By Greg Price
The United Conservative Party’s first provincial budget delivered significant cuts to funding for municipalities earlier this year.
Municipal grant cuts amounting to $236 million over the next three years followed a slew of recommendations from September’s MacKinnon Report to bring spending in line with the rest of the country.
Barnwell village council is well aware there will be some tough choices ahead as it finalizes budgets for 2020, with an interim budget being passed, plus 10 per cent, for what was passed for 2019, at council’s meeting on Nov. 27.
“For me, I listen to the politics very closely and obviously this coming-up budget is one where they’ve already said it’s going to be tightened up. MSI grants are going to be pulled back somewhat and we will have to be prepared to work within our means like we always have,” said Del Bodnarek, mayor of Barnwell, in a media inquiry session after council’s Nov. 21 meeting. “It’s a fact of life, and complaining about it won’t do us any good.”
“We made it through Ralph Klein,” added councillor Ian Matheson, referring to the hack-and-slash cost-cutting moves for provincial budgets during Klein’s reign as Alberta premier from 1992 to 2006 to eliminate the province’s deficit and debt under his watch.
Bodnarek added the Village of Barnwell works really well with the grants it does get for road infrastructure and buildings.
“This (administration) building is part of that as well. We really do appreciate it and work with it as much as we can. If it does get cut back, we’ll definitely miss it,” said Bodnarek. “We don’t live in a vacuum. If you take away money from some place, it’ll have to be taken out from some place else. It’s unfortunate. Our costs remain the same with or without grants. Unfortunately, it will be the ratepayers who will be hurt in the end.”