Province denying Ponoka funding, further action being touted

MSI and other funding sources now gone until town rescinds motion to withhold property tax money

The provincial government has finally responded to Ponoka’s threat to hold back the education portion of property taxes until it gets money for a fieldhouse.

In a letter sent Jan. 10 from Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson, Mayor Rick Bonnett and council were informed that grants are now being held back from Ponoka until the motion made in November is reversed. The letter is part of the agenda for council’s meeting tonight at 6 p.m.

RELATED: Ponoka council approves holding back tax money from province

“While the motion remains in force, pursuant to Section 175 of the School Act, l am providing notice that the Government of Alberta will withhold grant payments under programs that the Town of Ponoka is eligible for,” the letter outlines.

“Your council is strongly advised to take action to immediately rescind the recent motion to withhold the town’s education property tax requisitions. If this unacceptable situation continues, the province will consider any and all other remedies available to ensure that education property tax funding is received.”

The letter also points out that the province will not be changing its funding model regarding Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funds for projects like the one Ponoka has put forward.

“As you have been made aware, municipal projects under the Culture, Community, and Recreation component cannot be prioritized and forwarded for federal consideration unless a commitment to use MSI as the required provincial cost share amount has been made,” the letter adds.

“Given your decision to not make the commitment to use MSI, the Town’s project has not moved forward for federal consideration. As such, there is no federal funding set aside or available to be released for your fieldhouse project.”

It goes on to say that the province can reduce grants if a municipality defaults on these payments and any overdue amounts will be charged at the prime interest rate plus five per cent.

Capital funding denied

With that said, the town found out last October — a full month before council passed the motion to withhold the payments though the idea had already been floated — that it had been denied a request for about $1.765 million in MSI capital funding to pay for interior improvements needed to new Civic Centre building.

The reason stated by Alberta Municipal Affairs was the asset (building) must be owned by either a municipality, non-profit organization, regional services commission, a controlled corporation or a provincial agency to eligible under the program and not a private corporation.

At tonight’s meeting, council is being presented with a few options including using unrestricted reserves, issuing short-term debentures, a combination of both or exercising a clause in the lease to purchase the building.

Administration is recommending the money come from reserves — unrestricted operation and capital — that current sit around $4.9 million.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Barrel series comes to an end

Winners finally awarded in after months of waiting

230 new COVID-19 cases reported over the weekend

City of Red Deer has nine active cases

Conservatives call for Trudeau to testify at committee on WE Charity deal

Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion is already investigating whether Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Quebec police continue search for father, one day after missing girls found dead

Bodies were found in a wooded area of Quebec City suburb

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Father and his 9-year-old son rescued off of Miquelon Lake this weekend

Wetaskiwin/Camrose RCMP and EPS Air 1 rescue father and son on Miquelon Lake.

Canadian professional chuckwagon racer reflects on cancelled season

This year would have marked Troy Dorchester’s 28th year of racing.

Crowds in Sylvan Lake “commonplace” during summer months

The Town of Sylvan Lake looking for solutions from Province for large crowds not social distancing

Look out, Mars: Here we come with a fleet of spacecraft

Three countries sending unmanned spacecraft

Canmore RCMP respond to multiple hiking injury calls this weekend

EMS and RCMP responded to three separate and unrelated hiking accidents in Kananaskis Country.

Most Read