Council may tweak utility billing

Big Valley village council may tweak the way it handles utility billing. The issue was discussed at the Feb. 27 regular meeting of council.

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Sandra Schell stated councillors noted that they feel the current system for dealing with delinquent utility accounts may not be the most efficient way.

Currently, bills must pass a 90-day “unpaid” term, when they are then transferred to the property owner’s tax bill. After another 90 days pass with no payment, utilities are then shut off.

Schell stated councillors want to examine how other jurisdictions handle this issue and that information will be presented at a future council meeting.

Delegation 

Canadian Northern representative Rich Graydon spoke to council about a couple of items.

Graydon was interested in a study on possible improvements to the village’s roundhouse and the possible purchase of railroad property.

Councillors accepted the presentation for information.

Traffic bylaw

Councillors examined the village’s traffic bylaw, which hasn’t been updated in some time.

CAO Schell noted it dates back to 1962.

She stated nothing is particularly vital but the bylaw does contain some old information that’s no longer applicable.

Councillors made certain amendments and staff will bring back the proposed bylaw to a future council meeting.

Snow removal

Councillors examined the Village of Big Valley snow removal bylaw to see if it needs updating.

They directed staff to investigate how other municipalities handle snow removal and bring that information back to them at a future meeting.

Improvement

Councillors discussed the Continuous Improvement workshop.

This program is related to developing a vision for the future of the village, especially pertaining to growth.

This item will be discussed again at a future meeting.

Village lots

Schell noted councillors discussed lots owned by the village which are or could be available for sale.

Councillors were keen to get certain lots available for sale and ensure the public is aware of this.

They decided to advertise at least one lot, leave it open for offers for six months and get a report back later on the results.

Transfer to taxes

Councillors agreed to pass unpaid utility bills onto the landowner tax roll. When necessary, this is done on a monthly basis.

Schell wanted to ensure residents know the village office is always open for those who are having trouble with their bills.

Drop by the office and talk to the staff to develop a plan that benefits everyone.

Lead testing

The provincial government has made it mandatory for municipalities to test water systems for lead levels. School said the village has developed a plan to test 10 times this year through a lottery draw, including both older areas, pre-1965, and likely some newer areas. This will give an accurate picture of the entire village.

All tests will be done this year.

Funding quandary

Councillors voiced concern over emergency management funding billing forwarded from Stettler County.

Typically, the village budgets about $1,500 for this, but this year the bill was “significantly higher,” noted Schell.

Apparently the county wasn’t aware the cost would be higher either.

 

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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