Alix, Lacombe County enter ICF agreement

The village of Alix has officially entered into an Intermunicipal Collaborative Framework (ICF) agreement with Lacombe County.

The provincial Municipal Government Act (MGA), the Act that governs all municipalities, was recently updated, requiring all municipalities to enter into an ICF with their neighbouring populations to ensure the efficiency of services between them.

Lacombe County had already signed to enter into the agreement so Alix followed suit on Wed. Oct. 16 by adopting the ICF agreement at their regular meeting.

By 2020, both administrations hope to update existing bylaws and policies to reflect this new agreement and by 2021, they will develop an Alix First Response Unit Joint Operational Agreement.

No public feedback was received in regards to the ICF.

Draft operating budget highlights

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White gave a detailed report of the highlights of the draft 2020 operating budget for the village.

No changes have been made to the current mill rate but the only projected change will be coming from residential taxes.

She suspects a three per cent decrease in revenue from this area as home sale trends continue to spiral downward.

Homes have been selling but at a reduced price indicating lower assessment rates.

CAO White says approximately 22 houses have been sold within the last year.

There have been no changes in industrial or commercial income.

“Those have been holding very strong for us and we’ve had a little bit of growth in there so it is being left the same for this projection,” said CAO White.

Councillors were asked which three councillors would be attending the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) conference in Calgary next year.

It is well known to cover hot button issues, education sessions, increased networking and lobbying efforts to the provincial government and is the highlight of the year for many municipalities.

Costs to attend are in the range of $1,200 to $1,500 per person.

Coun. Vicki Soltermann felt her attendance wasn’t necessary.

“Personally I don’t see how it helps the village and even the previous council never paid that much,” said Soltermann.

“I just feel like for little old ladies who are having a hard time paying their taxes – I have a hard time with this. I really do.”

Coun. Ed Cole has found benefit to the conference in the past and made mention that he would like to attend again.

CAO White added, “One thing that I would add to that is when Municipal Affairs did the changes to the new Municipal Government Act they put such an emphasis on councillor training.

“They formally recognized the AUMA conference as one method of continuing education for councillors.”

Mayor Fehr, Dep. Mayor Tim Besuijen and Coun. Ed Cole will most likely be attending and will bring back reports from their time at the conference to ensure residents their tax dollars are being well spent.

Wages for the basic cost of living adjustments have increased 2.2 per cent.

Coun. Soltermann noticed she has never seen a salary grid to confirm and review numbers.

“If we were a larger industry and had 30 employees, it would be different. With the salary grid based on the positions that we have, it would be very easy to determine who exactly makes what,” explained CAO White.

“As councillors we should at least be able to know that,” said Soltermann.

“This will give us somewhere to start.”

Council will have a closed session meeting to go further in detail on the matter as it falls under the MGA.

The Alix Fire Department has requested a window and fan modifications in the top of their building to create air flow as it can get rather hot during training or meetings.

Lacombe County Fire Chief Drayton Bussiere confirmed the county did not approve the window in their 2019 budget as they were in ICF negotiations and were not sure of what the fire agreement outcome would be.

“So they really skinnied down on any future projects or anything like that so that the negotiations wouldn’t be impeded by anything extra,” said CAO White.

Council and administration agreed to put it into the 2020 budget although the county recommended the fire department use the current air conditioning provided.

“That’s not accurate. They’ve done different things to try and accommodate that and it keeps coming back. I’m sure they know how to operate the AC if they can drive a fire truck,” said Rob Fehr.

CAO White added, “They had an engineer brought in who determined installing windows on both sides of the building wouldn’t have the desired effect so he would need to redo the fan system in order to make the windows effective which put the project from about $1,700 to over $8,000.”

As part of getting caught up on infrastructure, public works brought up street sign replacement as many are faded from time outside.

A local business was able to find a reflective tape that can be used for the signs for approximately $50, $15 less than buying new.

Public Works found another leak on Oct. 15 at a vacant place. It was reported the frost plate cracked and has since been consistently leaking in the basement since about June.

Administration is always pleased to find these leaks as they can now nip the problem right away and continue to decrease water bills.

“We are very very happy every time we find a leak,” said the CAO.

The draft capital budget will be seen at the next meeting on Wed. Nov. 6.

“It is a very hefty capital budget and we will need all of the funds that are projected as surplus to help finance those projects,” said CAO White.

FCSS 2020 Budget

At a previous council meeting, the Alix Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) budget was presented to council.

After review, councillors found the budget was not balanced so they postponed it until an updated version was prepared.

Certain transfers from their large reserve was used to make this budget complete.

Council approved the budget.

The MGA requires this budget to be approved every year by Sept. 1 but CAO Michelle White understood why it wasn’t completed by that time as there have been several years since the two parties have talked about agreements and their requirements.

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

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