By Heather Cameron
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The following are selected briefs from the M.D. of Taber Council meeting that took place on December 12, 2023.
Naamiya Hoekstra Basketball Trip to Europe
Taber local Naamiya Hoekstra spoke to Council and explained that she had been selected to be part of a travel basketball team that will go to Europe to play other teams in the summer of 2024. Hoekstra stated that she will be the only Canadian on the team and she is excited to play a sport she loves, and is excited to be coming from a place that has taught her hard work. She also thanked the M.D. of Taber for giving her the opportunity to talk to Council about the opportunity she will have to represent her community playing basketball in Europe, emphasizing that she hopes to use this great opportunity for personal growth.
Hoekstra stated that she is also excited to be an ambassador for Canada, Alberta, and Taber and also excited to further develop her leadership skills on and off the court and to grow. Her parents, Hoekstra said, have always taught her the importance of using every opportunity to serve and be a positive example. Southern Alberta, Hoekstra said, is such a great place to live and the M.D. of Taber, she said, represents so many great things. Hoekstra said that her favourite part of the trip will be representing this great place.
When she plays basketball in the big cities, Hoekstra said, she wants to leave at the end of the game knowing that the people have a different impression of the abilities of the kids in the area. Hoekstra said it makes her proud to represent Taber on the global stage and that 12 years ago, she and her family moved to Taber from Ontario because they knew there would be more opportunities as a family for recreation and sports. Alberta, Hoekstra says, is a great place to live and the trip will give her an opportunity to explore the world, see new places, and be able to play against some of the best girls in her age category. In addition to her upcoming trip, Hoekstra says, she will be putting on a basketball camp this January for kids to help develop their skills. Hoekstra said she hopes to continue doing the camp for years to come so she can give back to the community that supports her. The organization she is representing, Hoekstra said, has basketball camps all over the world and she even attended their camp in Olds, was an All-Star there twice, and won the Best Offensive Female Player Award there. Hoekstra said she wants to use her basketball skills to work hard and motivate others to do the same, as she loves setting a precedent for young girls and expressed the thought to Council that she thinks it would be great if the M.D. of Taber was known for developing young female athletes.
Council expressed gratitude to Hoekstra for her presentation and said they were glad to have her as an ambassador.
Arlos Crofts, the Chief Administrative Officer for the M.D. of Taber, informed Council that he wanted to highlight the tax revenue, as it was pointed out in the corporate services section of the CEO report that up to this point, the M.D. is at a 92 per cent collection rate, which is a marked improvement from previous years.
Deputy Reeve DeGroot gave the first motion that Council adopts the M.D. of Taber 2024 interim operating budget in accordance with Section 242 D1 of the Municipal Government Act. When opportunity for discussion came up, Administration expressed concern about the proposed taxation rates being so far above the rate of inflation. Administration also had a concern about the residential tax being three per cent change, plus the change in assessed value, as then it becomes a squeeze for rate payers with the inflation rate coming down and the concern is that a squeeze is being created for the rate payers in the municipality. Deputy Reeve DeGroot then expressed a different concern about the nine per cent increase on farmland and the amount of dollars that brings to the municipality versus the three per cent on residential. As agricultural operations get more intense, DeGroot said, and the M.D may have to purchase more equipment to look after the infrastructure so that the M.D. has a good flow to allow the municipality’s products to get to market, his feeling was that the M.D. maybe does not have enough associated to the farmland, and they’re putting more on to the residential. DeGroot admitted he would like to see more discussion regarding that point. There was also discussion among other Councillors from people within the farming community in the M.D., that the mill rate going up is a concern among the farming community. Council admitted that as far as non-residential and residential rates, they are not sure where the assessment values might go and how much of an impact that will have on business owners and residences within the M.D. Taxes, Council said, are getting awfully high in a time when inflation is also hitting everyone hard and there is a concern that if assessments go up, everyone will be hit pretty hard. Arlos Crofts, Chief Administrative Officer for the M.D. of Taber, then spoke about the interim budget and how the mill rate will reflect based on when the assessment is formalized. Crofts stated that Council has the opportunity to set the mill rate once they have the new and most current assessment and he does expect assessment values to increase as they have the last couple years just because of what’s being being realized in the market. Ultimately, the motion that Deputy Reeve DeGroot made that Council adopt the M.D. of Taber 2024 interim operating budget in accordance with Section 242 D1 of the Municipal Government Act, was carried.
Councillor Harris then made a motion that Council adopt the M.D. of Taber Capital budget in accordance with Section 245 of the Municipal Government Act. That motion was approved.
Councillor Classen then made a motion that Council approve the M.D. of Taber 2025 to 2027 Operating Plan in accordance with Section 281, Subsection 1-2 of the Municipal Government Act. When the floor opened for discussion, Council asked Crofts to speak about the reason why the M.D. has a three-year operating plan. Crofts explained that one reason is because its required with respect to the Municipal Government Act where municipalities are required to have a three-year operating plan. The second reason, Crofts said, is because it is good financial practice to have some foresight or forecasting considerations when looking at municipal budgeting and operating over more than just one year. Ultimately, after further discussion, Councilor Classen’s motion that Council approve the M.D. of Taber 2025-2027 Operating Plan in accordance with Section 281, Subsection 1-2 of the Municipal Government Act was carried.
Councillor Turcato then made a motion that Council approve the M.D. of Taber 2025 to 2029 Capital Plan in accordance with Section 283.15. That motion was carried.
Advanced Alberta Immigration Program Funding Request
Council discussed a Request for Decision that the M.D. of Taber enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Town of Taber for administering and implementing the Advanced Alberta Immigration Program (AAIP) Rural Renewal Stream for businesses located within the M.D of Taber and also approve the associated Development and Planning, Economic Development operating budget amendment with an increase of $9,000 dollars annually. Council discussed the Advanced Alberta Immigration Program briefly and said it was a good, successful program. A motion was made to approve the RFD that the M.D. of Taber enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Town of Taber for administering and implementing the Advanced Alberta Immigration Program (AAIP) Rural Renewal Stream for businesses located within the M.D of Taber and also approve the associated Development and Planning, Economic Development operating budget amendment with an increase of $9,000 dollars annually and it was carried.
Northern and Regional Economic Development Grant Application
Administration recommended that the M.D. of Taber Municipal District of Taber approve a submission to the Province of Alberta grant funding program Northern and Regional Economic Development (NRED) for an economic development strategy project to a maximum of $200,000 with 50 per cent matching funds associated with approved 2024 economic development operating budgets. Administration stated that with this proposal, they are trying to access additional grant funding and they are up against a deadline of December 20 and the submission is specific to funding Economic Development work in 2024 and there is a list of projects. When Council inquired for details regarding the projects, Administration explained that they are looking at a contract employee to do their Economic Development work in 2024 and part of that agreement would include a bunch of Economic Development foundational work, so the development of a business retention expansion program from a regional basis, among other projects. Administration also clearly emphasized that this is an application and there is there’s no downside; it’s an application to the M.D. and from a matching perspective, Administration would be applying for funds for projects that they have already been planning, so what they have in they budget would be used as matching funds. Ultimately, a motion was made that the the M.D. of Taber Municipal District of Taber approve a submission to the Province of Alberta grant funding program Northern and Regional Economic Development (NRED) for an economic development strategy project to a maximum of $200,000 with 50 per cent matching funds associated with approved 2024 economic development operating budgets. The motion was carried.