Acme Council hosts annual Public Meeting

Re-Zoning of Four Lots
The Village of Acme held a brief re-zoning meeting before commencing with the annual public meeting at Acme Community Centre on June 19, 2014. The first part of the meeting was to inform the public of intent to re-zone a green space area into much needed residential lots. It was advised by previous councillors present at the meeting, that a number of years ago that specific four-lot green space/tire park was a temporary situation, until such time in the future that the Village needed the lots. The idea of losing a play park, even if it was empty, created some public outcry and a petition. The aged-out swings were removed long ago and never replaced, as were the tires. "What we need is more revenue, which comes from selling the lots and receiving the taxes that residential lots can generate," explained Mayor McLeod. "If we are able to sell the lots at $40,000 each that is $160,000 plus the taxes on each home could be roughly $3000 each, which is another $12,000 per year in revenue." It was further noted that the area would be consistent with R1 (single family dwelling) and spot zoning for R2 (town houses) would not be consistent.
A few residents were not impressed to be losing the only park in the area of Prospect Avenue, no matter that there were already six play parks for such a small population. They were further distressed by fundraising efforts to build a play park in the campground, though the campground, it was explained, does generate revenue for the Village. Council was asked the approximate cost to build another new playground and the Mayor felt that with gravel, extra amount of fill and rubber that was needed just to prepare, it could range from $50,000 to $120,000. It was noted that any future lots in Heritage Estate would require infrastructure to the tune of approximately $2.7 million, where as the four lots inside the Village are already serviceable and were given a green light by engineers for a sewer line in the back of the lots.
It was a tangled mess of comments ranging from "once you lose a green space, you can't ever get it back" and "families will only come if green space is provided", and that "why not utilize the homes that are already abandoned and for sale in town, and buy the property with vacant trailers on it." Some residents congratulated Council. "The number one complaint in town is taxes and this is a prime opportunity to get tax revenue. Hats off to Council." Some others were angry about the loss of money spent on the recent lawsuit while others were angry that they were misled by information given as fact on a recent petition against the re-zoning. "Revenue will bring change to our Town," said one resident. "Property tax is high here as you all know," commented a visiting real estate agent, "You need to work on that any way you can."
Annual Public Meeting
The Public Meeting was less eventful with an auditor's report, 2014 budget, skate shack - boards/walkways, future projects and question period. Budgeted total tax revenue for 2014 is $919,515.67, which is an increase of $23,916.75 from 2013 budget. Total revenue dollars from all sources including grants is $1,493,649.11. The Village Council has approved a 4% increase for taxation to residents, noting that residents should see minimal changes in their municipal taxes, either down or up slightly based on assessed value of property, along with the difference in the school tax assessments (lower this year). One of the highlights was Council's effort to lower its long term debt, which was down to $465,103 in 2013 from 2012's $629,179. Investment income was up to $3,022 in 2013 while in 2012 it was $73. This also affected interest on long term debt, at $17,137 in 2012, $13,299 in 2013 and budgeted for 2014 at $7,050. The auditor explained that Acme is in a very healthy 'debt' position. "Taking into account all their financials, they would be allowed to borrow over $1.6 million, so they do not have a lot of debt and even what they have is being paid off fast."
Water usage in the Village of Acme has been reduced, attributed to conservation by residents and the ongoing programs to repair the Village water infrastructure. In 2013 the Village was billed $240,680 for water usage (a reduction of $15,755). Stated the Mayor, "On the down side, communities are only using one third of what was promised by contract to the Town of Drumheller. This is creating some water rate increases with more expected in the future unless the Commission can strike a better deal."
Projects for 2013 that were completed were sidewalks, street paving and patching, and skate shack (waiting on tendering process to replace the boards and fencing, with finances in place and a completion date by fall 2014). A new pump for the pump house was completed. New office and sewer system for the transfer site are completed. There was general maintenance completed (fire hall, office windows/doors, etc). The theme of 2014 is frugality. The village will continue to repair and monitor water infrastructure, while dust, mosquitoes and weed control program is ongoing. Council will investigate short and long term projects, where funding can be obtained, without putting further burden on the taxpayers. The transfer bin will be replaced and upgraded. Water meter changes to remote meters (with grants) is ongoing. Kneehill County has introduced new grants to help with infrastructure projects (and these grants $80,000 approximately, can be held for five years, for application of major infrastructure projects). Council is wanting to review its Land-use bylaw in 2014 and will need a couple of residents 'at large' to sit on that committee. No major changes are expected. The position of Administrator is looking to be filled and Council is exploring a number of options. Council has gone through the application process twice already. The recent census showed 644 (down from last year's population of 656.
It was noted that there are 22 vacant houses, with three that cannot be lived in, some rented out, and 19 up for sale.