Big Valley council reverses decision on MOST money for new floor

Written by Stu Salkeld

Big Valley village council reversed a previous decision to use about $9,500 of Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) funding to replace flooring in the village office. 

The decision was made at the April 22 regular meeting of council.

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Tracy Mindus reported to council that staff recently received a number of letters and emails from the community mostly in opposition to council’s MOST decision.

Mayor Clark German stated the opposition was aimed at council’s decision in March to replace carpet in the village office’s washroom and front office area paid with MOST funds. 

German stated he personally felt that there was enough outreach from the community that it would be fair to review the decision and noted council should discuss rescinding the previous motion. 

MOST funding is a one-time provincial government grant to help communities with COVID-19 related expenses,

Germain further stated council could also postpone any further decision on MOST funding until they begin their 2021 budget deliberations. 

“Is there cause for a pause?” asked the mayor.

Coun. Harry Nibourg pointed out the March vote was 2 to 1 in favour of the flooring project, with he and Coun. Art Tizzard in favour and German opposed. Nibourg stated the village’s procedural bylaw would only allow the rescinding of a passed motion by someone who voted in favour of it.

CAO Mindus looked up the bylaw in question and confirmed Nibourg was correct. 

Additionally, the motion to rescind must be unanimous and no such motion can be made within six months of the original vote unless there is a two-thirds majority in support.

Nibourg also stated he read the emails from the community and responded to some of them, explaining why he voted in favour of the flooring project, and also noted decisions on the MOST money were not part of a plebiscite, that is to say, a public poll.

Mayor German agreed with that point, stating councillors can’t go back on every decision because someone complains about it. However, the mayor stated he felt this situation was different because there was a large number of complaints, not just one or two.

Nibourg explained he told residents the reasons he supported the flooring project is because the floor had to be done eventually, with the MOST funds it wouldn’t come out of the village budget and that the funds don’t necessarily have to go to non-profit groups.

Mindus pointed out that the provincial government required MOST decisions to be finalized by April 30.

Coun. Tizzard stated he talked to a resident in person about this issue, and the resident was concerned that council had granted MOST funds to the rodeo association, which has no expenses, as opposed to other groups that do have expenses.

Tizzard asked if the funds can be banked and a final decision made later. 

Mindus answered the funds originally intended for the flooring project could be placed in an account with other MOST funds set aside to cover unpaid property taxes.

Councillors unanimously agreed to rescind the resolution approving MOST funds for the flooring project, and instead agreed to place that roughly $9,500 in the account intended to cover unpaid taxes.

 

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.