Kneehill County passes 2018 Operating Budget; No Municipal Tax Rate Increase

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Kneehill County to evaluate special water tax for Hamlets

To apply the special benefiting tax levy Bylaw 1764 of $562.96 per year for 15 years on the Water Service Areas, Council has to pass it each year as new roll numbers are applied. The Hamlets have historically not been charged this special benefitting Water Service Tax and Clr. Keiver asked why. “Hamlets are benefitting anyway so why not tax them as well?” It was briefly explained that the intent at the time was to bring water to the rural residents. Deputy Reeve King felt Clr. Keiver had a good point. The Hamlet residents do pay the same water rate for usage. Reeve Wittstock felt it was a discussion for a different day and a motion was passed to direct Administration to discuss at a Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting, the potential to implement a water tax on hamlets in the 2019 budget.

This day Gamble Water Service Area Bylaw amendment 1761 (replacing Schedule B of Bylaw 1681) was passed. The Sunnyslope Water Service Area amendment Bylaw 1760 was approved. The Linden Water Service Area Bylaw Amendment 1758 was removed from the agenda at this time for technical amendments to come back at Council’s next meeting. The Selkirk Water Service Area Bylaw Amendment 1759 was approved to replace Schedule B of Bylaw 1682; and repeal 2017 Bylaw 1739.

The revenue from this tax in 2017 was $1,094,728.94 while in 2018, revenues will be $1,078,042.17 (to be transferred to Water Service Area Reserve). “This represents a total decrease of $16,687 from 2017,” stated Mike Morton, Director of Corporate Services.

Over the years, the parcels utilizing the Equity, Mt. Vernon and Churchill lines have been added to this tax. As new subdivisions or developments access the water service, they are included in this special benefitting tax levy. The tax will assist in funding the new Churchill water project recently approved. In 2016 the debenture was paid in full but Council’s motion of 2017 was to continue the tax to pay back reserves and operating funds as well as for future replacements/maintenance.

Trochu Recreation Area Special Tax Bylaw 1763

Each year, the County approves a levy to be charged against certain properties as a recreation tax, which is collected and forwarded to the Town of Trochu as a payment to fund 50% of their costs to operate the Trochu pool facility. This Bylaw was approved after a vote of the people, dating back to April 14, 1972. Only a vote of the people could repeal this annual tax. No other municipality within the County has a Recreation Area Tax. The 2017 payment to the Town of Trochu was $51,421, with the current balance in the trust account of $6,480. The funds from the 2018 assessment totals $44,430.93.

2018 Tax Rate Bylaw Passed

The Municipal Tax Rates are to remain the same as 2017. “Tax rates,” explained Mr. Morton “are imposed to ensure the budget is balanced.” The province sets the requisitions for the Alberta School Foundation Fund (AASF) and this year there is a decrease due to the decrease in equalized assessment (3-year average). The decrease from 2017 is a total of $471,728. The total requisition is $5,385,545. “This is the first year we begin with an additional provincial requisition for the Designated Industrial Properties (DIP).” The Kneehill Housing Corporation requisition is for a total of $50,000 from all municipalities in the County, with the County’s portion at $38,945 (down from $39,802 in 2017).

2018 Operating Budget Passed - No Municipal Tax Rate Increase

The 2018 unallocated net revenue in the amount of $392,518.37 was transferred to Hamlet Infrastructure Reserve. Council had also approved three major projects: Wimborne Environmental Reclamation ($1,200,000), Torrington Arena Capital Project ($500,000), and Churchill Water System Rehabilitation ($4,634,048). There was the cancellation of the Urban Sustainability Grant of $980,012.86 and instead to reinstate the Urban Rec Funding Policy in the amount of $250,000. In order to generate the necessary operating funds to pay for approved projects, Council at an April 17, 2018 COW meeting asked for tax rate increases of Residential Rate increase by .00025 mill (now .003053766), Farmland Rate increased by .00100 (now .00784000), and non residential rate increased by .00050 (now .01451800). However, at a special council meeting held on May 3, 2018 council reconsidered the recommendation and passed a motion “To direct administration to bring to the May 8 Council meeting a balanced budget with no tax increase.”

The 2018 Public Auction of Tax Forfeiture properties was approved for Thursday, October 11, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. at the Kneehill County Administration building, in the event an auction is required.

Churchill Water Project Public Engagement

A motion was passed to have Administration bring back a conceptual plan (for the September ‘committee of the whole’ meeting, to decide what public participation would look like for the Churchill Water Service Area Project.

Application For Road Closure

In 1996 the closed road allowance was sold to the adjacent landowner (SE 30-33-26 W4) with the intent to consolidate but this was not completed as two small portions were not included in the road closure. A new road closure Bylaw was approved today by Council.

Delegations

Seniors Outreach Board members presented Council with updates in their search for a new office location (Provincial Building or Drop In Centre), as well as providing some history, volunteers (over 9000 hours), grants, and financials.

Village of Carbon Mayor Gus Nash, and Clrs. Kelly Garrett and Brian Peever were presented with a $200,000 cheque from Kneehill County Reeve Jerry Wittstock and Clr. Faye McGhee to help with flood mitigation.

Debra Grosfield, Manager of Protective Services, Communications made a presentation of an Emergency Management Overview, in part to orient new Councilors. The 2017 Year in Review listed train derailments (2 in 2017, 5 in last 2 years), tornado, fires, and floods (but not of this year’s calibre). Council accepted the Emergency Management Summary presentation as information.

Barb Hazelton, Manager of Planning & Development, presented Council with an overview of Cannabis Legalization and requirements that Council will need to consider. There are approximately 80 licensed producers across Canada, with five in Alberta. Council moved to schedule a discussion of cannabis at the May 15 Committee of the Whole.

Procedural Bylaw 1768 received amendments as per the new MGA. One of these is that the Committee of the Whole is classified under the MGA as a Council Committee and must be conducted in public. The newly drafted Bylaw 1768 was passed.

Council also approved its updated Strategic Planning Session (priorities and operational strategies) as presented.

Council granted the request of Rehoboth Christian Ministries to waive the Keivers Lake Day Use Area fees for four days during the week this summer. This amounts to $200.