The Canadian Federation of Independent Business ranked the Town of Nobleford as Alberta’s most fiscally sustainable municipality for 2018.
“Fiscally sustainable' means being able to continue spending levels over a period of time without harm,” Kirk Hofman, the Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of Nobleford, said.
According to the rankings, Nobleford, Okotoks, and the municipality of Cochrane were the three best overall performing municipalities, each community decreasing their real per capita spending by more than 10 per cent from 2006 to 2016.
“The ranking established confidence in Nobleford from the general public,” Hofman said. “Nobleford is one of the fastest growing municipalities in Alberta. People move to and stay in Noblefordfor good reason. A significant majority of people like what Nobleford is.”
On the other hand, the report pegs Turner Valley, the Municipal District of Opportunity, and the Municipal District of Saddle Hills County as being the worst three performing municipalities in terms of spending sustainability, each with real per capita spending growth of more than 80 per cent over the 2006 to 2016 period.
“CFIB reports that most of Alberta Municipalities are not fiscally sustainable; their spending habits are getting worse,” Hofman said. “182 municipalities with Population over 1000 were evaluated and only a few Municipalities actually decreased their real per capita spending. average, Alberta municipalities exceeded a sustainable growth benchmark of inflation.”
Hofman says that the CFIB’s report analyzes the operating spending of 182 municipalities across Alberta from 2006 to 2016. Alberta’s largest municipalities, those with populations of 1,000 or more are ranked. Additionally, Hofman says, all of Alberta’s 182 municipal governments are organized according to municipal spending and revenue.
“The CFIB report awarding Nobleford first place and most sustainable is confirmation we are on the right track, and have done a good job,” Hofman said. “There have always been pessimists and criticism questioning if Nobleford is able to sustain is quality high standards of the past 10 years. We can if we want to!”
Hofman says that back in 2000, Nobleford Council recognized that the future of Nobleford was bleak with a population of 600 in decline, a closure of the school looming, job opportunities were evaporating, millions of dollars infrastructure was needed, and Nobleford taxes were some of the highest in Alberta, more than Lethbridge.
In 2004/2005, Hofman says that Nobleford Council chose to take control of its future and began to diligently peruse not only sustainability but prosperity.
“In order the make the change, Council and Administration created a VISION, added SKILLS focusing on measurable results, INCENTIVES were put in place to engage and motivate our Staff and community, RESOURCES were evaluated and developed, this all formulated the ACTION PLAN,” Hofman said. “That plan focused on 4 fundamental Objectives related to WATER- AFFORDABLE – GROWTH -ACCOUNTABLE.”
The result of the Council’s work, Hofman says, has resulted in Nobleford becoming fiscally prosperous and sustainable. As of 2019, the population is estimated to be 1500 with 50% of those under the age of 30 years, an all-grades school that received a $8 million modernization that is full, and near 300 available jobs. The town also has a very high asset value of $120,000 per person along with modern infrastructure.
In addition to the being ranked first by CFIB in 2018, Hofman says that Nobleford was also ranked # 2 in the 2014 report and is also recognized by Alberta Municipal affair Financial indicators as one of the healthiest Municipalities in Alberta every year since 2011.
“According to CFIB we are now at the top,” Hofman said. “It is always difficult to be at the TOP, as the odds are not in your favor to sustain that position. Nobleford will be watched and encouraged by most, but not all. Finding joy in the success of others can sometimes be challenging to people in less fortunate situations.”
Hofman hopes that other municipalities follow the recommendations of CFIB, which are: spend less, review core services, contract services to the private sector, where cost efficient; Implement a sustainable wage policy for public sector wage, compensation, and hiring; and put in place appropriate contingency funds in case of natural disasters.
“As Chief Administrative Officer of Nobleford, I am fortunate to have worked with some very wise accountable people in helping create effective results,” Hofman said. “ We all do what is good for Nobleford without exploiting the tax payer. Nobleford’s objectives of sustainability are not unique, everyone wants sustainability. Nobleford is unique because of its diligence year after year, day after day, hour after hour; it may look easy, but it is hard work.”