

"We're trying to forge a partnership with them and we're demonstrating that we're serious about it in the form of salary and benefits," he said.

The finance committee recommended that all full-time hamlet employees receive a one per cent wage increase in April and another one per cent increase at Christmas -- providing energy costs decrease for the municipality. The total cost of such an initiative is $20,000, roughly the amount the hamlet expects to save in energy costs.

Other aspects of the new budget include a recommendation that the mayor's position go full-time and the salary be doubled from $20,000 to $40,000.

While Mayor John Hickes says the budget is certainly progressive and sees the money being made available for many of its "proactive" recommendations, he doubts that the suggestion to make his job full-time will actually become reality.

"There's no specific need for it now, but they'll have to look at it down the road," he said. "I'm quite comfortable with the way it is." The funding will unlikely be there for it, he added. "Right now, there are deficits in every department."

This year's deficit of $16,000 came in significantly

lower than the $50,000 projection and the council expect to balance the budget by the end of the year, according to Milley.

The overall budgeted revenue for 1998 totals $3,173,400 and projected expenses total $3,189,000. The hamlet is expecting to spend $574,000 on general operations and administration, $177,000 on protective services, $507,000 on public works, $143,000 on health services, $394,000 on recreation, $847,000 on the airport contract, and $547,000 on water and sewer.

The budget, tabled last week, is expected to be passed at the next council meeting.

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