Big Valley Council meeting County of Stettler over bridge debt

Big Valley village council agreed to meet with their County of Stettler counterparts to discuss an outstanding invoice of over $30,000.

The decision was made at the April 15 regular meeting of council.

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Colleen Mayne presented councillors with an update on an unpaid invoice sent to the village by the County of Stettler; Mayne’s report noted the county billed Big Valley $32,206.91 as the village’s share of bridge repairs carried out during the summer of 2023.

It was heard at previous council meetings the Village of Big Valley council passed a resolution to morally support the bridge projects through a signed letter but no resolution to spend Big Valley tax dollars on the bridges was ever found.

Councillors discussed the issue with Mayne noting no further information could be found.

They decided to attend an April 23 meeting with the County of Stettler to discuss this issue.

Change of scope
Councillors unanimously approved changing the scope of an infrastructure study awarded to MPE Engineering to include work on the village’s lagoon.

The CAO summarized in her report that the lagoon’s condition is serious enough to require an action plan that includes a geotechnical investigation. MPE reported at a previous meeting the lagoon’s berm has a crack in it and further investigation was wise.

MPE provided a quote for the change of scope just over $47,000; Coun. Dan Houle said the fee was tough to take but the study needs to be done so council knows what repairs the lagoon needs.

The CAO pointed out grants are available to help with this project.

Council pay rates
Councillors unanimously approved by resolution to make several changes to the way they are paid, referred to as ‘remuneration’.

They cut their mileage rate for attending out-of-town meetings from 68 cents to 53 cents, on par with what the provincial government pays.

They increased the quarterly stipend from $312 to $350.

They also agreed to remove a “social functions” paragraph in the remuneration policy which read, “Members of Council have the authority to take others out to a meal up to a $100 value without prior approval, where it is believed to be in the Village’s best interest. Meals in excess of $100 require approval from Council as a whole before they occur.”

In her report the CAO stated that a former mayor didn’t remember this paragraph and thus refused to sign the policy to bring it into effect.

Former Big Valley CAO Elaine MacDonald was present and spoke up, noting that this paragraph was in the draft policy, can be found on the village’s website and was included in the 2022 organizational meeting agenda where council had a chance to read it.

MacDonald stated she felt this discussion was an attack on her personally and asked that such attacks be stopped.

Request granted
Councillors unanimously granted a request from the Big Valley Community Centre to waive a very large utility bill that, according to the CAO, was caused by a faulty water metre.

According to the CAO’s report the community centre got a water bill for the month of February that was just over $700; typically their water bill in the past for that time period ranged between $20 and $50.

The CAO acknowledged the village’s metre was to blame and recommended a credit be placed on the community centre’s utility account for $800 to cover erroneous February charges plus any that carried over to March.

Mayne added the faulty metre had been replaced.

Third opinion
Councillors heard an update on the village’s John Deere tractor which is in need of repair.

It was stated at the meeting two mechanics have already looked at the vehicle and listed it’s problems.

Mayne noted a third mechanic was scheduled to examine the tractor the third week of April. She added, because of the costs involved, a special council meeting may be required to discuss repairs.

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.