Ponoka County to keep annual tabs on contributions spent

Council to get yearly update on status of contributions during budget deliberations

Following up on a previous request from council, CAO Charlie Cutforth reported on the status of contribution commitments the county has outstanding.

He presented the information to council at a recent meeting.

Commitments include $70,000 in next year’s budget for Parkland Beach improvements; an estimated $40,000 of in-kind gravel for the Ponoka airport runway extension; $400,000 for enclosing the area between the barn and the main area at the Calnash Ag Events Centre; plus $455,000 for Rimbey Agrim improvements.

Cutforth noted only the Rimbey project is ongoing and has seen $138,000 actually spent, with another $120,000 being a loan guarantee.

“Currently, Parkland Beach has applied for a matching grant and no county funds will be dispersed until the project is physically underway. The airport is still pending as the town is in talks with the province about a lack of funding,” he stated.

There were two other projects that the county was looking at possibly funding — the Bluffton School playground and a new fieldhouse in Ponoka.

“The county has not committed any money to the playground project, which is worth $155,000, and the $1.75 million for the fieldhouse was taken back because of the province changing its stance on how it would fund its share,” Cutforth added.

The provincial government announced in September that municipalities would have to use their Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funds as the provincial portion of any project, a decision that would reduce the amount of funding available for municipalities to use.

Coun. Mark Matejka wondered if an expiry date should be placed on some of these funding commitments, more specifically the money set aside for the airport runway project.

“I think we need to put an end date on some of these instead of it just sitting there until the project comes along,” he stated.

“The airport is one of them. Both of the ag (buildings) are ongoing, but the airport has no end day. It’s something that we need to think about.”

Cutforth recommended that one way to keep the budget on track is to have any unspent contributions from the previous year brought forward during budget discussions.

“Council can then decide to carry those amounts forward or not,” he said.

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