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Last updateFri, 11 Jun 2021 10am

Village of Morrin passes 2021 Operating and Capital budget

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The draft 2021 Operating and Capital Budget were brought back before the Village of Morrin Official Administrator for final approval during the regular council meeting on Wednesday, May 19.
Previously, during the April council meeting, the draft budget and 2020 audited financial statements were brought before the village’s Official Administrator and accepted as information for final approval at a later council meeting.
“The draft budget had a $49,000 deficit because there had been no change in revenues or the approaches as to how to address that deficit and we have now worked closely together to finalize the final budget to be a balanced budget,” Official Administrator Harold Johnsrude said during the meeting.
He noted he is in a unique position of passing and creating a budget and tax rate bylaw without being part of the community.
There were several significant changes to the finalized budget which was presented.
Utilities in the village are “significantly underfunded” according to Johnsrude, and a 10 per cent increase in utility fees will come into effect July 1.
He noted $29,302 from the Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) was added to the budget—$24,302 will go toward offsetting unpaid taxes while the remaining $5,000 will be used as a grant to the arena.
The tax rate of 12.88 per cent for residential and farmland properties will remain the same; however, due to higher property assessments there may be some minor changes to tax rolls in 2021.
Mr. Johnsrude noted the 2021 Capital Budget included some projects which were started in 2020, including upgrades to the truck fill and road repairs.
Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding, which was received in 2020, will be used to complete the projects. Approximately $321,000 will be taken from MSI funding, with an additional $11,000 taken out of the Village of Morrin’s surplus to complete these projects.
Mr. Johnsrude carried the motion to approve the final 2021 Operating budget of $534,300 and Capital budget of $324,413.


Alberta unveils ambitious job plan

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The Alberta Government has unveiled what is being described as the largest job plan in Alberta history.
Minister of Labour and Immigration Jason Copping hosted a round table with Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) editors to discuss the Alberta Jobs Now Program.
“We recognize the impact of the pandemic on working Albertans is going to last a lot longer,” said Minister Copping. “We have got through the last year, one of the worst global economic recessions, statically a depression, and one of the biggest crashes in energy prices.”
The Alberta Jobs Now program will provide up to $370 million to help private and non-profit businesses support much-needed jobs for unemployed and underemployed Albertans across the province.
Employers can apply for a grant that covers 25 percent of an employee’s salary for a 52-week period up to a maximum of $25,000 per employee. The grant can be used to cover salary or training costs.
“Right now, we are sitting at approximately 9 per cent unemployment, two points higher than when we came into the pandemic. We are only second behind Newfoundland, tied with Ontario in terms of our unemployment rate,” said Copping. “We were the first government to launch an economic plan, the Alberta Recovery Plan, which had three key elements.
These elements include investment in infrastructure, and they invested $20 billion from future years to invest in projects to get people working. The government also focused on creating an environment for investment, this included the job development tax cut. The third element is diversification.
The next element is the Alberta Jobs Now Program.
“This program will help an estimated 22,000 Albertans get back to work,” he said. Not only is it designed to get Albertans back to work, but get them back to full-time permanent positions.”
The program is eligible to small, medium, and large employers, in the private and non-profit sectors. There is no requirement for profit loss or revenue loss.
“This program is focused on Alberta employers who want to create jobs and are willing to make a commitment to that job for at least 52 weeks,” he said.
Employers will be able to apply for a grant that covers 25 per cent of an employee’s salary for a 52-week period up to a maximum of $25,000 per employee. The grant can be used to cover salary or training costs. Employers who hire persons with disabilities will receive a grant 1.5 times higher than the amount they receive for other new employees.
Employers will be able to apply at alberta.ca/jobsnow as of 9 a.m. on May 20. They can apply for funding for up to 20 new employees. Employers have until August 31 to apply. A second intake will open on September 15 and close on December 31.

Unused scholarship funds transferred to Wheatland Crossing School

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Unused scholarship funds from the Reg Thurston Memorial Scholarship, and a decision on how these funds will be handled, was up for discussion by Wheatland County council members during the regular Tuesday, April 20 council meeting.
A total of $8,270.91 has been held in trust by the county since the scholarship was established in 2003; however, these funds have remained unused since 2007.
“Auditors have asked to look into two unused scholarship funds,” said general manager of Corporate and Financial Services Tracy Buteau during the meeting. “The school division (Golden Hills School Division) has recommended contacting the principal at Wheatland Crossing school to award scholarships and awards.”
Reg Thurston spent more than two decades serving both Wheatland County and school board--in the position of Reeve and Deputy Reeve of the county, and Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the school board. The memorial scholarship was established in 2003 to honour his commitment and dedication to education and his municipality.
The student with the highest blended mark for English 30, Social Studies 30, Mathematics 30, and a science-either Chemistry 30, Physics 30, or Biology 30-was to be awarded with a $100 scholarship and plaque every June following diploma examinations.
Due to a miscommunication between the school district and Wheatland County, the scholarship has not been awarded since 2007.
“This is a great way to honour Mr. Thurston’s legacy of service,” Wheatland County Reeve Amber Link said during final discussions.
Council unanimously voted in favour to transfer the unused scholarship funds to Wheatland Crossing and to increase the scholarship amount to $500.


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