Town of Stettler’s interim budget suggests no tax increase in 2022

·3 min read

Stettler town council approved an interim budget for 2022 that appears to contain no significant increases for residents. The issue was discussed at the Dec. 21 regular meeting of council.

The proposed interim 2022 budget was presented by Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Greg Switenky and Assistant CAO Steven Gerlitz and in the agenda memo it was stated the interim budget is a provincial government requirement that still gives a bit of insight into the municipality's coming year.

“Section 242 of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) requires council to adopt an operating budget for each calendar year,” stated the memo. “Since the town’s 2022 operating budget will not be adopted until May, 2022, an interim operating budget is required to provide legal expenditure authority per Section 248 of the MGA.

“The interim operating budget is not used to set definitive property tax rates; rather it is used as the authority to provide services, programs and overall corporate continuity.

“It is further used by council to justify the setting all municipal utility rates for the subsequent year.

“An interim operating budget ceases to have any effect when the operating budget and tax/mill rate bylaw is adopted.”

Readers should note the interim budget must be adopted by council before Dec. 31.

Switenky and Gerlitz noted that it looks like property taxes will stay the same rate as 2021, along with the water, sewer, garbage and recycling rates. Their memo noted the proposed financial impact of the 2022 budget on the average Stettler resident appears to be zero per cent.

During discussion it was stated the town is setting aside about $700,000 for capital projects, which is down from the usual $1 million.

Councillors unanimously approved the 2022 interim budget.

Still growing

During the CAO’s regular report councillors read an update from Director of Planning and Development Leann Graham, which noted that building permits were up substantially in 2021.

She stated in her report that up to Nov. 30, 2021 the Town of Stettler issued building permits in the value of $7,189,548.45 compared to the same period of 2020 which was valued at $4,756,445.

Graham’s report gave a breakdown of where the 2021 permits were issue, including institutional ($2,868,560), industrial ($105,000), commercial ($470,450) and residential ($3,745,538).

During discussion Coun. Gord Lawlor stated the building permit numbers looked very good, much better than last year. Mayor Sean Nolls agreed, stating it was nice to see the residential numbers up considerably from 2020.

Councillors unanimously accepted the CAO report as information.

Get to know you

Councillors heard a presentation from Shane Milner representing Apex Utilities, who noted the company recently made a name change and they want to get the word out. They were previously known as Alta Gas.

Milner explained he is Apex’ regional manager for southern Alberta and noted that Apex’ parent company is called TriSummit Utilities, based in Calgary, and TriSummit itself is a privately-owned company. Milner stated the company has some interests in other parts of Canada.

One area the company is diversifying into is “green” technology he noted, and to that end the company is replacing equipment and adopting new technologies to reduce its carbon footprint.

He used the example of removing “old pipe” from the ground before any leaks occur, and added that the company has been doing this in Stettler for several years now.

Mayor Sean Nolls asked whether Apex is looking at hydrogen power, to which Milner answered hydrogen is still in the research stage with questions such as how to get the hydrogen to supply lines.

Also, Milner stated it’s not clear if the current infrastructure can accommodate hydrogen but stated TriSummit is very “green” oriented.

Mayor Nolls added that it seems hydrogen is still at a very expensive stage right now anyway.

Councillors accepted the Apex presentation as information.

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review

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