County approves interim budgets for upcoming year

Prior to the Wheatland County Council breaking for the Christmas holiday, the interim operating and capital budgets for 2022 had been approved during the Dec. 21 regular meeting.

County administration had recommended to council that the budgets be approved as presented, following adjustments made after the Nov. 9 and Dec. 8 presentations to the Committee of the Whole and County Council, respectively.

Though the capital budget was initially presented to Council on Dec. 8, only half of the budget was reviewed at the time. The other half was presented during a subsequent Committee of the Whole meeting on Dec. 14, before appearing back before council for final approval.

Each capital project had been reviewed and several had been removed or differed from the budget approval, including the Eagle Lake land improvements, installation of physical fibre optic cables for the Broadband Initiative, landscaping for the administrative building and the engineering and paving of TWP 244 on the western border of the Town of Strathmore.

Administration also received direction from council to increase the operating budget for provincial requisitions by approximately $450,000 during the Dec. 8 council meeting.

Regarding the operating budget, administration noted that during the presentation to the Committee of the Whole on Nov 9, realistically, the administrative budget doesn’t change much year over year.

In 2021, the total on large expenditures accounted for 85.39 per cent of the budget. For 2022, the expenditures are anticipated to be 84.98 per cent of operating budget.

Overall, the County’s 2022 capital budget would total $18.6 million. Some of the budget includes finances that were carried forward from unspent funds in 2021.

Any projects that are not currently in the budget, was noted by administration that they could be added back at a later time, pending council approval.

During the Dec. 21 regular council meeting, Councilor Glenn Koester suggested running a traffic count on TWP 244 over a span of two weeks to get a better idea of traffic flow prior to speaking with the Town of Strathmore about cost sharing for the project.

Reeve Amber Link said for her, addressing TWP 244 was less about commuter numbers and more about maintaining the road itself along with the potential effects on other nearby developments.

“For me, this was less about traffic counts at this time and more about just wear and tear on the road and as well as about impeding the actual construction with our paving because that could really hinder the developers because there is such significant construction happening on that side in that residential development right now,” said Link.

“Those were some of my considerations in supporting the removal of that at this time, not to say that I wouldn’t contemplate it in the future and I think that, that information would be key at that time … I wonder if it would be more relevant when the development is complete.”

No final decisions regarding how to necessarily address the road were made during the meeting.

The interim 2022-24 operating, and 2022-26 capital budgets were ultimately approved without further revision.

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