2016 ... A look back
2016 has come and gone in Starland County and Reeve Barrie Hoover took a moment to recount some of the challenges and achievements over the last year.
He said despite weather challenges this year, agriculture fared better than most expected.
“2016 started out, in the farming area, dry and later the rains came and came. We had an early frost. Most crops are in the bin thanks to a late winter. It was another challenging year but most farmers said crops were better than expected,” he said.
He adds the weather also delayed some projects.
Road building was delayed and was put to next year’s plan because of the amount of rain received through the season.
The economic situation in the province had its affect on the county.
“The County was subject to shrinking assessment and thus lower tax revenue so adjustments had to be made to keep within budgets,” he said. “Less road maintenance because of the downturn of the gas and oil industry.”
There is also more economic uncertainty due to changes in policy at the provincial level.
“Concerns with our new government, mainly of what the carbon tax is really going to cost for every taxpayer. Government is again downloading services to the municipalities with little or no funding. No one seems accountable for their decisions,” he said.
“In the New Year we already know that again, the tax assessment is going down and this means tax revenue will be down so the budgets are going to have to be adjusted so taxes can remain stable. We are trying to keep services at the same level or better, while we know that there will have to be cuts to accomplish this.”
Another interesting issue this year was the thought there was in County employees forming a union but, when it came to a vote, it was no.
Going forward, the County has a big challenge in 2017, as CAO Ross Rawlusyk has decided to retire in the spring.
“We are happy for him but not for us. Ross has done so much, in thirty-plus short years, building the County as it is today. I am not sure how we are going to fill the very large shoes he has left. We wish him all the best for many years to come.”
Starland County Reeve Barrie Hoover ...