Group wants to give voice to taxpayers

If you’ve ever been hesitant to speak up about issues Ponoka faces then one group might just provide the support you’re looking for.

If you’ve ever been hesitant to speak up about issues Ponoka faces then one group might just provide the support you’re looking for.

In an effort to keep open lines of communication with Ponoka County and the Town of Ponoka, the Ponoka County and Town Taxpayers Association (PCTTA) intends on bringing taxpayers’ concerns to both municipalities, explained president Robert MacKenzie. “Basically to give people a voice.”

He hopes those who have concerns will contact the group with any issues they have.

“Mostly it’s gripes and complaints. Really our agenda is not to undermine or to try and pass blame to certain individuals. It’s to try and co-operate in the best way we can,” said MacKenzie.

Working with Ponoka County has provided few if any challenges for that group as the municipality is “very transparent.” Issues have arisen and the county addresses them in a timely manner. The PCTTA has the opportunity to be put on any meeting agenda and have its voice heard.

“That is something that is not available to us in town,” he added. “You can’t ask a question of (town) council and it’s pretty much a closed door policy.”

MacKenzie hopes to see more transparent dialogue with council. “What I’m finding and I’m going to be very blunt with this, is secrecy, disunity and power.”

He did say the group has a healthy relationship with some councillors but not all and the goal is to increase communication with the town on all levels to better the community. Slow population growth and a drop in businesses are some of the examples MacKenzie provided as issues for Ponoka and a group such as the taxpayers association can lend its voice to find solutions.

“If we don’t have a council, a mayor and a CAO that’s willing to co-operate with the people and look at the future of the town, nothing’s going to change,” stated MacKenzie.

He also encourages residents speak directly with their councillors if they have issues but if their voices fall on deaf ears then the association can speak with taxpayers and councils.

The PCTTA has several goals:

• To foster a positive relationship with taxpayers and councils.

• To provide open communication on issues councils face and assist taxpayers on lobbying for improvements.

• Advocating for reasonable spending decisions that minimize the effect on taxpayers.

• A vehicle to encourage development appropriate with municipal development plans.

• Bringing taxpayers concerns to council in an appropriate manner.

• To monitor proposals and decisions made by both municipal bodies and their adherence to the Municipal Government Act.

An annual general meeting is scheduled for Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Ponoka County offices and MacKenzie can be contacted at 403-783-5033 or by email at mrgnhill@telus.net for more details.

The group registered in December 2010 and represents residents of Ponoka and the county area close to Ponoka as Rimbey has its own group.

A municipal election will be held in October.