Castor Mayor Richard Elhard and Coronation Mayor Ron Checkel visited County of Paintearth chambers on Tues. April 6 to discuss a letter sent to council showing the serious shape recreation funding is for the towns.
Their issue came down to where the funding was being drawn from with the small municipalities compensating any leftover expenses.
The funding model hasn’t been viewed or discussed in approximately 11 years.
Mayor Elhard mentioned that there was a misconception that the letter came from Castor Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Christopher Robblee but said this was actually from all 11 councillors from both communities that formed the letter.
One paragraph of this letter, in particular, was an area of concern for Paintearth councillor regarding the push for a two-tier funding model.
It stated, “However considering such an economic climate for if such a request [of funding] couldn’t be fulfillable, communities will plan to move to a two-tier fee structure.”
“That paragraph was – not now, not ever meant to be confrontational. That paragraph was there to show the seriousness of our situation,” said Mayor Elhard.
The county normally shells out 50 per cent but Mayor Checkel shared that the group ran the numbers and found they didn’t add up.
They determined that town residents cover a 10 – 12 per cent shortage.
“They were really skewed out to where it wasn’t even close and we don’t really feel it’s fair to our citizens for the extra that they have to put in through their taxes,” he said.
He added that the funding they seek may have to come from a higher user fee or more support from the county.
The pair pressed the need to make these services available, especially for young families.
“We want to keep our facilities going as well and as long as we can because it’s very good to always have something in your town that people can use,” said Checkel.
Reeve Stan Schulmeister said, “A lot of it is opinion. I thought the letter was very very poorly done. It was almost like a threat.”
He did although agree that it is time to upgrade the fees.
Dep. Reeve Doreen Blumhagen mentioned later that this conversation should be done far more regularly than 11 years, suggesting every three to five years at least as prices continue to rise.
She also added that this recreation funding goes beyond the arena and swimming pool, listing other services the county has supported recently including the local ski hill, rodeo events and arts.
“It’s bigger than the pool and arena,” she said.
The councillors agreed to have more meetings, starting with a smaller gathering between administration and the reeve and mayors which will then be discussed amongst each council.