By Justin Seward
Cypress County faced what could have been a detrimental situation last summer.
It was back in July that the province announced they were potentially going to change the linear assessment to help struggling oil and gas companies.
For many rural municipalities- including Cypress County- linear assessments make up a significant amount of property tax revenue from oil and gas companies.
In the proposed assessment changes, the decrease was anywhere from six percent to 20 per cent in the worst-case scenario.
Cypress County stood to lose $7.8 million in revenue in the first year, an increase of residential taxes from 132 to 181 per cent, a hike in non-residential taxes from 40-64 per cent and a farmland tax increase of 1,550 per cent.
“I’d like to put a thanks to our residents for voicing their concerns on that through our MLAs because that really helped us get our voice heard and got the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Tracy Allard) to take heat and input a stop to that and re-evaluate it ,”said Reeve Dan Hamilton.
Hamilton felt a sense of disappointment in 2020 with the HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) review for HALO Air Rescue in hopes of landing more secure provincial funding for the medievac service.
“I’ve been asking (Health Minister Tyler) Shandro for a copy of that for two months now and I still haven’t received it,” said Hamilton.
“I have received an email from him saying that they weren’t happy with the first review. So, they’re going ahead and doing the second one- again without seeing the first one. It’s frustrating to just keep HALO in the sky, when it’s something that’s really needed. I don’t know why it’s being overlooked as bad as it is- it’s frustrating.”
Hamilton was told the second HEMS review was going to be completed in early 2021.
“It’s been a hard year for all and even worse for some,” said Hamilton.
“… And hopefully everybody is going to have a much better New Year.”
Hamilton is looking forward to the reopening of the Walsh Visitors Centre, the paving of Township Road 120 and intersection treatments, Range Road 11 updates for the gas industry near Burstall, the completion of a new Irvine lift station and the progression towards a potential new Irvine library in 2021.
“I think the county is in a good position for 2021,” said Hamilton. “We’ve got those projects coming up that we were able to secure grants for and get financing for, so it should be a pretty positive year.”