Gadsby viability study completed

The Village of Gadsby, population 40, has been given two choices in deciding the fate of the village.

This study is split into two key areas; one being the infrastructure and the other being financial.

Municipal Affairs recently came to a conclusion, providing two different options and their various outcomes.

If the people vote to remain a village, the council will continue to address the recommended actions in the report according to the direction of the Minister of Municipal Affairs.

Costs associated with the administration of the village consume over 53 per cent of the village expenses and almost 94 per cent of total municipal property taxes.

“There appears to be little opportunity to reduce council and administrative costs since the village’s current costs are already less than half of the average costs reported by small Alberta villages. Since the village reported near breakeven operations in 2018, it is not anticipated that property taxes could decrease in the foreseeable future,” said the report.

The village’s municipal property tax rate on residential properties equates to $41.98 for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

This is the highest residential tax rate in the province and is almost four times the average for small villages.

Despite careful cost management, property taxes will need to be maintained at the same level to continue the operation of the village at current service levels.

The infrastructure audit indicated that the village needs to spend approximately $2.4 million over the next ten years to maintain and upgrade the current village infrastructure.

This amount is more than the reported value of the village’s capital assets at the end of 2018 at $1.4 million, and more than the total assessed value of all residences and other private property in the village at $1.4 million.

If the villagers choose to dissolve, they lose their title as the smallest village in the province but will come under the umbrella of the County of Stettler as a hamlet.

At this point, the village has hired the county as their administration during this time of limbo.

Employees have been stopping in regularly to inspect infrastructure and tidy up where they can.

Under the direction of the county CAO, services will be provided out of the county building located in the Town of Stettler similar to the way services have been provided since June 2019 if voted for.

A bonus to this decision is that residents can expect property taxes to decrease to the county tax rate.

If the majority vote were to dissolve and become a hamlet in the neighbouring municipality, the Minister is required to recommend dissolution to the Provincial Cabinet.

However, it is ultimately cabinet’s decision whether to dissolve the municipality or not. If the majority vote were to remain a municipality, the village would not dissolve.

The Minister will issue directives and require progress reports for five years. Villagers will be voting on Wed. Nov. 13 and Thurs. Nov. 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Gadsby Truck Fill Station on the north side of the village.

In January 2019, the viability review was requested by council.

In May 2019, the administration, as well as mayor and council, stepped down from office.

Alberta Municipal Affairs staff prepared the Village of Gadsby Viability Review Report based on information collected from the village and the County of Stettler.

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

Avatar

ECA Review Publisher