Extensive financial system upgrade training leaves no easy solutions

A much-needed upgrade to Delia’s financial system was a large topic of discussion at the regular meeting on Thurs. Sept. 10.

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Tracy Breese said the current office workload to be completed within a three day work week is doable but it is the extra training for the village’s new financial system that is causing headaches.

The company they are working with, iCity, has already been slowly chipping away at upgrading to their new system but said that the training the CAO will need to go through will take a minimum of 94 hours over the next four months (approximately 24 hours per month).

She has been backing up the entire financial system which has been sent to iCity to configure the data into the new system so any work after Aug. 31 until they go live is needed to be replicated. 

This means that all of their transactions whether it be payroll, accounts payable, cash receipts, water bills, tax payments, new account setup, etc. are printed and copied for this new system. 

In total, this has led to working a minimum of 12 hours a week extra just to do this alone.

 CAO Breese did mention she would like to stick to a part-time schedule but was willing to extend her time by an extra day to get this work completed. 

She did recommend, however, that council hire a casual assistant to handle the day-to-day functions and copying while she did this training as it keeps the office open.

Council made the decision to table any kind of motion at this time, choosing to have a special meeting on Thurs. Sept. 17 to allow the CAO time to come up with some estimate figures on adding a day at the present per hour rate until January 2021 and how much an assistant would cost.

Their current website administrator is also wishing to retire but with the site being quite un-user friendly on the backend has been trying.

On top of this, the online water system is also in need of upgrading as well but will be looked at another time.

Fire chief communication

Mayor Sisley mentioned a couple of times throughout the meeting of a lack of communication between the fire department and the village.

Although it is expected the fire chief either comes in every quarter or gives a written report on the happenings at the local department, they have received hardly any word about their activities or purchases if needed.

CAO Breese mentioned she received a verbal report from the chief last time they came in.

“It seems we are one of the only areas having these problems,” said Sisley.

Council directed administration to contact the fire chief to seek answers about this.

Tax recovery process

CAO Breese gave an in-depth idea of the tax recovery process – specifically for two properties getting ready for auction including the hotel on Main Street and a quarter-acre parcel on the south end of town.

An advertisement is required to be placed in the Alberta Gazette as part of provincial legislation. 

Council went back and forth on pricing as each reserve bid must be set close to fair market value.

The hotel for example was last listed at $159,000 but a recent appraisal set it at $142,640 market value as the assessor felt with the economic downturn and questionable interior (as they and the village can not access the inside), they felt this was a bottom-dollar value for this particular building.

All mail that has been sent to the owner of the building has been returned to the village.

Councillors mentioned there are interested individuals in purchasing the building but not particularly at that price but as regulation states, they cannot change the market value price very much.

The quarter-acre of land with some derelict buildings was valued at $15,160.

Three motions were passed to allow this auction to take place including accepting the terms and conditions of the sale, determining the date, time and location of the auction and establishing the reserve bid at market price.

Utility bill request

The village received two letters from Casey and Anthony Peterson in regards to paying a base utility fee of $42 for 201 Main Street, a commercial property owned by Anthony.

Mr. Peterson asked council to consider excluding this property from this charge as they have never applied for a service connection and do consider the building to be disconnected as it would require a major retrofit for water to be connected again.

He has owned the building since 1993.

In February of this year, council dissected this particular bylaw to make it fair for residents while still retaining some cash flow for the infrastructure provided.

In this newly redone bylaw, it states that ‘Any property owner that has a service connection is responsible for all service charges, fees and other charges as outlined in the fees and rates schedule’ which came right from the Municipal Government Act.

Public works confirmed there was a curb stop at the property and that a shut-off of water supply to a property does not relieve the owner from paying any fees for this connection.

CAO Breese stated there are 15 other owners in this same predicament who are paying.

Council chose to deny the request for fear of ‘opening a whole can of worms for others’ and that the owner still has the option to connect which constitutes the continuation in charges.

Franchise fees

ATCO Electric and Alta Gas’s annual review of franchise fees was brought to council for a decision.

After a short discussion, council chose to stick with both current fee rates as they did not want to increase any further for citizens.

Electricity is set at five per cent which amounts to $12,900 each year in revenue for the village.

Council felt they were right in line with other communities in the area.

Drumheller is at nine per cent, Stettler at 11.1 per cent, Hanna at 7.5 per cent, Morrin at 3.5 per cent, Donalda at 4.5 per cent, Big Valley at two per cent and Munson at one per cent.

As for gas, it is set slightly higher at 12 per cent which amounts to $17,463.11 in revenue for the 2021 year.

Average rates in the area are 18 per cent. 

Sidewalk Replacement

“Sidewalks are expensive,” began CAO Breese.

She and Mayor Sisley recently went over the tender packages received for the replacement of worn-out sidewalks within Delia.

Overall, she was ‘unimpressed’ with a few of them except for Olds Concrete Services.

This company had an impressive list of references and projects, works at Calgary sidewalk standards and was the lowest bid but was unable to begin this year as they are completely booked.

Council was okay with this though as it allowed all their work to be completed in one go which would complete all work needed for sidewalks for a long time.

“Just based on the cost I don’t know how I could recommend anyone else,” said the CAO.

A motion to follow through with awarding the sidewalk contract to Olds Concrete Services for the sum of $141,530 for next year was carried.

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Fast forward to 2020, she has won second in the same category for the AWNA.

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