While 2016 will go down for many people as a year not to remember, the same can't be said for Kneehill County.
The municipality north and west of Drumheller achieved a number of goals during the year, including the opening of a new office, purchasing the land overlooking Horseshoe Canyon and paying off all its debts.
"We knew that our revenues were decreasing (and) the oil activity within the county was going down," allowed Kneehill Reeve Bob Long. "We just wanted to make sure that we were in a solid financial position going forward."
The county used a nearly $3 million surplus from 2015 to pay off a debenture on the Aqua 7 water line two years early.
"We had a debenture that we were paying $1.6 million a year on, so we freed up $1.6 million of actual payment on that debt," noted Long. "It had a real big impact on our bottom line, particularly when you looked at reduced revenues."
The Water Service Area (WSA) Tax will continue to be collected as per county bylaw, as Long notes that's how they grow the WSA reserve to pay for future work on the water distribution system.
"We're cost recovery on the sale of the water; there's still a major investment when we did the regional water line," explained the reeve. "We do have some way of creating some funding for the replacement of those things through a water service tax and that."
The result was that rate payers in Kneehill will not be hit with an increase in the mill rate for 2017. However, Long notes the county will have to look for more savings and put more money away in coming years to pay for the repair and replacement of as many as 19 bridges.