Ponoka County finances looking fine

Ponoka County remains in a good financial position, in spite of seeing their outstanding taxes more than doubling over this time last year.

The county remains in a good financial position, in spite of seeing their outstanding taxes more than doubling over this time last year.

As of last week, Ponoka county is owed about $700,000 with $440,000 of that total being tied to one resource company that is currently in receivership. CAO Charlie Cutforth told council Tuesday, March 22 during a regular meeting he is skeptical that money will ever be collectible.

However, the county’s financial position is relatively close to what it was last year the only difference being is the around $3 million that was on hand at the time to pay for the major construction of Iola Road that was finished late last fall.

Town of Ponoka Mayor Rick Bonnett also appeared in front of council during the meeting and updated the county on where things stand on the recreation master plan development, which included a statement that there will likely be a request coming to help pay a share of the estimated $80,000 for a building design plan for the town’s planned revamp of the Culture and Recreation Complex.

“We want to get this all in place this year since all we have been hearing is that federal and provincial funding will be available, but they want the projects to be shovel ready,” Bonnett stated.

“It would be nice to work together on this. We have asked this process be expedited and the hope is to see this plan by the fall.”

County Reeve Paul McLauchlin and the rest of council expressed support to keep the discussion open on the idea and that they would ensure money would be available in the budget for such an expense.

Further into the discussion was what was being spent on capital this year, which led to a question on if money is available should the need arise to build a new fire hall in the Meridian Beach area.

Cutforth answered by pointing out there is nearly $1.2 million in their development trust account money paid by developers so that services can be put in place for residents which is more than enough to construct one without using funds from other sources.

Capital purchases have eaten up a big chunk of those available funds already in 2016. This includes the purchase of land and a building for the new East County Fire Hall, a new digital radio system for the entire regional fire department along with new breathing apparatus for the firefighters, a replacement vehicle for the county peace officer and work to be done on the Lloyd Creek bridge.

Request granted

Town of Ponoka Coun. Teri Underhill, member of a local committee organizing Canada Day and Day in the Park activities in Ponoka attended council’s meeting to put forth request for sponsorship from the county.

Council approved donating $1,000 to each of the events after last year’s request for support came just two weeks before Canada Day, leaving no time for the county to consider what they could provide.

The Canada Day event begins with a picnic in Centennial Park with some live bands plus kids and other entertainment running from 7 to 11 p.m. followed by the usual fireworks show. Similar activities are also planned for the Aug. 26 Day in the Park event.