By: Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review
Two village councils held special council meetings at the end of April to examine and approve their audited financial statements.
The ECA Review contacted both the Village of Alix and Village of Morrin to discuss their special meetings.
Contacted by phone May 2, Village of Alix Mayor Rob Fehr noted a special council meeting was held in the village office April 27 to discuss the 2021 audited financial statements, which was presented by auditor Gitzel and Co.
Fehr noted councillors unanimously approved the audited financial statements after the presentation. “They said it was a clean audit,” said the mayor.
Fehr added that the Village of Alix was also “…fortunate enough to have a surplus year.”
Contacted by phone May 2, Village of Morrin Chief Administrative officer (CAO) Annette Plachner noted the municipality held a special council meeting in the village office April 27 to review the 2021 audited financial statements. The village’s official auditor is Ascend accountants of Hanna.
Plachner had noted at a previous regular council meeting the financial statements had been delivered a bit later than expected, and she noted it seemed the auditors were experiencing very heavy workload this spring.
Plachner stated councillors unanimously approved the audited financial statements and there were no serious issues.
“It was a good audit,” said Plachner.
Alix’ mayor noted the village on the lake enjoyed a surplus year because of property and equipment sales, with one of the properties sold being the old fire hall.
He said councillors agreed the surplus will be placed in reserve to help pay for future capital projects such as sewer upgrades.
Fehr also pointed out Alix councillors aimed at a surplus year by planning ahead, including decisions made in their 2018 strategic plan.
He stated the council and staff worked to try to do more “in-house” which saved about $200,000, identified surplus property the village could sell and re-accessed staff and services in the village, including eliminating the municipal recreation department, which also saved about $200,000.
The mayor noted all that money will go toward important village infrastructure.
Fehr stated that in 2021 Alix spent about $900,000 on capital projects and has spent about $4 million on capital projects over the last five years.
He noted Alix council has not increased the municipal tax rate since 2017, something he’s quite proud of. Fehr stated that according to his research Alix is one of a few communities in Alberta that can say that and feels the village compares well to other communities its size.
He noted however, that the village, like all Alberta communities, still faces challenges, including securing funding from the Alberta government.
He pointed out it does appear there is more provincial offloading than ever before which is concerning for a village the size of Alix, but the provincial government is also promoting the uptick in job creation.
Talk surrounding things like hydrogen projects is also encouraging, he noted, but pointed out those projects can also affect the bottom line.
Looking ahead to 2022 Mayor Fehr stated the village’s emphasis will be on sewer upgrades, especially the municipal lagoon.
He stated the village continues working with engineers to develop a plan to upgrade Alix’ lagoon.
The mayor noted he’s fairly confident Alix will secure provincial funding to help upgrade the lagoon and believes the lagoon project will be completed in 2022.
Mayor Fehr stated he was very impressed the way local community groups stepped up to take over former village recreation programs and added that the surplus budget was the result of council, staff and the community working together to get where they are now.