By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
Bursary offerings expanded
Noting increases to tuition and cost of living, County Council has passed a motion to increase the number of bursary award recipients to three, and has upped the bursary amount to $1,500.
In previous years, the County awarded two bursaries worth $1,000 each. The additional funding will come from the Council Discretionary Reserve.
Deficit transfer approved
Administration made the recommendation for council to approve the reallocation of funds from Restricted Surplus (Reserves) to Unrestricted Surplus be transferred from the Tax Equalization Reserve in the amount of $395,000 to offset the 2022 deficit.
Administration’s report noted, “while there are some significant department deficits due to operational changes, inflation, fuel and supply cost increases, there were some annual budget and year-end transaction entries that contributed to the bottom line,” as well.
“Although it is a significant number, it is approximately 2.5 per cent over the approved budget for 2022, which is well below the 2022 inflation rate.”
According to the report, fleet services, IT, and utilities all had $396,000 in surpluses. It was noted these surpluses would have offset the overall deficit, but were transferred to reserves for the future replacement of fleet and equipment, following council’s approval of the 2023 budget.
Administration noted the fuel has been the most impacted expense due in the past year, noting considerable increases to diesel.
“The fuel cost has been quite high and we have seen that trickle down into a bunch of other things,” including machine parts, filters, and general supply costs up 10-20 per cent on the cost of tires.
Council moved administration’s recommendation.
Bylaw 22-021 – Road Closure, Sale and Consolidation
A pubic hearing was held with respect to Bylaw 22-021. After the Public Hearing and prior to receiving second and third readings, administration explained the bylaw must be sent to the Minister of Transportation for approval.
The road is not required as part of the County’s road network, and the applicant has indicated their intention to consolidate all parcels and road title into one title. Administration said Alberta Transportation established the service road in 1995, but indicated no objections to the applicant’s request for closure.
The application noted the proposed road closure is exclusively for the applicant’s purpose at this time, and would not impact adjacent landowners, or the entrance or canal area owned by St. Mary River Irrigation District (SMRID). “SMRID was clear that they wanted the canal to be part of the public road network.”
Once the Bylaw receives Ministerial approval, second and third reading of the Bylaw can proceed.
2023 Business Tax Bylaw 23-010
First adopted by the County in 2017, the bylaw is projected to generated $1.5 million in revenue. The Business Tax Bylaw allows Lethbridge County to collect a tax levy from applicable agricultural operations, and generates municipal revenues for Lethbridge County to assist with the maintenance and improvements of its paved roads, bridges and for debt repayment.
Following this, the 2023 Business Tax Rate Bylaw 23-011 was presented and subsequently considered by council. Revenue generated will be from specific agriculture businesses, and taxed at a rate of $2.5 per animal unit. As was the case with Bylaw 23-010, Bylaw 23-011 was essentially the same as the 2022 Business Tax Rate Bylaw except for updates to dates and the name of the bylaw. Deputy Reeve Kuerbis asked if it would be appropriate to raise the $2.5 per animal unit, as the rate has been stagnant since 2017.
Bylaw 23-011 passed first and second readings, but did not receive unanimous support by council to consider the bylaw for a third reading, and will be tabled for a future council meeting.