Town of Trochu to consult public with regard to Mill Rate & Taxes

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Town to Consult Public with regard to Mill Rate & Taxes

Minutes were passed for the April 23, 2018 regular council meeting and the May 7, 2018 Special Meeting. David Hibbs was on tonight’s May 14 agenda as a delegate, wanting to discuss Kneehill County. Mr. Hibbs asked for confirmation that the County had removed all of its grants. The answer was yes, except for the recreational funds for the pool (that dates back years). A portion of rural taxes helps pay pool expenses, which are around $40,000. Mayor Kletke also advised that an agreement with the County to grade two or three non-paved roads in Trochu has been cancelled. When asked if Trochu was financially sound, Administration advised that it had some surplus funds (about $600,000 in reserves) but it was all ear-marked for projects. Mr. Hibbs was also advised that the Town was going to introduce three different scenarios with regard to taxes. The first scenario would be to not impose an increase in the mill rate, to keep the status quo of last year. The Mayor explained that using, as an example, his own residential Trochu property, his taxes last year were $4187 and with his assessment having gone up this year (but with no change to mill rate) his taxes this year would be $4436. Another scenario would be to drop everything by 20%. The Mayor’s residential taxes would then come in at about $3721 but this would not put or even keep the Town in a good financial position and general reserves would drop to only $270,000. A third scenario would be to show the ratepayers (urban and rural) what the financial position of the Town would be if they were to implement the same mill rate for residential and non-residential as the County employs. The Mayor’s residential tax would fall to $1834 but this would “gobble up” all the reserves and the Town would have to dissolve. Mr. Hibbs said at this point, “I do not want to be owned by the County. I want our Town to continue to govern separate from the County.” Council passed a ‘Public Participation’ Policy, with a date as yet to be scheduled, to educate the public on taxes and mill rates and the financial position of the Town. The Mayor said it would be his suggestion to go forward (at least for one year) with a frozen mill rate but he would like to see the public educated on the discrepancy of the County vs the Town. Administration felt it had come up with policy on Public Participation along with an Advertising bylaw “that would meet the needs of the Council and the community as a whole.”

Director of Operations Report

The lane to the Arboretum was graded and the season start-up maintenance for power equipment was completed and a water meter reinstalled for underground sprinklers.

The opened to the public on Saturday, May 12 with the wading pool to open soon and the splash park to open June 1. School swimming lessons are to begin on Wednesday, May 16. The pool is fully staffed for lifeguards. Regarding the arena, quotes have been received for shower plumbing upgrades, which are timed, push-button showers and a water temperature control valve.

Furniture bins are at the transfer site with three bins filled in the first week. More ‘empty’ bins were delivered. Toxic round-up bins are to be delivered in late May. Compost pick-up began on May 4. The burn pits are also filling up fast. The Tro-Val students tidy-up is to resume on Friday, May 18 (having been postponed due to weather).

A new mower deck for the Kubota was purchased. The 2008 GMC 7500 truck won’t be delivered for a few more weeks due to the installation of the more compatible clutch pump hydraulic system. Repairs were made to the Backhoe and was in the shop for three weeks. A new Skidsteer was delivered. A third-party company was hired to grade gravel roads within the town limits and some potholes were patched. A soft spot located in the middle of the street in front of the Baptist church was dug out and refilled with clay and gravel. Operations has concerns on how many of these soft spots are turning up and have been monitoring them daily to determine the cause, the first idea being a high water table and frozen ground deep down. The Mayor advised, that it was a resident’s suggestion to drill some well holes and relieve the pressure of water build up under the roads where these pot holes are showing. Operations felt that “absolutely, that’s a valid suggestion and should be investigated.” Operations had tested the water and there was no chlorine, indicating that it is not leakage coming from the Town’s water system.

The public works shop has received some remodelling and furniture upgrades (counters, cabinets).

More upgrades were completed on the sewer lift pump station. There had been issues with malfunctioning electrical parts and Operations is hopeful the problems have been eliminated. Various storm sewers have all been steamed, pumped out or unclogged. Trochu staff and more from neighbouring municipalities received some valve operation training the valves were installed at the Huxley water well house. Operations is evaluating a system for potential remote meter reading.

Renovations are ongoing at the new town office. ATCO has replaced/upgraded six (6) 41W LED lights around town and residents and council can compare with the 88W lighting located at Arena Ave and King Street.

Administrator’s Report

Administration discussed with other Administrators three (3) different funding formulas for the disbursement of the funds from Kneehill County. He expects that Trochu would receive a similar amount of funds to what was received prior to the Urban Sustainability Funding grant from Kneehill County (about $40,000). If Councilors are wanting to attend, there is an Inter-municipal Collaboration Framework (ICF) training workshop scheduled for Hanna on June 1. There is a limit of two or three attendees from each community and for Trochu, Carl reserved two extra spots along with his own.

It was noted that Carl Peterson, Administrator had fulfilled his training and is now a ‘Certified Local Government Manager’.

With regard to the lagoon expansion, Carl had not heard back from adjacent landowners regarding whether the Town had met all their concerns. CIMA+ is working on designs to address high water table concerns. A new cost estimate will be completed.

The Tax recovery auction sales are to be advertised locally with an auctioneer confirmed for June 11, 2018. One of those properties has since paid and has now been taken off the list.

Carl has not received any word back on a grant application for the ‘asset management’ system but work is still being correlated on locating all infrastructure and developing spreadsheets that will be used when uploading information to the asset management program.

The community of Elnora has signed the mutual aid agreement for water operator.

The Town was notified it would be receiving adjusted amounts (about half of what it usually receives) toward the Canada Summer Jobs program. He felt it was still quite helpful.

Agreements have been signed between Minor Ball and the Lions regarding the Fairgrounds upkeep.

Tenders for the work required for Ecknefelder Street and Trochu Avenue close on May 15.

Administration, along with Mayor Kletke and Clr. Munro attended a St. Mary’s foundation meeting and the Mayor was able to update them on the reasoning behind forming a Not-for-Profit Corporation to expedite the construction of a Senior’s Housing Facility.

Councilor Reports

Deputy Mayor Reeds announced that MPC (Municipal Planning Commission) approval of a dog grooming business for town. The Mayor asked Administration to prepare some dollar figures for the next meeting regarding dressing room renovations for the arena and costs for paving the road by Trochu Motors. Clr. Cunningham reported on progress with repairing the Trochu fire siren, once used for Canadian Civil Defence. Clr. Cunningham had delved into its history and was hoping it would be ready for the July 1st parade (to be held on July 2 this year). A motion was made to purchase a ‘zero-turn Mower’.