South Peace News
As local governments prepare their final 2021 budgets, M.D. of Smoky River Reeve Robert Brochu had a message for McLennan town council.
“We’re all in the same boat,” he said at the Feb. 8 meeting.
‘Same boat’ is a financial crunch.
Brochu said one taxpayer in the M.D. has not paid taxes in three years totalling several million dollars which has had a big impact on their budget.
“We’re looking at all sorts of cutbacks,” said Brochu.
However, it does not include roads, fire services and the airport.
“We can’t give them up,” said Brochu. “They’re essential.”
He added he has met with the Alberta government to come up with a solution to make the energy companies pay. So far, however, with no success.
“Right now we can’t survive,” he told council.
“We’re looking at cuts. That’s where we’re at.”
The increased requisition in the fire agreement was brought up by Councillor Dwayne Stout.
Brochu responded his council felt it was not fair for their residents to pay $208 per capita compared to $50-60 per capita in the towns and villages.
The Fire Services Agreement, which has not been ratified, proposes a sliding scale increase to 60-40 per cent to Smoky River region villages and towns, up from 75 per cent, by 2025. The M.D. pays the larger percentage while the other four partners split the lower percentage.
The first year  is not affected. Brochu said his council backed off of an immediate increase after realizing the tight financial constraints each council faces.
The Fire Services Agreement sees the M.D. of Smoky River providing service to the Village of Girouxville, Town of Falher, Village of Donnelly and Town of McLennan.