The Village of Big Valley council passed their operating budget and mill rate bylaw with a zero per cent municipal increase.
The latest developments were done at the May 21 regular meeting of council.
The meeting was held one week earlier than usual to accommodate the mailing of tax notices by May 29.
The village continues to follow pandemic measures as well.
Mill rate bylaw
Village of Big Valley Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Sandra Schell noted councillors recently approved their three year operating budget that included a zero per cent municipal tax increase, then followed it up by passing the new mill rate bylaw.
Schell stated council wanted to keep a zero per cent increase to help residents and businesses who’ve been feeling the pressure of the coronavirus pandemic and lagging economy.
She pointed out though that increases in a tax bill are still possible due to the provincial government’s school requisition and senior’s requisition, two taxes the village has no control over.
The CAO also pointed out the village council deferred penalties on property taxes back to Oct. 1.
Councillors heard a presentation from a new gym in Big Valley, Prairie Fitness, and an idea they had for supporting the local fire department.
The gym proposed both the business and the village pay the cost of gym memberships for local volunteer firefighters.
Schell noted council is considering the request but hasn’t made a decision yet.
The updated Big Valley traffic bylaw passed second and third readings at the council meeting.
Schell noted the bylaw was undergoing an examination and update, as it’s been decades since it was touched.
Schell stated the updated traffic bylaw saw only limited changes, with major factors such as the 30 km/hr speed limit left unchanged throughout the village.
One change that was included was that parking in public zones has been limited to 72 hours.
The village’s updated snow removal policy was also approved by council.
Schell stated council was seeking as much efficiency as possible when removing snow, as this job can be a huge expense.
One major change is that public works won’t plow snow until the depth is seven cm.
Before, the department handled snow plowing on a case by case basis.
Schell noted this change will help make the most of the budget set aside for snow removal.
Schell said the village continues to follow all pandemic rules from the provincial government and is also working with Stettler County to have as much consistency as possible.
Council meetings remain closed to the public with alternative measures such as phone-in available.
However, the CAO noted the village office will soon re-open to the public. One member of a household will be allowed into the office at a time.
One municipal playground will re-open with social distancing measures in effect and the municipal campground has re-opened with three stalls out of five available.
Kudos to you
The village recently heard from the province’s Department of Municipal Affairs with results for the Municipal Accountability Program required by the department.
The program examines a municipality’s compliance with certain requirements and Schell stated Big Valley’s grade came in well under what are considered legislative gaps.
Schell stated it gave the village council and staff a good feeling to get that positive feedback.
Fees and charges bylaw
Councillors also approved Bylaw 848, the Fees and Charges Bylaw.
The CAO noted this is the bylaw that lays out what the village charges for various jobs and services.
She stated the old bylaw was outdated and required some modernization.
Water and sewer bylaw
Much the same as above, the Water and Sewer Bylaw has also been updated for consideration by council.
Schell stated one change to the bylaw includes a penalty for late utility payments.
Currently, the village doesn’t charge a penalty if residents pay their utility bills late.
The revised bylaw suggests a charge after 30 days overdue. The bylaw will return to the June 26 meeting.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter