After Mayor Rick Bonnett’s landslide election win, assessment growth will be a big focus.
Bonnett said this second chance in the Town of Ponoka’s top political seat means he can focus on increasing the town’s assessment.
“I want to find a way to make sure that we get synergy of all our departments working together,” said Bonnett.
“To make sure that when developers come in that it’s a one-stop check list,” he added.
Bonnett wants to see town planners ensure there is clearer process for developers, which would encourage development in town rather than having to wait several months for movement.
“We need those new assessments and new assessment is going to be important to growing this (town),” said Bonnett.
With three incumbents and three new councillors Bonnett feels this year’s budget deliberations will need some serious communication between administration and council.
Paying attention to the town’s service levels, tax rates compared to similar communities and council honorariums (council salaries are taxable now) are part of the considerations. “A third of your (councillor) earnings are now taxable and it used to be tax free.”
“We’ve also got to figure out how to pay for the Learning Centre this year,” said Bonnett.
Another aspect of planning that will need to be considered is seeing some steps to regionalization from the provincial government in the form of the Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework. This means municipalities will need to set planning documents created with their neighbouring municipalities.
For the Town of Ponoka that technically would be just Ponoka County but for the county, it would be several municipalities. “The workload for this new (town) council is going to be a lot higher and it will also take more dollars.”
Bonnett suggests the town will need to tighten some belts as well as come up with different ways to fund projects. He wants to see the Town of Ponoka manage what is already being done in a more efficient manner.
This will be Bonnett’s last term in the mayor’s seat.
“I’m going to make it very clear to my council at the start that one of them is going to have to step up,” said Bonnett, adding that succession planning will be part of his last term.
He wants to take the hard-earned lessons from the previous term to help this current council. He admitted to a bit of a learning curve when he first stepped into the mayor’s role and he hopes the next mayor will have the tools for success.
In an effort to increase community knowledge, Bonnett invited candidates who didn’t make the cut to take part in different town committees. “They’ve obviously got some passion and some want to be involved.”
He feels if they take part in some of these committees, they will have more information the next time they run for council. “I think our committees have been our greatest sounding boards.”
Bonnett added his goal is to focus on growth and development for Ponoka.