Even though 2016 has been an eventful year for the county, Reeve Wayne Nixon believes with a “conservative and responsible” budget, the county is on track for the new year.
“With the economic pressure on the oil industry and the resulting effects on assessment, coupled with business failures, we’ve seen a decrease in revenue to our county,” said Nixon. “But, despite these challenges the administration of the County of Stettler has presented a budget that recommends no tax increase, and no borrowing for the new facility, plus an increase in pay for volunteer firefighters.”
Nixon explained that the recommendation has been to reduce the capital budget, monitor the placement of gravel on roads more closely and limit water hook ups.
“I congratulate the administration on this conservative and responsible budget,” added Nixon. “However, decreased funding from the provincial government has resulted in the delay or abandonment of provincial responsibilities such as roadside spraying (weed control) and maintenance of primary and secondary highways.”
Bill 21, which is the reworking of the Municipal Government Act (MGA), has put increased pressure on municipalities by requesting three-year budgets and that all adjacent municipalities have inter-municipal agreements, according to Nixon.
“All these developments translate to increased workloads and increased costs for our administration and staff,” Nixon said. “In 2017 we will continue to work with our partners the Town of Stettler, the Villages of Donalda, Big Valley, Botha, and Gadsby, and the Summer Villages of White Sands and Rochon Sands in keeping services delivered to our respective ratepayers.”
These services are Stettler and District Ambulance Association, Stettler Waste Management Authority, Stettler Regional Fire Authority, the Housing Authority and Recreation.
Some of the projects that the county has planned for 2017 include Byemoor drainage; grading and oil surfacing; environmental assessment of the current county site; Erskine landfill closure; Erskine east subdivision completion; new Public Works Facility yard design and construction; Erskine water distribution; road improvement where needed using existing inventory to realize long-term saving in gravel use.
“There are no plans to relocate the administration office to the new site at this time,” added Nixon. “The County of Stettler will continue to provide services to our ratepayers. We have an up-to-date inventory of equipment both in Public Works and Agricultural Services and competent staff to maintain and operate this equipment so for all intents it will be business as usual.”
According to Nixon, in the new year, the county looks forward to their upcoming celebration of the County of Stettler’s 40th Annual Community Service Awards which will be held in Big Valley at the Jubilee Hall on Friday, Feb. 10.
“We live in a great community full of very giving volunteers and this annual tradition is a highlight for us,” said NIxon. “We are also anticipating Canada’s 150 celebrations and look forward to continuing to engage with our community to hear what your priorities and needs are going forward. We invite everyone to attend our meetings or to contact us in order to understand how we arrive at our decisions. If municipal government issues interest you – this October will see municipal elections – come and sit in on a few meetings and see what it is all about.”