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Reeve sees opportunities, challenges in 2020

Rural crime, taxes, communication noted as issues, focus

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY – Mountain View County reeve Bruce Beattie says there are a number of challenges and opportunities facing the municipality in the new year.

For one thing, the county hopes to continue to work with stakeholders, including RCMP, to address rural crime in the region in 2020, he said.

“The whole issue of rural crime continues to be a problem, and I mean in both the county and in the urban centres like Olds, Didsbury, Carstairs and Sundre,” Beattie said in a year-end interview.

As far as taxes, 2020 may be a time of some uncertainty, he said. Tax

“That is going to be a challenge for us,” he said. “We are going to see a reduction in our revenues and there is only one taxpayer so we are going to try to maintain the best services we can and not have significant increases in the tax load.

“There is a lot of uncertainty around linear (taxation of machinery and infrastructure) which provides a substantial portion of our revenue. We don’t know what the adjusting factors are going to be since they haven’t been announced yet.

“We have built reserves and have a long-term plan in place. There is a certain amount of uncertainty right now. We are hoping we can stay in the one or two per cent increase ballpark in 2020.”

The county plans to improve communication with ratepayers in 2020, he said.

“We are looking for better ways to communicate with our residents,” he said. “How can we get our message out better and more importantly how can we get the message back from our constituents.

“So council is looking at an app to develop to provide opportunities for our constituents to give feedback to the county. That is something we are looking at for 2020.”

The review of the municipal development plan (MDP) started in 2019 will be one of the projects continuing into 2020, he said.

 “We want to get good public input into what we are doing and the direction we are trying to propose in terms of changes to the plan,” he said.

The MDP is used to guide land use in the municipality.

The county will also be dealing with the new provincial policing funding model in 2020, he said.

“They (MLAs) have given us some opportunities to phase some of these changes in,” he said. “We requested that, particularly with the policing model which they have done over the next three years. They have given us some advanced warning on what those will look like.

“It will be our job to work closely with the province to see how we can make the best use of those funds.”

Another issue facing the county and surrounding urban centres in 2020 will involve funding for physicians, he said.