Stettler town council decided at their Feb. 17 regular meeting they will grant Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) funds to local businesses in an attempt to relieve the effects of COVID-19.
In a recommendation from their most recent Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting, councillors heard that, “…it be recommended to town council that the Town of Stettler offer a $150 COVID-19 relief contribution to local businesses in good standing with a 2020 Local Business License or Business Tax, with funding to come from the balance carry forward amount from the Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) Reserve from the 2021 Budget.”
During discussion, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Steven Gerlitz noted most of the MOST funds received would go to cover losses the town suffered from the many weeks the Stettler Recreation Centre (SRC) has been closed.
However, about $78,000 of funding remained, equalling a $150 grant to each licensed business in town.
Mayor Sean Nolls stated town council wanted to do something to directly help.
“It’s important for everyone to understand why,” he said, noting the money could go towards covering personal protective equipment costs, for example.
Gerlitz noted council had previously done several things to help the community cope with COVID, including deferring utility bills and penalties, keeping utility rates the same as 2020 and looking at a zero per cent tax increase in 2021.
Councillors unanimously approved the MOST grants.
Councillors also approved a $10,000 matching grant to the Stettler History Book committee. It was noted the group has applied for a $10,000 provincial matching grant.
The COW recommendation stated, “…that the Town of Stettler make a financial contribution of $10,000, which is matching to the grant funds applied for under the Provincial Historical Grant, to the Stettler History Book Committee, with funding to come from the Culture Reserve Account in the 2021 Budget.”
Mayor Nolls noted that if a history book for the town isn’t considered culture, he didn’t know what could be.
When asked what happens if the group is turned down for the provincial grant, Nolls answered the town will cross that bridge if it comes to it.
Support from the boards
Councillors also approved a COW recommendation to credit businesses who purchased rink board advertising in the Stettler Recreation Centre (SRC) last year.
The COW memo noted, “…it be recommended to town council that the Stettler Recreation Centre rink board signage and Zamboni signage sponsors that are in good standing for the 2019/2020 season receive an additional year of advertising for the 2020/2021 season free of charge.”
The mayor noted something had to be done for the groups that purchased the advertising that few people had a chance to see.
“This is one of those common-sense things to do,” said Nolls. “It’s acting in good faith.”
2021 capital budget
At the previous regular council meeting in February, councillors unanimously approved the 2021 capital budget after a presentation by CAO Greg Switenky and Gerlitz.
“The total amount of expenditures included in the 2021 Capital Budget is $4,549,191.00,” stated a staff report on the capital budget.
The CAO noted a lot of the capital budget is core work, including things like sewer lines.
Switenky and Gerlitz noted town staff worked very hard to keep the budget at a zero net increase to taxpayers in the unusual economic climate Alberta finds itself in.
However, Switenky noted there are still some unknowns until the province releases its own 2021 budget.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter