By Eraina Hooyer
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business released its first annual Alberta Municipal Spending Watch. The CFIB found that growth in municipal operating spending is out of control and that population and inflation increased only 34 per cent between 2000 and 2006 while operational spending increased 56 per cent.
The municipal spending watch showed that eight central municipalities had spending that was more than double inflation and population growth including Red Deer County at 5.82, Ponoka County at 3.92 and the County of Wetaskiwin at 3.73.
The report showed the 2006 municipal spending watch for Central Alberta and including Ponoka and Ponoka County.
It showed that Ponoka, with a population of 6,330 had a fiscal responsibility gap of 2.89 and excess spending of $1,875,091 with per capita spending at $1,153.
Ponoka County with a population of 8,810 had a fiscal responsibility gap of 3.92 with excess spending $5,499,240 and $1,661 per capita spending.
Chief administrative officer for the Town of Ponoka, Brad Watson, did not think that the CFIB looked at the information from the right perspective.
Watson says that the Alberta Municipal Spending Watch has a skewed report because sometimes a lot of the funds are spent at one time.
“They don’t take into account the timing on how the money is used. Mostly it’s getting a contractor in and the allowances are spent in one week,” said Watson. “There’s a lot with getting contractors to do the job and that gets us behind in some of these projects. This is more common in a smaller community because the contractors tend to hit the big cities first, so all the grant funds for three years is being spent in one year.”
Watson says that the Town of Ponoka is responsible with the grant money and believes that the CFIB should take other factors into account.
“When you take it in perspective,” he said. “It shows that the town is progressive and aggressive and using the grants properly.”
CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small and medium sized businesses and represents more than 105,000 business owners nationwide, including 9,200 in Alberta.