A dramatic spike in expenses forced Ponoka County to reconsider its 2017 funding for the Ponoka Jubilee Library.
At their meeting on Nov. 22, councillors approved hiking the amount of funds provided by $6,500 — taking it to a total of $45,000 — to help the library deal with a 15 per cent jump in operational costs.
Those costs, which amount to nearly $30,000, include higher than anticipated wages for the new library manager and the new janitorial contract along with the hike in minimum wage and having to pay for a bookkeeper. The bookkeeping, up until 2016, had been previous taken care of by the Town of Ponoka so there was no cost to the library.
Back in October, council had determined it would try to hold the line on funding requests, but found there was a need to take another look given the Ponoka library’s financial bind.
“(The Ponoka library) hasn’t asked for an increase for four years and you can tell they are in a situation as they are using up some of their reserves,” stated Reeve Paul McLauchlin.
“They are getting hit from all sides, so once in a while you are going to get requests like this.”
Coun. Mark Matejka added the request could have been higher, while Coun. Doug Weir accepted it as it was for operations.
“However, if this was a capital request to help pay for a new building there is no way I would approve this,” Weir stated.
Not much has changed in the past month regarding the Cutting Edge Tire Recycling saga.
CAO Charlie Cutforth updated council where things are at currently, lamenting the lack of communication from the Alberta Recycling Management Authority (ARMA).
“So far, we have gotten no response back from the management authority to our last request and we need them to get on it,” Cutforth stated in regards to who will pay for the tires and their removal.
He added ARMA is presently negotiating with a company to take 500 of the large tires and the passenger vehicle program tires, while a company that had been looking at taking the industrial-sized recycling equipment has lost interest since it isn’t in operational condition.
Oilsands giant Suncor, that owns many of the large tires at the site, is also willing to participate in the negotiations though Cutforth explained it isn’t known if employees are involved right now because the county hasn’t heard back from ARMA.
“Suncor’s willingness is a good thing as they and ARMA are victims in this, but this is the authority’s problem,” McLauchlin said.
“However, if the program tires go, then it might not be long before they all start not accepting (that) it’s their problem.”
The hope is more news will be available at council’s next meeting on Dec. 13.
One topic that was added to the agenda was the subject of creating a regional peace officer position. It was an idea that came about before the Town of Ponoka decided during their 2017 budget to eliminate a similar position.
Matejka brought up the subject, explaining the concept was for the county to hire a second peace officer that would help with patrols in both Ponoka and Rimbey since neither town could justify hiring one on their own.
He added a second officer would also be better for the county as they could then provide coverage on weekends and better service the summer villages during busy months.
McLauchlin felt it was a great idea, but that the need to have the right enforcement philosophy with both towns is key for it to work.
Administration was directed to follow up with both towns regarding the subject and check to see if its still feasible.