Larry

Reeve Larry Clarke reappointed for another one-year term, leading into elections in 2021

Clarke was acclaimed during council’s recent organizational meeting held Oct. 21st

By Kevin J. Sabo For the Independent

Larry Clarke, the County of Stettler councillor from the ward of Botha-Gadsby, has been acclaimed as Reeve of the County for another one-year term.

Clarke, who joined the council three years ago, was acclaimed during council’s recent organizational meeting held Oct. 21st.

“I’m honoured for the acclimation into this position for the fourth term, and what this year can bring,” said Clarke in a recent interview.

“What we do next year really affects the next council, in the next council period. It’s going to be key, what we do this year and how we set it up for the following years.”

Not content to rest on his laurels, Clarke is looking to build on the past successes of the County moving forward.

One thing at the top of the priority list is working with provincial government partners to collect up to $7.6 million in unpaid debt to the municipality.

“Currently we are sitting at about $7.6 million in unpaid debt, and the majority of that is from oil and gas companies that haven’t paid their taxes. In the past we could collect on that, but then there were some government rulings that came out in the last year or two,” said Clarke.

“The Virginia hills decision really stifled us in collecting those unpaid taxes. We need to collect that money to run our county.”

Still, thanks to Clarke’s leadership and the County of Stettler council’s advocacy work, some changes are being made.

The provincial government’s planned assessment review is one such example. The province put forward plans that would have slashed assessment revenues to counties by up to 30 per cent. Due to a number of critical voices, including the County of Stettler council, the government blinked, and is going back to the drawing board with its assessment review, this time promising inclusion of all the stakeholders.

“We went up to the legislative grounds, showed how disappointed we were, and how disgusted we actually were at the decisions that had been made at that point,” said Clarke.

“In doing that, we changed things – rural (counties) did change things. And they did appoint a different minister to Municipal Affairs.”

Currently, Clarke, the rest of council and County of Stettler administration are working on the budget for 2021, aiming to get it passed by the end of the year.

“We are setting our goals and living within our means,” he said. “Income from oil and gas over the last 10 years has decreased every year, and we need to get to the point where people, our residents, totally understand what services they are asking for, and what the cost for those services are, and what we need to do to provide the services.

“It may be we can’t provide the service is the answer. If it’s insisted that we perform the service, where does that money come from? Do we have to cut something else, or do we have to increase residential or agricultural taxes?”

As part of the budgeting process, Clarke and the rest of council have started the process of going through the County’s strategic plan, making sure that the budget and vision for the future align.

“For our (strategic) plan, we met last Wednesday, which carries over year after year. We have to readjust what our priorities are,” said Clarke.

“It comes down to the point where sometimes we have a champagne taste with a beer budget, and all of us have to sit down together to discuss what we can fund. There’s only one way of getting wants fulfilled – you either have to cut something else, or increase taxes to get that service.”

The County of Stettler currently operates with a roughly $15 million a year budget.

Of that, $9 million is operational funding for the County with the remainder going to the provincial government for school taxes, seniors housing and policing costs.

“It shows up on our budget, but really all we are doing is being a banker for the provincial government,” said Clarke.

Of the $9 million operation budget, $2 to $3 million is paid for through grants of some type, such as the Municipal Sustainability Initiative. The remaining $6 to $7 million is paid for through taxes.

“There will be a lot of meetings between now and December to go through and get a finalized budget,” said Clarke.

Clarke, and the rest of council, intend to continue working for the ratepayers for the coming year, leading into municipal elections in the fall of 2021.

When asked whether or not he will consider running again, Clarke was not definitive.

“Sitting here right now, I’ll say yes,” said Clarke.

“It will be totally dependent on this year, but I do feel like I will run again.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Premier Jason Kenney say the province would look at adding additional COVID-19 measures in the coming weeks if the virus continues to spread. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic to open in Red Deer

Alberta adds 1,345 new cases of the virus

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. announces signage along Alberta border to discourage non-essential travel

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Damien Kurek
MP Damien Kurek reflects on newly-released federal budget

‘Further, they recycle old promises they have consistently failed to deliver on’

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Alberta begins rolling out AstraZeneca COVID vaccine for those aged 40 or older

There are more than 70 pharmacies offering AstraZeneca, including 26 offering walk-in appointments

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

FILE - Dan Smyers, left, and Shay Mooney from the band Dan + Shay perform on NBC's Today show in New York on June 28, 2019. The duo will perform at Sunday's Academy of Country Music Awards. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)
Luke Bryan wins top ACM Award, but female acts own the night

Luke Bryan wins top ACM Award, but female acts own the night

In this undated photo provided by John-Paul Hodnett are a row of teeth on the lower jaw of a 300-million-year-old shark species named this week following a nearly complete skeleton of the species in 2013 in New Mexico. Discoverer Hodnett says it was the short, squat teeth that first alerted him to the possibility that the specimen initially dubbed "Godzilla Shark" could be a species distinct from it's ancient cousins, which have longer, more spear-like teeth. The image was taken using angled light techniques that reveal fossil features underneath sediment. (John-Paul Hodnett via AP)
‘Godzilla’ shark discovered in New Mexico gets formal name

The ancient chompers looked less like the spear-like rows of teeth of related species

sign
Alberta Biobord Corp. recently hosted a virtual open house from Stettler

The company plans to develop a fuel pellet and medium density fibre board (MDF) plant near the community

The Rogers logo is photographed in Toronto on Monday, September 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Rogers investigating after wireless customers complain of widespread outage

According to Down Detector, problems are being reported in most major Canadian cities

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Nothing stopping provinces from offering AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults: Hajdu

Health Canada has licensed the AstraZeneca shot for use in people over the age of 18

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Most Read