Starland county council reviews Code of Conduct

Written by Sarah Baker

Starland County council held their legislated four year review of Bylaw 1133, Councillor Code of Conduct at the June 22 council meeting.

According to the bylaw, its purpose is “to represent the interests of Starland County.” It is also requires council to “consider the welfare and interests of Starland County as a whole and interests of the county as a whole supersedes the interests of a particular division.”

Outside of new wording, changes include guidelines to conflicts of interest and the complaint system for Starland County residents.

Councillors with conflicts of interest will disclose them to council while those who claim to not must decide if the conflict of interest is of concern before proceeding.

If it is noted as a concern, the member in question may choose to abstain from discussion and voting on the matter.

However, if the number of councillors “would prevent council from meeting quorum, then they may not be excluded and must fulfill their legislative duties.”

In addition, council members cannot accept gifts valued more than $250 and gifts over this amount must be declared to the chief administrative officer (CAO) where it will be accepted on behalf of the county.

However, this will not apply to social obligations like dinners and social functions given to council as a group.

In terms of complaints, the new system is made to prevent “vexatious or frivolous complaints intended to waste council resources”.
Residents or councillors who suspect a breach in the bylaw by a Starland County council member will bring it to the attention of the reeve in writing.

The complaint will be brought to council and must receive a “seconder” through another council member.

Although a seconder is not necessarily in agreement with the complaint, it just acknowledges that the complaint warrants further investigation and the reeve will decide the need for investigation.

Council moved to approve the changes and amended the bylaw.

Ministry of Seniors and Housing 
Correspondence from Seniors and Housing Minister Josephine Pon presented more information to the council regarding their 10 year strategy to provide affordable housing for seniors in Alberta.

The aim of the ministry is to reduce the number of Albertans in core housing. They also hope to provide 25,000 households with housing support and bring their total numbers over the next 10 years to 82,000.

The correspondence also outlined stricter guidelines for selecting board members for the housing management body through the selection of knowledge, skills, experience, expertise or qualifications.

Long term tax strategy 
A presentation regarding long-term tax strategies by Tim Duhamel from the Bloom Centre for Municipal Education was shown to council.

In his assessment he demonstrated that Starland County has the third highest residential tax and highest non-residential tax rates in the region.

Duhamel advises for tax elasticity, which is the ability to increase taxes to meet financial needs and obligations.

This would be done through a multi-level process that requires significant public engagement with the county to ensure they understand what they are paying for.

In addition, he outlined the strengths and weaknesses of the current revenue streams of the county, gave suggestions on different opportunities that could generate additional income and advises on strengthening the tax base over relying on the government grants.

In order to achieve this, Duhamel presented nine different long-term tax strategies that vary in scale and length.

After the presentation and discussing different opportunities for the county, council will take the information and use it moving forward.

Central Alberta Economic Partnership
Executive Director of the Central Alberta Economic Partnership (CAEP) Kimberly Worthington and council member Faye MCGhee from Kneehill County appeared before council to introduce them to the organization and the Regional Economic Development Alliances of Alberta (REDA)

CAEP is one of the nine economic development groups that was formed in 1998 as a pilot project with the Government of Alberta.

The aim of the REDAs is to focus on “community and regional economic development as well as business and investment attraction.”

Membership for the organization is based on population at $0.70 per resident. The cost for Starland county is estimated to be $1,400.

This would allow Starland County to use the resources of CAEP to better serve the community through the information that they have available.

In addition to the membership, CAEP offered the council for Starland County to be part of the Robust Community Resource Profile. Only one spot was left and they came forward with the proposal which would cost $4,500 rather than the usual $8,000 or $10,000.

It will provide Starland County with a document that has all the necessary information site selectors would need for their inquiries.

Council moved to be part of the organization and take part in the profile.

Daniel Gonzalez
ECA Review

About the author

Sarah Baker

Sarah Baker graduated from the Holland College Journalism and Communications program in May of 2021. From there she worked with other organizations as a multimedia journalist. 

Sarah joined the ECA Review in November of 2022 and comes from Castor, Alta.