News | DrumhellerMail - Page #2899
Last updateThu, 30 Nov 2023 8am

Starland eliminates long-term debt

    Starland County has reached a milestone in achieving no long-term debt.
    CAO Ross Rawlusyk said they have retired the last of their long-term debt from the Alberta Capital Authority. As it stands, the county has no outstanding long-term borrowing.
    “I think it is an achievement to eliminate the long term debt and the burden of having to pay any interest. From my standpoint as an administrator, I think it is good news,” said Rawlusyk.
    He said in 2010 they still had about $276,000 outstanding long-term debt and paid more than $6,000 in interest.
     Because of this achievement, it means Starland's borrowing capacity is much higher. The county’s debt capacity sits at over $18 million.
    “While we have a lot of debt capacity, it feels good to know we don’t need to use it,” said Rawlusyk.
    “To me there are two components. It allows us to reinvest anything we would have been contributing towards debt payment or interest costs. It gives you more flexibility. It creates a stability too, because you don’t have to raise sufficient funds to budget in long-term debt payments.”
    Another plus, according to Rawlusyk, is being able to demonstrate to companies looking for a place to do business that the county’s tax system is sustainable and the municipality has a long range plan.
    He says he has taken a look at municipal profiles from neighbouring communities including the Town of Drumheller on the Municipal Affairs website, which uses 2009 statistics. Within the region there is about $34 million in long-term debt. The average debt per capita is over $1,000. This was before funds were borrowed for the Badands Community Facility.
    The Village of Morrin is also long-term debt free, according to Rawlusyk.
    “Council has a good long range plan and it helps us to pick our priorities and pick projects that we can get done if possible using grants,” he said.
    He points out that many of the surrounding municipalities debts have to do with municipal water. Starland has been able to utilize grants to make their water improvements, which have a value of about $20 million.
    The county is also approaching completion of a major renovation of its offices, which has also drawn upon grant programs.
    One focus they would like to work on is reducing short-term or operating debt. While the municipality collects its taxes on September 30, it has commitments throughout the year including quarterly Alberta School Foundation Fund payments.
    “By the time we get our first tax dollar in for the year, we have already made $1.5 million in school payments. What that does is take away from our operating cash, so then when we get into the end of August we are becoming operating cash poor.”
    He says they are working on a resolution that would see them not having to make school payments before they collect the revenue.
    “That would address any short term borrowing issues,” said Rawlusyk.
    The county's next goal is to build up its reserves.
    “What we are trying to do is instead of borrowing we are trying to save money to buy things we might need,” said Rawlusyk.

Chinook Credit Union breaks ground on Drumheller Branch

    Chinook Credit Union has taken another step in its history in Drumheller and broke ground on its new branch.
    The branch, to be located on the site of the former Home Hardware, across from the post office has been in the works for a couple of years. On Friday afternoon, they officially kicked off the project.
    “It is very gratifying to get this off the ground. We have been looking forward to this for a very long time,” said Tom Mossing, president and CEO of Chinook Credit Union. “Drumheller is a very important part of business. We believe in the future here and are looking forward to doing more business with the folks here.”
    The branch will be a newly constructed full service facility, complete with ATM service and drive through.
    “It includes all of our wealth managements services, which is certainly a core product of what the credit union is offering,” said Jim Chisholm, vice president of sales and wealth management.”
    The project is designed by Ron Boruk Architecture and is being constructed by Shunda Consulting and Construction Management of Red Deer. The price tag for the whole project is in the area of $5 million.
    The Credit Union has had a presence in Drumheller since 1968 when Hussar and District Saving opened a branch. Since 1999 they have been in the downtown location, with about 15 local staff.
    “Drumheller has had a track record of success,” said Mossing.
    Mossing said machinery will be on the site in the very near future and are aiming to be open in the fall of 2012.

Hussar arena supported by Cenovus for new ice surfacing machine

    It came straight out of the Saddledome and onto the ice of the Hussar Arena.
    The Hussar Agricultural Society will soon have a new ice surfacing machine thanks to the generosity of Cenovus.
    On Thursday afternoon, a representative of Cenovus presented the Hussar Ag Society with a donation of $50,000 to go towards the purchase of a new ice surfacing machine.
    “It is going to be really nice," said Kailee Dundas, secretary of the Hussar Ag Society. “It keeps the ice better, it’s easier to run, and it is energy efficient.”
    The Hussar arena will be celebrating its 10th anniversary, and there is a healthy amount of minor hockey and recreational hockey being played in the arena. There are also figure skating and power skating programs.
    This year they are also reviving the ringette program after about 15 years. This is close to Dundas’ heart as she played for Team Canada.
    “We are super excited to have it,” she said.
    Dundas adds the arena is for everybody; a place for kids to dream and teenagers to blow off steam, and for adults wanting to get in better shape.
    The ice surfacing machine is a 2008 Olympia, and has a laser levelling system to produce high quality ice efficiently. It replaces a unit that has nearly 30 years of service.
    Leanne Courchesne of Cenovus said the donation is in line with how Cenovus operates.
    “It’s giving back to a community where we live and operate for youth and all people to use. Recreation, health and safety, and well being are key components, and we are very happy to give back to that,” said Courchesne.


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