2016 ... A look back

The Drumheller Mail - - NEWS - Pa­trick Ko­lafa

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 ...

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