The city’s fear that Sturgeon County would not renew its sponsorship of Servus Credit Union Place has come to fruition as a majority of county council voted against funding the facility any longer.
Council defeated a motion brought forward yesterday by Coun. Tom Flynn calling on the county to sponsor Servus Place for five more years. The exact dollar figure was not available but Sturgeon’s original sponsorship was a five-year agreement worth $100,000 per year. That deal expires at the end of December.
A number of our residents, especially in [Sturgeon] Valley, are users of the facility and I felt it was reasonable we do support it, Flynn said shortly after the vote. It was defeated 5-1, with Flynn the only councillor in support. Coun Don McGeachy was absent from the meeting.
Mayor Don Rigney, who has opposed the sponsorship deal since he was a councillor, framed the decision as a budget one, with the county faced with a 14.5-per-cent property tax increase just to maintain the status quo.
“Until we can grow our assessment, to go out and ask for a huge tax hike to fund Servus Place is a real tough sell,” Rigney said.
When asked last week about the sponsorship, Rigney stated he believed council would not vote in favour of a renewed deal. That was before Sturgeon started debating its own budget.
Mayor Nolan Crouse described the county’s decision as disappointing, saying Sturgeon was proving again that it had little interest in working with St. Albert on anything.
“In the last couple of years we’ve supported Quail Ridge, not financially but politically, and Northern Lights and we’ve supported 127 Street. In all those we extended our hand of support to the county when they’ve asked,” Crouse said. “So we’ve extended our hand on the things that are important to them. This is one we asked that was important to us.”
The Servus Place budget does contemplate Sturgeon County renewing its sponsorship. Crouse said council, sitting as committee of the whole, removed those funds from the budget Monday night during budget deliberations.
“They are obviously making every move possible to keep from working together with us on things,” Crouse said.
Crouse implied the decision could have repercussions for the county further down the road.
“They’ve asked us to provide some support on servicing into the county some day,” said Crouse, recalling the matter was scheduled for discussion at the last joint council meeting and, though the city was prepared, county staff had not completed their work.