South Peace News
Mill rates decrease across-the-board
The Town of McLennan has decreased its mill rates for the 2021 tax year.
Council passed its mill rate bylaw at its May 10 meeting, which sees a small decrease in both the residential and commercial rates.
It does not mean tax rates will decrease. Coupled with property assessment, rates will either increase or decrease accordingly.
The residential rate decreased to 16.45 mills from 16.98 mills while the commercial rate decreased to 26.50 mills from 27.00 mills.
The Town of McLennan’s total operating expenses are $1,744,007 of which $782,533 needs to be raised from local property taxes.
Council did make one change from 2020, however. In the past, council used to have a $500 minimum tax for vacant parcels and $1,000 for any properties with any type of improvement. Municipal Affairs advised the Town they can only have one tax rate, so council set a minimum tax of $750 this year on all land parcels.
Public Works Week declaration
Council decided May 10 to declare May 16-22 as National Public Works Week.
The declaration gives council a chance to thank its public works employees for a job well done but what to do was another matter.
Council decided to buy a pizza lunch for staff as a token of appreciation.
“Stronger Together” is the theme of 2021 National Public Works Week, which is designed to give citizens a chance to think about the role public works plays in creating better communities by providing services such as roads, water and sewer, and natural gas. Services offered vary by community.
Hemp grant application supported
Council agreed to support Smoky River Regional Economic Development in its application for a grant to support the ongoing hemp project.
“It’s a grant for French speaking people. . .the majority of people at a business,” said Mayor Michele Fournier.
The Pan-West Francophone Economic Development Fund program is intended for organizations that operate in French and that contribute to development, enhancement of Francophone service delivery in Western Canada.
Projects eligible for funding are intended to serve Francophone clientele in the official language minority communities of Western Canada such as Falher.
The deadline to apply was May 31 for the November 2021 to May 31, 2022 period.
New day for garbage pickup
With a change in service provider in the works, Town of McLennan residents will have to adjust their schedules for garbage pickup.
Starting June 3, garbage pickup will be on Thursday from the usual Friday.
The change resulted when the Smoky River Waste Commission changed its service provider. Meston Group from Peace River will be the company collecting residential waste.
CAO Lorraine Willier also advised council she is preparing a bylaw for the next meeting. Currently, there is nothing in the Town bylaws ordering residents to remove bins off the streets.
Willier is proposing that residents remove the bins by midnight the next day or face a penalty, subject to council’s approval.
Council happy with “some” progress
The Town of McLennan and its partners continue to work on hammering out a new Fire Protection Services Agreement.
“I’m quite happy we’ve made some positive movement,” said Councillor Sue Delaurier.
However, Councillor Dwayne Stout expressed concerns:
- Why only a three-year agreement instead of five? He heard the M.D. of Smoky River would not budge on that proposal.
- Stout insisted on a 70-30 split with the M.D. paying 70 per cent and all other partners 30 per cent. The M.D. wants to pay less than the 70 per cent. Councillor Luc Dubrule wanted the M.D. to pay 75 per cent.
- Council also wants the cost of living allowance removed from the agreement.
Council heard the agreement was extended to cover 2021 while negotiations continue. The proposed three-year agreement covers 2022-24.
Council’s concerns will be forward to the M.D.
Munisight a wise investment
It will cost council $5,757 a year to purchase Munisight software.
However, council and administration agree it’s money well spent.
Munisight is a software that allows administration to centralize its data rather than having it stored in different places. The Town has already uploaded most of its c.c. valves, catch basins, storm drainages, etc., and can also upload letters, work orders, etc. and attach them to a specific property. The software saves administration a lot of time researching when the need arises.
Council did budget only $3,000 for the software but decided to buy anyway. Councillor Terry Calliou called it “a good investment” rather than expense.
More LED lights in town
Council is proceeding with the installation of LED lights at the entrance signs and sliding hill.
“The LED lights have been ordered and will be installed this summer,” says CAO Lorraine Willier.
Cost of the lights is $1,095 not including the pole.
The upgrade was suggested by a resident.
Monthly electrical cost is estimated at $30.
Council supports RCMP
A request to support the RCMP and not a provincial police force was endorsed by council at its May 12 meeting.
The County of St. Paul mailed numerous municipal governments in Alberta with the request.
“. . .in expressing our disappointment with the Government of Alberta’s own unwillingness to accept the results of its own review process and that it seems to be continuing on the path of replacing the RCMP with an Alberta Provincial Police Service,” writes Reeve Steve Upham.
“It’s nice to see other towns thinking like us,” said Councillor Sue Delaurier.
“Once the dust settles it will be interesting,” noted Councillor Terry Calliou.
Others see it as a waste of money.
“They have to buy all new cars,” said Councillor Eckhard Christen, adding other infrastructure as well.
“It’s just crazy,” added Delaurier. “I don’t see the problem.”