A pair of requests for Ponoka County to contribute funds for work on recreational opportunities has won approval of council.
The two requests, from Johnson’s Beach and the Summer Village of Parkland Beach, were passed unanimously at council’s meeting on Sept. 24.
Just over $41,000 was committed from the county’s 2020 budget to the project, which will help support the Community Facility Enhancement Program grant application that the Westlake Society/Friends of the Lake Front are submitting for a proposed sports park.
The park would include the construction of a tennis/pickle ball court that would be available to the public.
Council approved the idea since the summer village is also lending its financial support to the proposal.
At Johnson’s Beach at Red Deer Lake on the county’s eastern edge, the county has committed financially to reconstructing the washroom and concession building at the campsite area.
“The structure has deteriorated badly and is not in good shape, so a quote has been received for just under $20,000,” stated CAO Charlie Cutforth.
“Just to remind council that the county is the registered owner of this facility and it is operated on a volunteer basis by the Johnson’s Beach association. The county has contributed from time to time over the years for various improvements and ongoing expenses. However, beyond that, the group has been fairly self-sufficient.”
Coun. Bryce Liddle added at some point it becomes the county’s problem since they do own it, so something needs to be done.
In addition, Cutforth stated the price for the work is very reasonable and if the facility continues to get the use out of it that the campground does each year, then it will be well worth it.
A new motion was passed by council on the property tax relief being handed to operators of shallow gas wells, now that the provincial government has finalized how it is supposed to work
That meant a motion approved in August had to be rescinded and this new one passed to replace it.
Cutforth explained the county only recently received details on what linear assessment and specific properties qualify for the cancellation or refund of taxes paid or owing in 2019 in order to reduce the overall amount by 35 per cent.
“The bottom line to the county is $467,858.02, so it’s in the ballpark of what we estimated,” he said.
“To clarify, we now also apply to the province for a reduction in the school property tax requisition. However, if it becomes permanent — which it is being assumed it will — there is no guarantee of funding support then we can assume that we would have to cover that reduction through our own resources.”
Council approved the 30 cent per capita increase to $8.55 per resident requested by the Parkland Regional Library in their 2019-20 budget request. The overall amount of the county’s contribution will rise about $3,000 to a total of just over $83,000.
Cutforth stated that both the Rimbey and Ponoka public libraries rely heavily on the regional system for not only books, but for other services as well including administrative and technical support.
Coun. Doug Weir, who represents council on the board of the regional library added the organization is run rather lean, just like the county and the increase is about keeping an adequate level of compensation for staff in order to retain the good people that are there.
McLauchlin was fine with approving the hike, though he noted that things may change quickly once the provincial budget is released on Oct. 24, adding there will likely be a call for more money if the board finds it has a shortfall due to cuts in grants from the province.