Financial burden becoming strenuous for Paintearth County

ECA Review/Terri Huxley
Written by Terri Huxley

Director of Corporate Services, Lana Roth went over the financial report during the County of Paintearth’s regular council meeting on Tues. Oct. 6.

Roth highlighted the increased costs to the county. 

First was the Grants In Place of Taxes (GIPOT) where the Provincial Government announced a funding cut of 25 per cent for this in 2019 and a further 25 per cut for 2020.

They have asked municipalities to not change the tax notices that are sent into the Province, they will adjust the payment that they forward.

This means that in 2019 the county will need to write off $5,442.38 in bad debt related to GIPOT and approximately $11,051.30 for 2020.

Councillors passed a motion to recognize this bad debt expense in relation to GIPOT.

Second hit was the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) Capital that was decreased by approximately five per cent ($82,000) from their 2020 allocation to the estimate they were provided for 2021.

The oil and gas assessment model review has kept several counties on their toes in terms of how it will be done and what changes will effect these rural municipalities. 

A new decision is said to be made by mid-October.

It was announced that the Provincial Government will be maintaining Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) and policing grant levels.

The Police Costing Model costs to the County of Paintearth will only go up as the years go by.

For 2021, it is $77,276, 2022 increased to $115,997, 2023 up to $154,554, 2024 at $231,995 and then levelling off at $231,995 for 2025.

The County will not be receiving payment for their 2020 allocations for MSI Capital and the Gas Tax Fund until they put in project applications to show that they will be using the funds allocated.

The County’s MSI Capital unallocated funds is $1,464,187 and the unallocated Gas Tax Fund is $425,000.

Administration has determined a list of eligible capital projects that can be applied for towards this grant funding including the replacement of the Seth Bridge with a culvert for $600,000 and the Halkirk Grader Shed which has yet to be quoted.

Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) is a new grant program providing funding to support municipalities who have experienced significant operating impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funding will be used for incremental operating costs incurred due to COVID-19 response and restart, as well as other operating losses or deficits incurred as a result of COVID-19.

The County of Paintearth’s share of this grant is $217,846.

Mining Liaison 

As part of the approved strategic plan, terms of reference for all council-created committees be adopted.

The terms of reference were presented to the Mine Liaison Committee for review at their meeting held on Sept. 15 where they were adopted.

This committee was created to maintain relations with the local mine in matters that pertain to them as well as the county.

Council carried a motion to adopt this committee’s terms of reference as presented.

Valley Ski Hill funds

Over four years ago, council adopted a memorandum of understanding for funding the Valley Ski Hill grounds stabilization project.

It stated that both Paintearth and Flagstaff counties would contribute $300,000 towards the massive hill reshaping and stabilization to prevent further slides of material down the hill into the valley.

They were provided an initial $150,000 to conduct some engineering studies and reports so now $81,000 is remaining.

The ski committee has since secured a reputable contractor who has started working on the site.

With the contractor being on site now, they require $70,000 to meet the contract deposit of $150,000.

Two motions were proposed to council including one to approve this initial $70,000 payment as well as approve the balance of funds.

Approving these motions will make available $380,000 to the Valley Ski Hill upon presentation for progress draws to complete the project. 

For starting in mid-September, the company is expected to be done by the end of October – just in time for the start of the ski season. 

Council passed both motions with an invoice being sent to Flagstaff for their share.

Parkland Library budget

Parkland Regional Library has requested all of their associated municipalities for approval of their proposed 2021 budget.

Assistant Chief Administrative Assistant (CAO) Brenda Hepp mentioned that for the county it will be a slight increase from last year.

Parkland kept the payment at $8.55 per capita but overall it will be a $9,000 increase in total compared to last year.

One municipality, as explained by Dep. Reeve Doreen Blumhagen, said they have chosen not to pass this budget to show that municipalities are going to have to make cuts in different areas.

Coun. Diane Elliot, via Zoom video call, made a motion to pass this budget as she said they are integral to the area.

Council passed a motion to accept the proposed budget.


Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Fast forward to 2020, she has won second in the same category for the AWNA.