In an update on the community strategic direction survey at Starland County council on Wed. Jan. 27, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Shirley Bremer shared that over 100 people have filled it out already since its release earlier in January.
She felt this was significant as the county has approximately 2,000 residents with approximately half as minors.
More residents are encouraged to participate to give the county a clear sense of direction and priorities the area would like to see.
Council agreed to book a three-day strategic planning session with a consultant beginning of March to discuss the results of the survey and how the county plans to move forward.
The first day will be for solely administration and the consultants while the second day will be for councillors. The third day will have all three sides involved.
Administration has been in touch with Keith Bocking, central regional director of Alberta Environment and Parks for potential ownership of the Tolman Bridge Campgrounds.
CAO Bremer shared in her report that there is no ‘definite direction’ at this time but noted the province anticipates campgrounds to open unlike most of last year.
Bocking told CAO Bremer they are interested in finding funding alternatives by finding long term partners for these campgrounds.
In the case of Tolman Bridge being stretched across both sides of the Red Deer River, the government wants to go in the direction of having a single agreement for both sides.
CAO Bremer said they could become managing partner and then have a subcontract with neighbouring Kneehill County.
More conversation will take place on that front.
Tolman bridge has 40 campsites on the Starland side and 25 on the Kneehill side with no water or power hookups available.
Starland’s borrowing bylaw allows the county to make borrowing arrangements for interim financing of operations.
Council passed three readings to make arrangements for interim financing/short term borrowing in the amount of $10 million for 2021 to ensure adequate borrowing room until the end of September when the majority of taxes come in due to the Sept. 30 deadline.
Administration does not foresee the county needing to use all $10 million, saying if they come to even half that amount they will have to look at the bylaw again.
They don’t anticipate going over the $3 million mark.
The money borrowed allows the county to run operations smoothly as well as projects during the summer months.
In prior years, they were in a good financial position with healthy reserves but the new office and public works building drained those.
Administration shared that they now need to build up their reserves.
Financial auditors retiring
Starland’s financial auditor, Endeavour Accounting run by Jeff and Monica Faupel sent in a letter stating their retirement.
Peter Stone will be taking over as part of Ascend LLP.
He hails from the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario but now lives in Hanna. Stone is a founding partner of Ascend LLP which was formed in July 2019.
Council passed a motion to appoint new financial auditor Ascend LLP.
The letter stated, “Our intention is to transition the accounting business of Endeavour to Ascend LLP with minimal changes.
The friendly and courteous faces of the staff at Endeavour will continue to be visible to greet you in the office locations and on the phone.
They have offices in Coronation, Hanna, Oyen, Three Hills and Canmore.
Palliser Regional Municipal Services sent in their annual requisition invoice for $40,269.75.
The three per cent increase from 2020 amounts to $1,199.91 extra.
Council agreed to pay this amount.