A Sturgeon County councillor says he’ll bring in zero-based budgeting if he’s re-elected.
County Coun. David Kluthe announced last week that he would seek re-election this fall as the county’s representative for Division 4 (which includes Riviere Qui Barre, Alcolmdale and Alexander). He was first elected in 2010.
“It does take time to establish yourself as a politician,” he said, and this first term has helped him get his feet wet. “I’ve got that done, and I think I can actually get something done this time that will justify people voting for me again.”
While he himself had just over two years in office, Kluthe said his family was no stranger to politics, with his father, Lawrence Kluthe, having served many years as the county’s reeve and mayor. “I feel that I know the area and what people are expecting.”
Kluthe, a 51-year-old married farmer, said he decided to run again because he had a beef with the way council was running the county. “Administration is more in charge than council is lately,” he said, with councillors simply rubber-stamping budgets presented by their staff.
His main goal, if re-elected, would be to bring in zero-based budgeting – a planning process where departments must justify every spending item every year, instead of just new ones, at budget time.
Right now, he said, council always seems to start at a 14-per-cent tax hike and congratulates itself when it whittles it down. “It’s still a tax increase every year.” Many residents, himself included, feel their rising tax bills are not getting them better services.
Zero-based budgeting would ensure that the county’s money, especially upcoming cash from the North West Upgrader, was spent wisely, he said. He also wanted more transparency on how senior administrators were spending their money. “Let’s see where the money is going.”
The county was under great financial pressure, he acknowledged, and needed to grow its tax base. “North West (Upgrader) is just the first step.” The county needed to get more servicing to its industrial parks so new companies would have a place to set up shop.
While he said he would love to see the Capital Region Board “disappear,” Kluthe also said that the county had to work more closely with St. Albert and Edmonton to get its Villeneuve area structure plan approved. “We need to get together and sit down with these guys.”
Taxes, services, and road maintenance would be hot topics during the election, he predicted.
The Gazette will profile other candidates as they come forward.