County of Stettler residents will have to dig a little deeper in 2022.
The County of Stettler council approved the 2022 budget, which will cause residents to see a three per cent tax increase, during their Feb. 9, 2022, council meeting.
“It’s the same budget as presented in the public budget meeting,” said Christa Cornelssen, the county’s director of corporate services.
“We are proposing a balanced budget for 2022.”
Under the Municipal Government Act, which all municipalities in Alberta are required to follow, municipalities are not allowed to run deficit budgets; they must either run balanced budgets or surplus budgets.
The budget proposed by Cornelssen will actually see the county with a $2,000 surplus at the end of the year, according to budget documents.
“I know this was probably the most difficult budget that I have sat on,” said Coun. James Nibourg.
Also attached to the 2022 budget, for planning purposes, are the 2023 to 2027 operational and capital plans.
The full budget can be found on the County of Stettler website at www.Stettlercounty.ca.
After receiving the complaint from residents at the Jan. 12 council meeting, County of Stettler public works staff were immediately dispatched to inspect the road after the meeting.
Staff found approximately 5” rocks in a 100-metre section of road where it transitioned from haul road to unimproved road.
According to a public works update on the Scollard Road, staff believe that the rocks began protruding after previous rehabilitation work was done on the haul portion of the road and the smaller gravel migrated off the road centre over time.
An interim solution was immediately implemented; a mixture of snow and crushed rock was applied to the area then bladed with a grader.
Public Works staff returned to the site a week later and found that the road interim solution was holding up well.
“I’m glad staff went down and took immediate action to address this,” said Coun. Les Stulberg.
Coun. Ernie Gendre agreed with his colleague.
“We did our due diligence out there,” said Gendre.
“It’s going to take some time to get things done properly.”
Further investigation into Scollard Road also indicated that a traffic count had not been conducted on the road since sometime in 2010 or 2011 and that one had been planned for the spring.
Due to provincial cutbacks, it could be five to 10 years before 13 reclaimed lands are issued reclamation certificates from the province.
According to a memo provided to Stettler county council during their February meeting, Alberta Environment is processing reclamation applications at a rate of two per year.
It is also noted that the southern Alberta inspector, who served the Stettler area, is no longer with the department and that administration was informed by Alberta Environment that there is apparently no plans to fill the vacancy.
Council, through administration, has attempted over the last couple of years to get a meeting with Minister Jason Nixon, who oversees environment, however so far have been unsuccessful.
“If they are producing two, three, four (certificates) a year, I don’t know what they are doing for the other 50 weeks a year,” said Coun. Dave Grover.
Coun. James Nibourg noted that this issue has been “a going concern” as long as he’s been on council.
Coun. Gendre motioned to write a sternly worded letter, signed by the Reeve, directed to the Premier, Minister Nate Horner (the region’s MLA), Minister Nixon and the Rural Municipalities of Alberta.
“We can’t be the only ones having this issue,” said Gendre.
The longer it takes for the county to have the reclamation costs issued, the higher the costs the county incurs due to maintenance and rental costs associated with the lands.
Gendre’s motion was carried.