With very little time left in 2014 and Ponoka County staff steaming ahead with projects for the new year, Reeve Paul McLauchlin is thankful for the good base built over the course of the year.
Early in 2015, McLauchlin says council begins the exciting task of creating a new 10-year plan, as the last large paving project of the current one, designed 10 years ago, began in 2014. “It could be has high as $6 million,” he said of the project.
However, with the lowered cost of bitumen, McLauchlin says council is hoping the cost of the project will come down a bit.
Another major infrastructure item on council’s agenda over the year was the numerous bridges throughout the county and the concern with regard to funding for upgrades.
In the past, the provincial government has provided bridge funding but McLauchlin is not expecting good news any time soon.
“We have started allocating reserves into our bridge funding,” said McLauchlin.
“We have no anticipation the provincial government will step up . . . we’ll continue to budget accordingly,” he added.
McLauchlin says if the county has to fund its bridges solely it will so do while continuing to life within its means and providing services to ratepayers. However, paving projects will have to be pushed to the backburner and community donations will take a hit.
County council has many achievements sitting on its 2014 self and numerous one are the donations given to support advancement from one end of the county to the other.
“I think we’ve moved forward on the land purchase for the Rimbey facility, the senior centre,” said McLauchlin.
Council also contributed to the highly anticipated Agrim Centre in Rimbey.
“On the Ponoka side of things, we have funded some of those groups to help them move forward with their initiatives,” said McLauchlin.
For McLauchlin, one of the biggest concerns of 2014 was continuing the legacy of council. With one retuning councillor after the late 2013 election, he felt it would take dedicated work to continue fostering positive relationships with other municipalities and the provincial government.
McLauchlin says the staff working for the county is the backbone of its successes. “We have a great staff, we’re pretty lucky,” he stressed.
In 2014 Ponoka County also celebrated three 40-year employees.
Sounding optimistic about the budget prospects, “We have every chance of having a bit of a surplus this year,” McLauchlin added.