(File photo)

(File photo)

Stettler County council hosts public meeting to discuss 2022 budget

The residents of Stettler County could be seeing a modest tax increase in 2022.

If approved as presented in the public budget consultation on Feb. 1, 2022, ratepayers in the county will be seeing an increase of 3 per cent to their taxes.

“As (chief administrative officer), it is my privilege to present the draft budget for council consideration,” said Yvette Cassidy, to open the presentation.

“The budget focuses on roads and road maintenance, as well as providing support to the (agricultural) industry.”

According to director of corporate services Christa Cornelssen, a significant reason for the proposed increase is due to the province decreasing the Municipal Sustainability Initiative funding and increasing the policing requisition.

As an example provided in the budget document, a home in the county with an assessed value of $580,000 will pay $4,578 in taxes.

That money is then split, with $2,167 being paid to the province for policing and education and to the Town of Stettler for recreation and housing, as well as to Stettler Waste Management for garbage services.

The remainder, $2,411, is kept by the county to provide municipal services such as maintaining the roads and helping fund recreation programs throughout the region.

A three per cent increase to the budget would have the County of Stettler operations budget running around $25.5 million with a capital budget of $1.8 million.

“This was probably my most challenging budget in my 15 years at the county,” said Cornellsen.

Coun. Les Stulberg agreed.

“We’ve had a few tougher budgets recently,” said Stulberg.

“I just want to send kudos to our staff. We’re providing the same services as always with fewer staff.”

According to the budget documents released for the presentation, 73.8 per cent of county funds come from taxes, with the remainder coming from grants, user fees and other sources.

As far as spending, over 50 per cent of the County of Stettler budget is allocated to Public Works.

Administration makes up 13.2 per cent of county budget expenses, followed by utilities at 7.1 per cent and policing and emergency management at 5.6 per cent.

The County of Stettler council will vote on the budget in an upcoming meeting.