Ponoka County council is not interested in more meetings, but still wants to be informed.
During council’s organizational meeting on Oct. 11, council made a pair of changes to its committee structure.
The most significant of those was declining the invitation from the Town of Ponoka to officially be a part of four committees — recreation, police, library and economic development.
Coun. Mark Matejka did express a concern that not having someone at the table might put them at a disadvantage since there will be some significant contribution requests coming forward.
However, CAO Charlie Cutforth explained those requests are likely best dealt with by the entire council and that it would be better to collaborate than simply go to more meetings.
“I don’t think we really have anything more to add (on those committees) and that participating on an ad-hoc basis would still allow us to address any issues,” he said.
“Regardless, for all involved, it would be better for all of council to deal with it since if the committee votes in favour of a motion then those members are obligated to support it even if they oppose it, then it puts them in an impossible situation when it comes to council.”
Council then determined the best path would be to simply go and observe at any committee meeting they wanted to and administration was to send a response stating that to the town and thanking them for the invite.
Ponoka County will also no longer be a member of the Central Alberta Economic Partnership.
Also at the organizational meeting, Paul McLauchlin was re-named as Reeve and Bryce Liddle will once again be deputy reeve.
Gun range uproar
A pair of county residents presented a petition to council in hopes of getting changes at a shooting range near their homes.
Unfortunately, Cutforth explained the range — which is located in the County of Wetaskiwin and approved earlier this year — is outside the county’s jurisdiction and there is little that can be done.
The petition lays out several complaints including excessive noise, problems with permit compliance, a variety of safety complaints and the complete lack of sufficient notification of area residents.
While sympathetic to the issue, McLauchlin stated all that could be done is for Ponoka County to take up the notification issue with the administration in Wetaskiwin while the residents may want to explore possible legal options due to an apparent lack of appropriate processes being followed.
Library funding passed
While several other participating municipalities in the Parkland Regional Library are supporting a call for a zero-percent budget increase, Ponoka County passed a motion during its regular meeting Oct. 11 to support the two-percent hike in the per-capita funding, which will see the county pay $8.04 per resident to the regional library board.
Coun. Doug Weir stated he feels they do a good job spending the money they receive with Cutforth adding that both the Ponoka and Rimbey libraries rely heavily on those funds to operate.
The increase will mean another $1,200 will go to the regional library.
Carbon levy effect
Alberta’s soon-to-be levy on carbon will have some effect on Ponoka County, though the overall hit can’t be determined until it’s actually implemented, McLauchlin told the rest of council.
He ran some preliminary numbers recently, based upon last year’s usage, and found the net increase to the county’s costs should be around eight percent on both fuel and utilities. That roughly translates into about $50,000 more in gasoline and diesel costs and close to $11,000 more for lights and heat.
However, McLauchlin added no one is quite sure how the carbon tax is going to affect power prices, especially with the provincial government’s plan to cut coal-produced power by 2030.
“And it’s a tax on top of a tax, as the amount will not be exempt from the GST,” he stated, adding a rural area like Ponoka County would sink more carbon than could be produced by both the towns of Rimbey and Ponoka plus all of the county residents combined.
“This has nothing to do with the environment and there is not a lot anyone can do to get this back.”