Big Valley village council agrees to some relief for resident’s utility bill

Big Valley Alberta Wheat Pool Elevator - July 27, 2018 ECA Review/Terri Huxley
Stu Salkeld
Written by Stu Salkeld

Big Valley village council agreed to give a resident some relief on an unpaid utility bill. 

The decision was made at the Aug. 27 regular meeting of council.

Village Chief Administrative Officer Sandra Schell stated a village resident had previously come into the office to discuss unpaid property tax and utility bills, and asked the village for leniency on the January and February utility bills, stating that his water was frozen and asked if council would reduce some of the penalty amounts added to his bill as a result. 

Schell stated the entire amount was about $800.

Schell said she had no information on whether the freeze was on his property or village property, but when it was steamed, she was told the freeze was on the resident’s property. 

Schell stated the resident came in at the end of February and asked for the steamer to address a freeze-up.

Mayor Harry Nibourg stated that the resident is a war veteran and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, and the village should show some leniency for such an individual.

Coun. Clark Germain asked if any payments have been made on the outstanding amounts found that no payments had been made in about a year, but the village was in discussions with the resident.

Germain stated showing leniency would be a nice gesture, but at the same time it creates a precedent for unpaid property taxes and utility bills. 

Germain suggested waiving the consumption charges for January and February but leaving the penalty charges on the bill.

Mayor Nibourg stated that if the situation ends up in court, the village doesn’t handle it any further, a lawyer does.

Councillors eventually passed a motion by a 2 to 1 vote that the village would waive half of the consumption and penalty charges if the resident pays the other half.

Property taxes

Schell presented councillors with a report on a recent resident’s complaint about their property tax assessment.

The resident was concerned about a change in their assessment and Schell noted it appears, previously, multiple properties were taxed together or as one. However, most recently the assessor taxed all three separately. 

Mayor Nibourg noted there’s nothing the village can do about that.

Coun. Tizzard stated that the resident could have all three titles combined into one. 

Schell agreed, noting that’s up to the property owner. Councillors passed a motion to leave the assessment “as-is.”

Sewer issue

A local resident, Kevin Stamp, was on the agenda as a delegation to speak to council about sewer complaints but he was unable to attend the Aug. 27 meeting.

Nibourg stated he was aware of Stamp’s concerns, was told that the village did some preparation on the pumps and recommended scoping the line as some plugging could be going on.

The mayor also stated if there is a blockage, it should be cleared and perhaps a camera should be put in the line to find out for sure.

CAO Schell stated the Public Works department informed her two pumps are working, including a temporary pump, while the village waits for parts for one other pump. She noted this issue will return at a future meeting.

Animal bylaw tabled

Councillors agreed to table an update to the animal control bylaw. 

Schell stated updates came about mainly as a result of phone calls to the village office about animals such as chickens and cattle. 

The bylaw doesn’t mention such animals except vaguely in section 810, she noted, and staff wanted clear direction on handling these situations.

Coun. Germain noted the bylaw mostly talks about dogs.

Mayor Nibourg stated problems of this nature are usually with the owner, not the animal.

The bylaw was tabled and will return to a future meeting.

Water/sewer bylaw

The updated water/sewer bylaw passed first and second readings by 2 – 1 votes with Germain and Coun. Art Tizzard in favour, but then saw third reading defeated by a 1 – 2 vote with Tizzard and Mayor Nibourg opposed.

Nibourg stated the bylaw has a major effect on residents and shouldn’t have had all readings passed at that meeting.

Councillors then discussed the bylaw enforcement bylaw and decided to table that to the next meeting for the same reason.

 

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

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.

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