No record of $30k bridge debt

Written by Stu Salkeld

The Village of Big Valley needs more documentation after a neighbouring municipality sent it a bill for $32,000. The decisions were made at the Feb. 12 regular meeting of council.

Readers should note Big Valley is currently under the guidance of Official Administrator (OA) Gene Sobolewski who acts as mayor and council.

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Colleen Mayne provided Sobolewski with an invoice for $32,000 recently sent to the village from the County of Stettler, apparently the village’s share of repairs done to the TwpRd 355 bridge last summer.

Mayne stated she looked back through village resolutions and couldn’t find any financial commitment from the Village of Big Valley for repairing that bridge. However, she did find a resolution dating to 2020 from the village council supporting the County of Stettler’s efforts to find grant money for that project.

That resolution pointed out the importance of the TwpRd 355 bridge to Big Valley’s economy. However, the CAO, who read that letter of support at the current council meeting, noted no mention was made of any financial contribution from the village.

Mayne stated she tried to get ahold of the County of Stettler about this issue, specifically asking that any correspondence confirming the Village of Big Valley’s financial commitment be forwarded as soon as possible, but hasn’t heard back yet. The county invoice noted that interest penalties would be applied to unpaid balances.

The CAO suggested this issue be tabled until after the upcoming by-election.

The OA stated he wasn’t sure there was enough information available for him to make a decision on this issue. Sobolewski stated that he would need to see the grant application the County of Stettler filed for this project and whether or not it stated the project relied upon a financial contribution from the Village of Big Valley.

Sobolewski further noted he couldn’t make a decision about this invoice until he saw the chain of correspondence or decisions that showed Big Valley council committed money to this project.

He then stated that according to the Municipal Government Act (MGA) if no resolution of council was made to commit taxpayer money to the bridge project then the village would not pay the invoice.

As the issue was discussed Mayne noted she did find an email dating from 2023 from the County of Stettler requesting a meeting to discuss cost-sharing of the bridge project, but the CAO stated she could find no further correspondence, including whether that meeting ever occurred.

Sobolewski noted he felt it best to table this issue to a future council meeting which would give the Village of Big Valley and County of Stettler time to talk about the invoice, adding that this would be a good issue for the elected council to decide.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.