A representative of the Prairie Crocus Community Fund based out of Medicine Hat was on the phone with Youngstown councillors at their meeting on Mon. April 6 in replacement of an in-person delegation.
An overarching group known as the Community Foundation of Southern Alberta has taken action during this global pandemic, establishing a fund for the southeast region ‘to address the medium to long term impacts that the pandemic will have across our region.’
They are working closely with municipalities, community partners, and funders within Special Areas 2, 3 as well as the MD of Acadia to ensure that the greatest needs are being addressed within these areas.
Donations from the Prairie Crocus region will be distributed to local charities providing crucial services. Council felt the organization was a good partner to work with since it recently started up.
Increase in membership fees
Coun. Debbie Laughlin started off the reports saying that the Cactus Corridor Economic Development Corporation will be asking for an increase in membership fees in 2021 which was about $500.
Mark Nikota, economic development manager for the corporation, is currently working on a new grant application as well which focuses on getting energy businesses like solar into the area.
“He was wondering if we had any cost amounts or talked to anybody about costs related to a solar project,” said Coun. Laughlin.
“Solar would be a worthwhile thing for us,” said Mayor Robert Blagen.
The other couple of things he was looking at on top of this was updating signage for the village by rebranding but “seeing how mad Hanna got” over their rebranding, council was inclined to stay away from that idea as well as the Affordable Living Project upgrading.
The Corridor focuses on economic development for Special Areas No. 2 including the Town of Hanna, Village of Youngstown and the Hanna Learning Centre.
Curling rink compressor
Coun. Ken Johnson noted the changes of the season when it comes winter facilities now closed like the curling rink.
He has found the curling rink to have an ice plant that is ‘on its last legs’ as it is upwards of 35-years-old so they are looking at pricing out a new compressor.
Johnson noted the pressures were higher than he’d ever seen them and the higher the pressure the more energy is used which increases other bills.
For the concession, the grills and table were removed with new ones replacing them this summer.
One issue he finds is how often the grill is power washed by an outside company as washing is required on an annual basis for at least $1,500.
Since the facility does not get used that often, sometimes once or twice in a whole year, this year being higher at seven times, council felt they could potentially try to save money rather than spend it when it’s not necessary.
“That one year we hadn’t used it at all and still had to pay for them to come out and clean, so I don’t know what the solution is,” said Laughlin.
Johnson mentioned they may be able to bring this issue to the attention of MLA Nate Horner.
Tax mill rates
According to Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Emma Garlock, the tax mill rate for education that was originally going to be set for 2020 has now been changed due to provincial ruling.
The province has chosen to keep this rate the same as it was in 2019 due to the coronavirus.
The CAO felt more comfortable once more information is released before council passes any motions to move forward which was agreed to at the table.
“I don’t want to change this until I have something in writing,” said CAO Garlock.
She mentioned that almost all of the other mill rates within the village will be close to last year as well so ‘it won’t be a big shock’ for residents.
Regional SDAB coming together
An intermunicipal agreement with Palliser about agreeing to be a part of a regional Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB).
Since these types of board meetings are so rare, the area felt it was easier and cheaper to create a single SDAB for people to be apart of.
Council passed all three readings needed to be a part of the establishment of this new regional board.
Another motion was made and carried to rescind an older bylaw requiring the village to have their own personal SDAB
Year-end audit completed
CAO Garlock was happy to announce the completion of the village’s 2019 financial audit, saying Youngstown has come out ahead with a small surplus of $17,464.
“Once again, it went really well,” said CAO Garlock.
Council approved two transfers including $5,769 to a Capital Recreation Reserve which is a pot of money used to look after existing facilities and their maintenance.
She highlighted the excellent communication between herself and the current auditor but did note that the auditor was possibly moving away.
Because of this, Garlock is hoping to maintain the relationship, as although this person will be farther away, most of their communication is done by phone, email and mail already and the thought of training a new person was going to be a challenge.
“It sounded like she might keep the village. It depends on how much work she wants,” said Garlock.