Stettler town hall. (File photo)

Stettler town hall. (File photo)

Pair of groups present 2023 budgets to Stettler council

Town to continue funding two groups

Stettler’s town council received a pair of delegations during the Nov. 15 council meeting.

The first delegation to present was a contingent of five from the Heartland Youth Centre (HYC) who were presenting their proposed budget for 2023.

Ruby MacDonell, the HYC treasurer, did note that the proposed budget for 2023 did increase a little over 2022 for a variety of reasons.

“It’s things we can’t control,” said McDonell.

McDonell noted that utilities and insurance have gone up, as have staffing costs due to an increase number of youth using the facility. Additionally, HYC has increased staffing wages so they can “remain competitive” and retain the staff they have.

HYC is funded through a few different means, though according to the executive director of the HYC, Winnie Bissett, a lot of the funding does come through grants. Additionally, HYC does do fundraising throughout the year including the Bowl for Kids and the Awesome Auction.

“(Fundraising) really depends on community support,” said Bissett.

Bissett noted that while a number of grants are applied for, and received, through the Boys and Girls Club of Canada, she has started looking elsewhere for grants as well, such as opportunities through major corporations or even through mental health initiatives.

“I complement you on your creativity,” said Coun. Gord Lawlor, in response to Bissett’s comments about grants.

“You are taking proactive steps. That’s admirable.”

Bissett also noted that as of the beginning of November, the HYC had the most kids taking part in activites ever with a total of 331, a number which she anticipates to increase further by the end of the year.

“You guys do a fantastic job,” said Mayor Sean Nolls.

“HYC is such an important part of the community. There are so many things you do that no one ever sees.”

After the HYC presentation, in a motion by Lawlor, council approved the addition of $50,000 to the 2023 budget allocated for the HYC. It is the same amount that council has been providing HYC since 2019, and represents about one per cent of total taxes collected.

The second delegation to present were a pair from the Stettler and District Handibus who were also giving council an overview of their proposed 2023 budget.

Due to escalating costs, the handibus budget is also increasing a bit, mainly due to the cost of fuel.

The handibus budget is projecting a $14,000 deficit in 2023. Currently, the cost per trip for the handibus is just over $29 by the time wages, insurance, and all other factors are factored in. The charge to the rider is $6, an amount the society that runs the handibus doesn’t see themselves increasing so that the service can remain affordable to those on a reduced income.

Bill Gerlock, with the society, noted that the handibus the society now uses is a lease as opposed to one owned outright, something that has been working well for the organization.

Mayor Nolls said that it was “pretty amazing” what the society was able to do with their budget, and that they could keep their trips at $6, especially considering the cost of fuel at the moment.

The Stettler and District Handibus funded through the town, other partners, and through fundraising initiatives and grants.

“We keep raising money and fundraising, like everyone else does,” said Gerlock.

The Town of Stettler has been supporting the Stettler and District Handibus with $25,000 per year since 2018, an amount they saw fit, in a motion by Coun. Wayne Smith, to continue through 2023.

“You guys work really hard,” said Nolls.

“Without you guys, it’s a more difficult for seniors to get around our community. There is a lot of seniors in the community.”

Despite the anticipated deficit, the pair informed council that the organization does have reserves to help them get through 2023 and that they are projecting the cost per trip to come down in the future, though when is hard to say.

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