Ponoka Mayor takes to the road advocating for grant funding

Rimbey council shows mix of feelings related to the issue of withholding property taxes

The Town of Ponoka is seeking support from area councils in its push for grant funding.

Rimbey’s town council will have time to consider the pros and cons of the Bonnett’s plea for a letter of support after Ponoka’s council decided to take some action against the provincial government.

Ponoka has done that by announcing it is withholding the education portion of the town’s property taxes.

At its Jan. 8 meeting, Bonnett met with Rimbey council and explained that the town decided to withhold the taxes after they had waited several years for funding to build a new fieldhouse and an aquatics facility at the town’s recreation centre.

Bonnett pointed out that it is not just Ponoka that gets passed over for funding, noting that all rural municipalities suffer from lack of funding while the cities grab the bulk of the dollars.

“We were told we could use MSI (Municipal Sustainability Initiative) funding,” he said, noting that that money works out to about $1.1 million per year and is needed for basic infrastructure needs.

Bonnett said all small community councils need to stand together.

Mayor Rick Pankiw said the issue will be discussed at a later meeting, but added his support of the endeavour.

“I support it 100 per cent. If rural Alberta does not get together we are going to fall behind. It’s a two-tiered system out there in regards to money and I’m sick and tired of playing second fiddle to the cities.”

However, Coun. Paul Payson, who is a school teacher at Rimbey Christian School, did have some concerns.

“For me it’s very muddled,” he said. “To me the awkward side of it is that’s where my paycheque comes from.”

Bonnett plans to speak to several councils to garner support for Ponoka council’s decision to withhold the school taxes.

At a press conference held in late November, Town of Stettler Mayor Sean Nollis attended to show his support.

Ponoka’s Mayor is on the road to meet with area councils on the issue.

Council accepted Bonnett’s request as information.

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