Reeve's Ramblins

Municipal District to Work With New Elected Officials
I'd like to start off by congratulating Premier Rachel Notely on her election victory on May 5th as well as Mr. Dave Schneider and Mr. Grant Hunter in the Little Bow and Cardston I Taber I Warner constituencies. The Council of the Municipal District of Taber will, as always, work proactively with our elected officials to the benefit of the residents of the MD. of Taber. It should be an interesting few years as we continue to be represented by members of the position however for the next 5 years with governing and opposition parties who are considerably farther apart philosophically than ever before. It is our hope the government and opposition will work cooperatively in Edmonton to find innovative solutions to the issues at hand.

There are many questions we as a municipal council continue to have with respect to the plans and objectives of the new provincial government including the partially completed Municipal Government Act review, the status of the Municipal Sustainability Initiative which provides the majority of the funding the municipality has used in the past 8 years for projects from water plants to roads. In addition we continue to seek information regarding funding for strategic infrastructure including resource roads and bridge rehabilitation as well as funding for flood mitigation and other issues which impact the citizens of the MD. Even though I'm sure you haven't contemplated these issues recently the outcome of these decisions will impact you as citizens as the policies affect taxation, assessment, the municipal tax base and the availability of grant funding to finance major projects, planning and development legislation and other issues.
A portrait of Reeve Brian Brewin
It appears as if changes are coming with respect to farm workers which may include requirements for workers compensation board coverage for farm workers which also may include requirements to meet occupational health And safety standards. There are certainly lots of rumors and rumors of rumors but not much fact at this point. Based upon recent comments by the Minister of Agriculture it appears our agricultural producers can expect some Significant changes which will impact farm labour.

You'll find a diverse amount of information in this edition of the newsletter. One of the items of particular interest is the article on 'municipal reserves'. It is an informative piece that should shed some light on why the municipality has reserves and why they are important.

Within this whole discussion of reserves you should become familiar with the term ā€¯Infrastructure debt" which is the difference between investment needs for infrastructure and the past I current expenditures for infrastructure. One prime example is the water distribution system in one of the hamlets. In 1964 it cost $6500 to install the entire water distribution system within the hamlet, and in 2010 it cost $2.2 million to replace it. The gap between what it cost to build and what it will cost to replace is the infrastructure debt that we inevitably incur whenever any infrastructure is built At this time we believe our 25 year infrastructure debt is approximately $75 million. It is going to take a steady and regular investment to ensure that we don't fall behind in identifying needed infrastructure replacement items. Although our municipal reserves appear sizeable they are only a fraction of the funds needed to replace existing infrastructure which grows older by the day. Be sure to read this article.

Recently Council has adopted a 4 year capital project plan which identified many infrastructure projects that we hope to complete. It is an aggressive plan which focuses on transportation infrastructure. There are many demands being made on the municipality by our neighboring communities for significant funding for recreation and cultural facilities. Our Council however believes that we must first focus on maintaining, constructing and rehabilitating the roads, bridges and other community infrastructure that keeps the economy rotting - it isn't a popular approach with our municipal neighbors but we are certain that it is the right approach. The other stuff is nice to have, but we must ensure our core community assets which include roads and bridges are in a condition which will support continued economic growth and expansion.

For matters outside of our realm of control we hope that the new government continues to examine opportunities to invest in agriculture.

Attracting and retaining value added processing is the key to ensuring the growth of new cropping opportunities such as hemp, poppy seed and small niche markets like medical marijuana. These new crops grow alongside our burgeoning vegetable production as well as our traditional grains and oilseeds and livestock sectors. Given an assurance of market access and an absence of state funded subsidy our producers can compete well in a world market. It is my belief that the food production globally, and our abundant ability to produce it locally will provide for continued success of our primary and value added agriculture industry.