Those County of Stettler residents who employ the municipality’s service for laneway snowplowing will have to set aside some funds to pay for the service this coming winter.
Councillors decided to introduce a fee for laneway snowplowing at their regular meeting June 14.
“Changes to the grading and snowplowing services fee structure and policy have been recommended by the Committee of the Whole (COW),” stated the staff memo.
“At COW, council reviewed the current grade or snowplowing services to private property policy and recommended changes to the fee structure.
“Changes to the policy have been made to account for the proposed fee structure, clarify that the snowplowing administration fee is non-refundable and required for each laneway on a property, clarify that an inspection shall be performed prior to snowplowing, establish criteria for when the CAO may consider waiving fees, removed redundant language already contained in our human resources manual.
“The details of the new fee structure are within the fee bylaw proposal. The changes in the policy reflect that each occurrence of snowplowing will now be charged in addition to an annual administration charge.”
Director of Operations Joe McCulloch was present and discussed the proposed changes with councillors, who were already familiar with the proposals after they were discussed at length in COW.
McCulloch stated the admin fee would be $100, the snowplowing fee per instance would be a $100 charge, all of which were agreed to at the COW discussion.
Manager of Municipal Services Andrew Brysiuk pointed out that the $100 fee was per snowplowing occurrence, not a flat fee for the entire winter.
As councillors discussed the proposed new fees the topic of a “hold harmless” agreement was mentioned as county staff would by necessity have to enter onto private property to plow snow.
It was noted the agreement would likely have a deadline attached to it as all details would have to be in place before winter arrives.
Councillor Les Stulberg noted many ratepayers likely would prefer to pay such fees or otherwise finalize the snowplowing agreement when they come in to pay their taxes.
Coun. James Nibourg noted the County of Stettler may see fewer people sign up for this service now that there is a fee associated with it, as some users sign up for programs simply because they’re free. Nibourg predicted this could result in an easing of the staff workload.
During discussion councillors also mentioned the section of changes referring to the chief administrative officer (CAO) having the option to waive fees when necessary. It was noted that in the event certain county residents, for example, people with severe health conditions or pregnancy, need snow plowed, the CAO could approve that.
Councillors then discussed the hold harmless agreement deadline, eventually settling on “…the last working day of October.”
Coun. Stulberg noted deadlines aren’t as important as some people think, as payments and other details can be worked out anytime before the deadline, not just the last day.
Stulberg also acknowledged there was some talk about doing away with laneway snowplowing completely, but he was glad to see it stay on as a viable service because there are some County of Stettler residents who have no other option.
Councillors unanimously approved the changes to the laneway snowplowing policy with the deadline of the last working day in October.
Local Journalism Initiative reporter