Federal budget not impacting Ponoka County

As far as any impacts from the recent federal budget, Ponoka County doesn’t believe it will affect them directly.

As far as any impacts from the recent federal budget, Ponoka County doesn’t believe it will affect them directly.

Chief administrative officer (CAO) Charlie Cutforth stated in an interview last week the federal budget that was presented last month really won’t change anything for the county in 2016.

“Two years ago, we received about $3.3 million through the (federal) Building Canada fund to help pay for the widening of Menaik Road,” he said, with that project scheduled to begin later this spring.

“However, unless we find another project to apply for, then this budget doesn’t have much for us.”

The bigger concern for Cutforth, and the county council, is next week’s provincial budget that has seen all sorts of rumours and trial balloons being floated from various sources.

When Cutforth, along with the council, attended the annual Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC) convention last month, they heard the budget might not look so great.

“However, what we also heard was that counties and municipal districts wouldn’t be taking as big a hit in the budget as we might have expected,” he said.

“Since then, though, there have been rumblings about cutbacks and eliminating grants so you just never know.”

The province brings out the budget on April 14 and if there are changes to the present funding model and something that significantly impacts the county, Cutforth explained the county will work hard to lessen the hit to residents.

“Thankfully, our county is positioned better than than most,” said Cutforth, who always takes a bit of ribbing from other CAOs about his operation.

“It’s good-natured about how we make them look bad about fewer employees and lower taxes. Right now, we are in a good position to withstand any economic difficulties for at least one year.”

However, if the sluggish economy continues in the longer term or if the provincial government dramatically changes the financial situation, then Cutforth stated the county’s strategy will have to be adjusted when the county finalizes their 2016 budget on April 21.