Town of Sexsmith Mayor Kate Potter says she thinks it was obvious the provincial budget released earlier this week was an election season budget. However Potter says the predicted $2.4 billion surplus is a possible benefit for the region and other municipalities when its comes to the Municipal Sustainability Initiative.
“We are seeing an increase again this year to the levels they promised they would bring with the new funding formula that they are anticipating to roll out in 2024,” Potter says.
Potter adds overall for the region there were a lot of positives to come out of the spring budget. The biggest questions she thinks though come around the practical steps being taken around issues like staffing and worker shortages, rather than just throwing money at the problem.
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“That is cross industry it doesn’t matter what industry it is here, whether it is health care, forestry, oil and gas, professional workers, all of those areas are really desperate for people,” Potter says. “That is not something we are only facing in Alberta, but across the country and across North America. So it is not just a matter of throwing money at it, but rather there needs to be something behind it.”
The Sexsmith mayor adds she hopeful there is more behind the plan the province has not shared yet. Some areas Potter was hoping to see addressed in the spring budget was funding for mental health and more reinvestment for infrastructure.
“Municipalities own 60 per cent of our infrastructure in the province, and we have been asking for funding increases but our funding has dropped in the last 11 years, almost 60 per cent. So there is a bit of a concern that way that there hasn’t been reinvestment in that infrastructure and we are going to see more and more crumbling of that. This will then end up back in the provinces lap as municipalities are no longer sustainable they have too much of a deficit.”
Looking forward to election season, Potter says she is is hopeful to see strides towards reinvestment with who ever ends up in the government.