Lacombe County turned down Village of Alix’s request to meet to consider providing long-term Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) support to the village.
Lacombe County council, during its regular meeting July 6, defeated the request. They will, however, review, in its long term strategic plan, whether the county could help Alix and other municipalities within Lacombe County.
“They (council) felt if we were getting into the business of providing CAO services that it may not necessarily be limited to one community,” said Lacombe County Commissioner Terry Hager in a phone interview Tuesday. “We know that there are a couple of other CAO’s in villages and towns of Lacombe County that are probably looking at retirement in a five-year window so they (council) said ‘do we have the capacity within our organization’ and we need to review that.”
This process will take time and doesn’t provide Alix, which has an Interim CAO, with immediate support.
“Unfortunately, it doesn’t help them immediately because they have to get something going and they can’t continue with an Acting CAO forever,” said Lacombe County Commissioner Hager.
Alix Interim CAO Robert Stoutenberg said Alix council looked to Lacombe County to see if there was any interest but acknowledged the process would take time.
“Unfortunately, it does take a while to look at things.
“We also have the (Municipal Affairs) inspection report coming out and that is something some of the partners (Lacombe County) are wanting to look at,” added Interim CAO Stoutenberg in a phone interview Tuesday.
Municipal Affairs launched its investigation into Alix earlier this year and the results are expected to be released before the municipal election this fall.
Last March a group of Alix residents gave Municipal Affairs two petitions and asked the government to investigate both the village council and administration. The group cited high taxes and how the village spent tax dollars as reasons for one petition. The second petition asked Municipal Affairs to determine the viability of the Village of Alix. If the investigation determines that the village is being managed in an irregular, improper or improvident manner, the minister can order council, the CAO or a designated officer to make changes. If their directives aren’t met within the times specified then the minister could dismiss council or administration.
Alix would default to the management of Lacombe County if Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor dissolves the village. In 2004 Mirror was dissolved and put under the management of Lacombe County.
“Every time a community dissolves, and it was similar with Mirror, there are challenges,” said Lacombe County Commissioner Hager. “You just have to work through the process and figure out how to make it work.”
ECA Review reporter