Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Clearwater County Budget Notes

By Helge Nome

The recently elected Clearwater County Council held its 2018 Budget deliberations over a period of three days last week, beginning on Wednesday, December 13. A wrap up session was held on
Tuesday, December 19.

To a regular observer of County affairs, it was obvious that there are major changes underway:
A new CAO and new department heads for Public Works and Corporate affairs presented the budget to Council.

The 2018 budget was formally adopted by Council on December 19 and details will be available when the information is released to the public on the county website next week.
The big change from the 2017 budget was the removal of some $20 million previously set aside for the planned administrative complex in the Rocky North development and the reallocation of $10 million to the Internet reserve. It was also decided to set an amount of $150,000 aside to hire an internet service manager.

Council was informed that to date $4.2 million has been spent on the Rocky North development,
which also has a mandated sand/salt storage facility

It was obvious that Council is committed to the idea of providing enhanced internet service to local residents and leverage county reserves to that end. The way that the infrastructure will be created and managed has yet to be determined, but in order to access external funding (provincial and federal) the county will likely need to be directly involved in the project.

At this time the county has $73 million in aggregate reserves, some of which were reallocated to road paving projects In  the upcoming year. According to Reeve Vandermeer, Red Deer County has made road paving a priority in its budget. The cost per kilometer of paving is about $1 million.

Discussions on the upcoming tax collectible from county residents took place. Last year tax collection fell short by some $2 million and the idea of raising residential taxes by 1% and non residential taxes by 3% seemed to have general council support.

As a matter of interest, the cost of the County newsletter that is mailed to 6,600 county residents bimonthly is about $6,000.

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