Mayor Rick Bonnett

Mayor Rick Bonnett

Ponoka council freezes Ponoka Fire Department spending

All discretionary spending frozen until full budget numbers are presented

All discretionary spending for the Ponoka Fire Department (PFD) has been frozen.

Town of Ponoka council made the decision after a lengthy in camera session Nov. 14. The decision was made the same evening that a proposed fire services bylaw was presented to council but was tabled.

The tabling motion came from Coun. Carla Prediger who said that seeing a desire from council and residents to move towards regional services, amending the fire services bylaw may be unnecessary. The tabling motion, and spending freeze, was approved 6-0, Coun. Sandra Lyon was not in attendance.

There was a member of the Alberta Office of the Fire Commissioner who appeared ready to make a presentation to council but his name and his appearance was not scheduled in the regular agenda.

Since the request was tabled, it is up to council to bring it back.

Speaking on the spending freeze, Mayor Rick Bonnett said council understands the importance of working with Ponoka County on regional fire services.

“Let’s not start throwing money at things until we know where we’re going,” said Bonnett on tabling the proposed fire services bylaw.

He pointed out that the results of the last election showed quite clearly that residents want to see a reduction of duplicate services, especially with regard to fire services, and town council is moving to make that happen.

One request from town council is to see the full PFD budget numbers, line by line, which is also one reason budget deliberations have been moved until after the new year.

Generally, administration would prepare budget packages for November and council would get the numbers approved before the end of the year. That has been changed to give administration more time and to have a better handle on the budget numbers.

The only budget that needs approval before the New Year is the operations side of things, said Bonnett. He added that now council will be able to look at the town’s capital budget with more information such as what grants are approved.

The PFD’s regular operations continue as it’s only additional capital or unplanned spending that is frozen.

Central AlbertaMunicipal budgetsPonoka Fire Department