Although Christmas is around the corner, the inner workings of municipal government are still plugging away at interim budgets.
For the Town of Stettler, five presentations were made from various organizations dependant upon town funding and approval for their upcoming budgets.
Council did approve all budgets.
The Stettler Board of Trade (BOT) had Executive Director Stacey Benjamin and Board Chair Matt Dorsett speak on their 2020 budget.
“It has been a successful year of learning and growth,” said Benjamin. Highlights included a successful sold out Taste of the Heartland event as well as the spring trade show.
It is already 60 per cent sold for 2020 as it is their 40th anniversary.
They updated their mission statement, values, and goals for this year.
Shop Stettler has undergone a rebranding which has been found to be successful thus far but the two presenters did encourage businesses to promote as it helps with authenticity, effectiveness and influence.
Overall, they asked for $335,760 from the town which comes from business licenses and general taxes.
New chairs, telephone upgrades and janitor floors stripped have been added in as additional one-time expenditures that has raised the price 14.5 per cent or $42,543.
In 2019, the town provided Stettler BOT with $293,217.
The town funds 20 per cent of the Family & Community Support (FCSS) budget while the provincial government carries the majority at 80 per cent.
Shelly Walker and Cindy MacDonell of FCSS requested the town approve the balanced 2020 operating Budget in the amount of $446,851 as presented including $196,435 in the Town’s 2020 Budget.
The Childhood Family Services contract was cut by 40 per cent with roughly 400 contracts finished across the province.
Cuts were made to programming including the layoff of one employee.
The operating budget was roughly the same as last year but salaries had dropped dramatically.
Walker and MacDonell mentioned that there will be a small deficit which is easily covered by other sources of income.
In most communities, FCSS is an integrated part of the municipality but for Stettler, it is a stand-alone nonprofit with its own building.
Library budget request
Rhonda O’Neill of the Stettler Public Library gave an in-depth overview of the most popular activities and statistics of 2019 as requested by council last year.
It was asked that the Town make a contribution of $250,181.69.
“We are gaining ground in some ways,” said O’Neill.
The library has been taking a focus on adult programming like the recently established Tuesday Club.
The Robert Raymond Cook night has continued to be the talk of many after a successful January conversation on the subject as well.
When compared to other communities of similar size, Stettler has placed in the top three consistently.
For the number of wifi sessions, Stettler has taken a landslide victory at 166,694 in 2018.
O’Neill attributes this to all the other activities happening in the Stetter Recreation Centre like people connecting during hockey games or actual library users.
For annual visits, Stettler sits in third at nearly 68,000 while Rocky Mountain House and Hinton are ahead.
The library has 2,315 card holders, a number O’Neill would like to see higher but is satisfied with at this time.
A total of 714 programs were delivered this year.
With all these additional perks of the library, $1.3 million in value is given to the community for free.
Last but not least, the Stettler Town and Country Museum 2020 Budget was seen by council.
This time last year, the museum received an additional $2,000 to their budget but council was ‘pleased’ that the museum board is making it work with their current level of funding based on their request for budgetary funding this year.
They asked to have the town approve financial assistance for the Stettler Town & Country Museum in the amount of $34,000 within the Town’s 2020 Operating Budget which was accepted.
Gladys Andersen wrote a letter to council and staff asking about potentially erecting a barber pole at the Jimmy’s Hardware Store memorial corner with remembrance of long-time business owner and barber Vern Dempsey.
Dempsey owned a barbershop in town for over 60 years.
Andersen wrote, “I’ve known Vern for many years and knew the McIver’s before him. They were our neighbours and friends. I’ve mentioned this to lots of town people and they agree it is the thing to do. Anyone who spends that many years in this town deserves to be remembered.
“He always was a very friendly and kind guy to everyone. It would not be a big expense, all you need is a barber pole and his name.”
Council wanted to have something like this done but to also include others who were ‘not wealthy people but people who make significant contributions to the community’ as they can easily be forgotten.
They have tasked the local museum with research on certain names to see if they can be remembered as well as Dempsey.