Starland passes operating, capital budgets | DrumhellerMail
Last updateFri, 21 Jun 2024 5pm

Starland passes operating, capital budgets

StarlandCounty 2021

Starland County residents are looking at a 2 per cent increase in their taxes.
Starland County passed its operating and capital budget at its regular meeting on Wednesday, May 22. The operating budget was approved as $16,580,724 and the capital budget was approved as $3,511,705. Capital budget amount includes capital project funding, funding for the gravel crush, as well as cash required to finance capital debt.
Reeve Steve Wannstrom tells the Mail they passed a balanced budget and their tax rate bylaw with a 2 per cent increase in property tax across all assessments on the municipal portion. When adding in requisitions, the residential tax rate increased by 2.46 per cent with a tax rate of 8.5932. The commercial and linear rate, including requisitions, decreased by 1.75, and farmland increased by 2.15 percent.
He is content with the budget because they were able to keep the increase to a minimum despite pressures from inflation. He adds the county’s assessment increased substantially which helped them meet its budget needs.
He adds they were able to deliver this balanced budget without having to dip into reserves.
Corporate services director Judy Fazekas explains one of the pressures on the budget was the continuing issues with tax collections from the oil and gas sector. In 2023, one of its larger oil and gas ratepayers defaulted on their tax payment agreement, and another one is likely insolvent, requiring the County to record $1.445M in bad debt expense (which was close to $1M over budget). For 2024, $1.2 million is budgeted for bad debt expense which is a large portion of our budgeted revenues.
“However, I would like to note that the majority of our oil and gas ratepayers are very good corporate citizens who pay their taxes on time and in full,” said Fazekas.
Wannstrom says it is a business-as-usual budget with not many major projects coming up.
“We’ll be doing a little bit of road work and some gravel crushing, and we’ll be fixing up some of our recreation areas,” said Wannstrom.
Other projects the County is planning include replacing one bridge culvert this summer and to prep, strip, and mine a new county-owned gravel pit in the Hand Hills. Total budgeted costs for these two projects are $1.225 million. Some smaller projects planned include an expansion and upgrades to the Morrin cemetery and dirt work and landscaping at the old Rumsey School site.
The county is continuing to work on its business park development it announced in December of last year. A contracted engineering firm is currently working on the area structure plan for the Morrin Corner Business Park which is expected to be completed sometime in the spring of 2025. Half of the funding for this portion of the project is coming from a Northern and Regional Economic Development grant through the Government of Alberta. The remaining funding is coming from general revenue.

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