Bashaw town council balks at approving revised water commission budget

Written by Stu Salkeld

Bashaw town council wouldn’t approve a revised 2022 budget from the Hwy. #12/21 Water Commission and instead requested representatives to attend council with information. The decision was made at the Dec. 20 regular meeting.

Town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Theresa Fuller provided councillors with a report on the Hwy. #12/21 Water Commission’s revised budget, the original version of which called for no rate increases in 2022.

A document from the commission, titled 2022-24 operational budget and prepared by Keith Boras, manager, Hwy. #12/21 Water Commission, “The 2022 operational budget has been prepared by administration for the commission members to review,” noted the commission document.

“The 2022 budget was presented to the commission at the Nov. 13, 2021 board meeting. Since the meeting there are several changes that resulted from a delay in the connection of the new water segments,” added the commission document. 

It noted that the original water consumption estimate of 309,700 cubic metres has been amended to 282,450 cubic metres, and since fewer cubic metres are being sold less revenue will come into the commission. Therefore, the amended commission budget included a per cubic metre rate of $3.146 to member municipalities.

When looking at the amended budget Coun. Kyle McIntosh said, “Deja vu,” referring to the fact Bashaw council had recently approved the commission’s 2022 budget.

CAO Fuller stated she didn’t know what effect if any the new budget would have on resident water rates.

Mayor Rob McDonald stated he felt the commission should send someone to council to explain this situation and answer questions.

Coun. Cindy Orom, who is a council representative to the commission, stated she heard at a previous board meeting the revised budget was due to extenuating circumstances and it seemed members could either pay the rate increase at the beginning of the year or get a bill for the outstanding at the end of the year.

Mayor McDonald wondered if the commission has tried belt-tightening rather than revising the budget.

McIntosh noted the budget also showed the commission earmarked $5,000 to buy hand tools and also described the commission’s admin fee of nine per cent as “obscene,” stating that admin fees are usually two to five per cent.

Coun. Bryan Gust, also a council representative to the commission, stated he thought the higher admin fees might be related to the Clive and Edberg projects which may drop when they’re finished.

McIntosh stated there appeared to be concerns from at least one other commission member that the “spirit and intent” of the commission’s bylaws were somehow not followed as this amended budget was prepared.

Councillors decided to accept the amended budget for information and request commission representatives to attend a meeting with council to answer questions.

Closed session items

Councillors moved into closed session for two items, including a delegation from the Bear Hills Family Wellness Centre under FOIP section 16 and a property drainage issue under FOIP section 27.

After coming out of closed session councillors passed a motion to accept the Bear Hills Family Wellness Centre’s presentation for information., and noted council is looking forward to receiving the centre’s application.

Regarding the property drainage issue council passed a motion to direct administration to proceed as discussed in closed session.

 

Stu Salkeld

Local Journalism Initiative reporter

ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.