A handful of people showed up to the County of Stettler council chambers Mar. 22 hoping to hear the County’s decision on the petition calling for a vote on the borrowing Bylaw 1558-16 for the new county shop.
The additional meeting had been set at the Mar. 9 regular meeting to address the petition. However, the petition was not listed on the Mar. 22 agenda.
In an interview with CAO Tim Fox following the meeting, Fox stated council decided to delay the decision on the petition until the intrusive investigation on the old public works shop was completed. The results are expected to be presented at the April 13 regular meeting.
According to Fox, council has 90 days from the time the petition is declared sufficient to hold a plebiscite on the bylaw. Considering the unknown factors of the old shop, council felt it was prudent to await the results.
Fox also indicated he will present council with plebiscite costs at the next meeting.
Ratepayers not happy
Ratepayers Jim Bogdanovich and Glen Leppard were less then complimentary with council as they appeared together in a delegation at the meeting.
Both made it clear they were against the idea of the County borrowing money to build a new shop and Leppard was against building a new shop altogether.
Leppard went so far as to suggest the county wouldn’t need a new shop at all if they contracted out the majority of work. Leppard claimed contractors did better work than county employees anyway when it came to grading roads.
Reeve Wayne Nixon strongly defended county employees and attempted to explain to Leppard that contracting out may be an option in a slow economy but the minute things turn around, those contractors have moved on to greener pastures where they earn more than the county can pay. That means the county has to replace those contractors with their own crew and machinery, all of which is more expensive than simply maintaining their own crews and equipment. Leppard was not convinced.
Both men also threw an accusation at council that the county would go over budget on the new building, claiming that previous county projects had gone over budget.
That was the last straw for Coun. James Nibourg, who took issue with the pair’s claim.
“I will not let anyone say that about this administration,” retorted Nibourg, stating that several projects completed by the current council and administration have been completed under budget.
Results by April 13
In an effort to fast track the instrusive investigation on the old shop, Rick Green, Director of Engineering, requested quotes from four engineering firms. Only two were willing to submit quotes for the project in the tight time frame.
Of those two, Stantec and WSP Canada Inc, WSP was able to commit to completing the project by the April 13 deadline.
WSP will start where the original Stantec assessment left off, completing evaluations on air quality, electrical and mechanical systems, structural integrity, building envelope, hazardous materials in walls as well as an Occupational Health and Safety assessment.
“I don’t want anything superficial,” stated Green, “We’re trying to get a level of detail.”
WSP is one of the largest professional services firms in Canada specializing in a number of areas including municipal infrastructure.
Good financial report card
Peggy Weinzierl of Gitzel and Company awarded the County another clean audit for 2015.
As of Dec. 31, 2015, the County had financial assets of $20.45 million, liabilities of $9.87 million, and reserves of $11.17 million.