Forty-seven accounts written off, $17,429

Each year, Town administration goes through accounts that have not been paid for budgetary purposes.

Assistant Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Steven Girletz presented a statement of bad debt write-offs which must be done before the new year.

Council is required to write off accounts that amount to $300 or more. Twenty-five accounts amounted to $13,676.47 over $300 and 22 accounts under $300 accumulated to $3,752.07.

Lastly, 28 accounts were inactive with credit balances totalling $235.05.

The total amount of write-offs is less than half a per cent of the overall revenue

“Any time we are less than one per cent we are doing pretty good,” said Switenky.

Council accepted the motion to approved writing off the debt.

FCSS budget increase

Council accepted the Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) budget including the $14,420 increase following a presentation by Patrick Callin and Cindy MacDonell on Tues. Dec. 4.

This year, the FCSS has asked council for an increase in funding for the 2019 year due to counselling fees and the cost of living.

“As you all know, FCSS is here and designed to fill the gaps within our community,” said Callin.

In 2018, they focused on community engagement, community development and certain demographics.

Callin noted that community engagement has been good, they still wanted to focus on these certain demographics that could use extra attention.

They did this by throwing block parties and other means to get the community engaged throughout the year.

The province provides 80 per cent of FCSS funding while the town provides 20 per cent. Any amount that the town draws back from or adds to, the province will follow their lead.

“FCSS funding comes at us through the Province of Alberta and the province has a 1 – 4 matching, so 20 per cent coming from the community and 80 per cent coming from the provincial government and they do have ceilings,” said CAO Greg Switenky.

“Now we are currently at our ceiling so this council table, as well as the county council table, are putting in the most they can to maximize the 80 per cent of potential dollars.”

FCSS asked council for $14,420 increase to their budget as their current interim psychologist and councillors are at maximum counselling capacity for what they can handle.

“We are looking at expanding that program by about 460 hours by hiring another councillor as well as keeping our interim councillor on staff for a little while longer as we have this huge gap in our community,” said Callin.

Stettler’s Crisis Aid Program (SCSC) is a stand-alone organization within the office that will be needing a boost in funds to cover utility and rent expenses.

SCSC was developed to allow FCSS staff to volunteer their skills and time to organize programs that FCSS and other organizations can not fund.

This includes involvement in the Community Christmas Hamper and other programs but the majority of it goes to crisis aid within the community.

With cutbacks to certain line items within their budget, they expect to have a surplus of $6,781.78 for 2019.

Public Library budget accepted

Council approved the Library budget following a presentation by Rhonda O’Neill and Jane Skocdopole who gave an overview and what improvements have been made to the library in recent months since the arrival of O’Neill.

They have been busy bringing residents together with programming in order to connect community members over shared interests.

The book club has been reintroduced and the summer reading program had 984 participants this year with 103 programs within Stettler.

In Rochon Sands, 161 children attended the programs. Depending on grant funding, the library hopes to expand farther into the County of Stettler.

They have found that offering free library memberships has been a financial gain in the grand scheme of things.

“We offer lots of great programming for children. This year we are going to be focusing on boosting our programs which are available for adults and seniors within our community,” said O’Neill.

The School Readiness Program allows parents and children to interact with one another as the parents share tips about life stages and other topics, often building relationships.

Wine Survivor has become a popular fundraiser. All money raised will be used to buy more equipment and toys for kids to interact with.

Some ‘pressure points’ weighing on the budget included minimum wage increases for staff, further wage adjustments for staff, new manager with significant experience and employer benefit costs.

In order to balance the budget, they have taken steps to reduce employee time by 12.5 hours per week.

They also reduced summer reading club assistants down to two people and reduced the operating budget slightly overall.

Board of Trade 2019 Budget

It has been a ‘successful year’ according to Stettler Board of Trade staff members Matt Dorsett and Stacey Benjamin who presented the budget to council during the regular meeting.

They are active members of the Canadian Badlands Tourism Association.

Boomtown Trail is a past tourism organization that is in the process of being revitalized.

“Each year we look forward to hosting several annual events and promotions including the trade show, awards gala, pheasant festival, visitors guide and Shop Stettler. Our events are profitable but we do expect to break even in Shop Stettler and expect a deficit for the visitor’s guide,” said Benjamin.

The new visitor’s guide will soon be available in time for the Jiffy Lube Scotties tournament held in late January.

This guide is sent to about 4,500 different places across the province to attract people to the area.

Each project has seen an increase in profits as well. $43,000 in Heart of Alberta Dollars has seen more growth since when Benjamin started.

The Visitor Information Centre connected with other 700 people this year.

For 2019, they want an emphasis on economic development by hosting mixers for business owners to introduce one another, connecting with local entrepreneurs, building the popularity to shop locally, hosting off-site visitor information services and Destination Stettler is helping encourage longer stays.

Council made a motion to accept the presentation and accept the budget with a net contribution of $283,218 from the town.

Stettler Town & Country Museum 2019 Budget

The Stettler Town & Country Museum has decided not to as for an increase in funding this year for their 2019 budget.

The budget has come to a plateau as of last year, therefore, no need for an increase.

Council commended the Museum on sending in ‘some real numbers’ after asking them to send a more detailed budget last year.

In 2018, the Museum improved a number of areas. This included the re-shingling of the Kirtley House roof, replacement windows in the Pioneers House and Whispering Pines, new computer systems, programming and networking, successful fundraising events like the Light the Night event, and exceptional use of volunteers.

Their plan is similar for 2019. They hope to keep building maintenance to keep artefacts secure from environmental changes, plan new fundraising events, and strategy to create long-term improvements to the area.

Council accepted the Stettler Town & Country Museum 2019 Budget as presented, and approved financial assistance for the Museum in the amount of $34,000 within the Town’s 2019 Operating Budget.

 

Terri Huxley

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