With budgets coming to the forefront, County of Paintearth Council and Administration have been crunching numbers including stagnant water rates.
Water rates for rural tank loaders have not changed in 14 years so Council was tasked with deciding how to move forward at their regular council meeting on Tues. Dec. 11.
Currently, for $1, they can purchase 150 gallons but administration suggested they increase this to $1.50.
Councillors were concerned that many people would not possess quarters, making the increase inconvenient so they rounded up to a toonie.
A few options were brought to the table for household water rates as well.
The County has used about 19,275 m3 from the Commission, billing only 16, 210 m3 including Brownfield and the Brownfield water line.
According to records. the County had a loss of $155,530 without the $20 per month capital fee this year up to the end of October.
In total, they have 27 users on water metres and seven in Brownfield who are not.
The first option was to raise the rate to $3 per cubic metre for a $905 increase in revenue. It means the average water bill will rise approximately $6.72 in total. The second option suggested they raise the rates to $3.10 per cubic metre for a $1,899 revenue increase and average water price to rise to $8.96.
Shirley McClellan Regional Water Services Commission has decided to increase their rates $2.50 per cubic metre to $2.60 per cubic metre (m3).
After deliberation, council agreed to set the water rates as ‘middle of the road’ with $3.10 m3 for a $1,899 increase in revenue and the tanker rate at $1.50 per 150 gallons.
These prices will come into effect January 1.
A two-acre property near Brownfield that was once run by the Community Lauderdale Association is now being transferred over to the County.
The association has determined they will be dissolving thus ownership returns to Paintearth.
The property was at one point a schoolyard with certain necessary amenities such as electricity and heating.
Since bills will be coming to the County this month, disconnecting the gas and power was a suggestion.
Council agreed to keep them running until they determine what to do with the property.
They found the property could be an excellent starter acreage since it is well treed but have found the water to be a ‘hit or miss’ according to neighbours of the property.
They also thought it could make for a bin yard or simply a field for crop or pasture uses.
“I just wanted to make sure you guys are also aware because of the size, it will be a factor into its marketability because of the size. You’re going to be limited to a holding tank or a field because it’s too small for a pump house system which is the normal acreage creation that we see which is 10 acres or more,” added Todd Pawsey, County of Paintearth Development Officer.
After discussion, Deputy Mayor Doreen Blumhagen moved the County to obtain and establish market value by appraisal before offering the property up for sale which was carried.
Tax deferral declined
The County of Paintearth has contacted the federal government over an agricultural decision that happened to leave out the county.
This season has been particularly dry with little precipitation, causing livestock producers to sell off parts if not most of their breeding herd to make up for the lack of money that would have been earned if the weather had cooperated.
The program defers a portion of sale proceeds for one year and producers within the selected areas are eligible for a one-year tax deferral on part of their income from these forced sales.
The livestock tax deferral provision listed neighbouring counties such as the County of Stettler but Paintearth was not.
The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lawrence McAulay, sent a letter to Council regarding the decision saying
“Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada uses an established set of drought measurement tools to identify regions where forage yields have been significantly impacted by drought. Based on the analysis conducted by the Department, the conditions experienced in the County of Paintearth No. 18 do not meet the eligibility criteria for the livestock tax deferral provision.”
Some councillors noted they were able to receive grass insurance for the poor precipitation the area received despite what the letter says about their personal analysis.