Savage stays as reeve

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Don Savage remains reeve for Westlock County.

Unopposed at the county’s Oct. 25 organization meeting, Savage will be joined by Ray Marquette as deputy reeve.

“It’s an honour, it’s great,” said Savage. “I’m looking forward to a productive year, provide intelligent and honest leadership to our council.”

With one year left to go until the municipal election, Savage is inheriting a bit of a bucking bronco — over the past few years the county has seen a considerable amount of staff turnover, going through six chief administrative officers, five public works bosses and four chief financial officers.

He will oversee the county as it navigates its way through a revised Municipal Government Act, which will require greater collaboration between the county, the Town of Westlock and the Village of Clyde.

Another issue Savage is up against is the difficulty the county is having maintaining revenue amid a sputtering economy, aging infrastructure and a lower dollar.

“One of the key challenges we’re facing is funding,” explained CAO Leo Ludwig.

“The level of work hasn’t diminished, the cost of the work hasn’t diminished, but the funding sources for that work have certainly diminished. We lost the bridge funding about three years ago; that’s had a significant impact on our community. Our linear and machinery equipment assessment have decreased significantly over the last few years, and we’re looking another 10 to 15 per cent decrease for 2017.

“Those are huge challenges to try and do the same amount of work with a lot less funding.

“A lot of wells have been shut in, so we’re not getting taxes from those anymore. As a municipality we have limited sources of revenue. Taxes and grants are pretty much it.”

Savage said he is ready for the coming challenges.

“We’re going to rally forward,” said Savage, adding that he expects his focus to be bringing the county into the upcoming regional collaboration agreement in stride.

“I think the effort to collaborate with the town is front and centre for all councillors.”

He noted that while he is focused on the next six months, so far he loves the job and would be quite happy to stay on past the 2017 elections.

“I intend to run again, I enjoy what I do. I am retired, and I have the spare time to put into the job.”

Municipal elections are scheduled for Oct. 16, 2017.

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