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Harrison residents review upcoming budget

Few questions during open house this week
Harrison Hot Springs Council is currently meeting at Memorial Hall on Esplanade Avenue. (Observer File Photo)

Harrison Hot Springs financial officer addressed a significant increase in the year’s legal budget during an open house this week.

Scott Schultz fielded questions and gathered feedback from the public during a budget open house on Tuesday, March 26, at Memorial Hall and online via Zoom. Council is currently considering the budget for the next four years.

The budget indicated that the unaudited total for the village’s legal fees for last year was more than $89,000, 256 per cent over the $25,000 set aside for 2023.

“It’s really difficult to budget legal fees because it’s hard to look forward to see what we’ll need,” Schultz said. “We basically just use a kind of an averaging to get the budgets. It’s hard to say what will happen for legal fees this year, but we budgeted the best we can.”

Schultz did not clarify what the funding was specifically used for beyond general legal counsel.

During the last year, the village hired Vancouver-based local government law firm Lidstone and Company to create a cease and desist letter against a resident who allegedly made “derogatory comments against Council” on a Facebook group. The name of the resident and the Facebook group were redacted in the March 23, 2023 agenda.

Overall, Schultz said the village remains in good financial health. Despite the pressures of inflation, total expenses came in under budget this past year. 2024 looks to have a number of capital projects underway, including raising the dike around Harrison Lake, improving drainage around Hot Springs Road and the final phase of upgrades to the village’s fine hall.

Should all go according to plan, the council would discuss the budget in the upcoming regular meeting on April 2.

Adam Louis

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