Forestburg Town Council met November 6, 2013 primarily to discuss the 2014 budget, utility costs.
“We are anticipating the budget not to be significantly more for 2014,” Said CAO Debra Moffat.
Council’s motions were mostly to keep the budget similar to last years with no substantial changes.
Citizens of Forestburg can expect their utility bills to rise roughly five dollars due to rising water costs. Final decision on this matter is at the end of the month. Garbage requisition rates dropped $7 and gas increased by the same amount.
Councillor Danya Oberg was not opposed to dropping the garbage rates but believes they should remain close to what they are now.
“Recycling is the way of the future and Forestburg is by far the best recycler in the county. The extra money put into garbage requisition is worth it in the long run as it helps us update our recycling systems,” said Oberg.
The increase in water is unavoidable, as the cost of the water has increased for the town itself.
“We are not in the business to make money but we should break even on our utilities and charge what they cost,” said councilor Hagell.
Water treatment plant
Town Council received plans for their new Water treatment plant from Associated Engineering, another engineering company they had contacted. With still no plans or updates from the current town engineer council moved to give him two weeks to appear before council and produce the plans he has claimed to have had completed for two years, or forfeit his position as engineer of the new water treatment plant.
There were mixed feelings on this motion, as the current engineer has been with the town for many years and knows it well. Councilor Danya Oberg voiced his opinion that it was time to do something.
“Think of it as if it was you. If your accountant hadn’t shown you your financial records in two years, after frequent requests, you’d be getting a new accountant. He has been an important asset to the town, but it is unprofessional of him to withhold information this way,” Oberg said. “Especially when it puts us in danger of losing our grant on the project.”
Moffat agreed. “I have contacted the grant provider and informed them of the situation, although they are growing quite frustrated with the engineer, we will not be in any great danger of losing our grant. However the more time we waste, the longer it will take to get a new plant up and running.”
Community group funding
Council also moved to provide funding to several community groups as they worked through what they wanted on the budget. The groups approved were the Battle River Watershed Alliance, Forestburg Community Hall, Communities in Bloom, Forestburg Arena Association and the Forestburg Municipal Library Board.
“It is nearly impossible to acquire funding for library programs in any way shape or form from the County of Flagstaff,” said Moffat. “Therefore it falls to us to provide the majority of the funding for our local libraries.”
New energy provider
The town is expected to get a new energy provider, 8760 Energy for a three year contract and AMSC will be informed of the change. After getting quotes from Enmax and other energy providers, a final decision will be made.
“[The current energy provider] never provided me with any real information,” said Moffat. “They have a basic lack of respect for the customer, send only a simple standard graph and quote that they give out to every customer, and give no real information on estimated costs or our consumption… 8760 Energy actually works with the town and will speak in plain English what there contract terms and estimated costs are.”
A meeting with Battle River Railway about their emergency plans finally occurred with a couple members of council. BRR agreed to support local training of Forestburg’s first responders through the Railway Association of Canada. In light of recent rail accidents in Alberta this is a good sign for the community.
“It went well and they will be giving us a copy of their plans some time in December,” CAO Moffat said. “I think this heralds a lot more regional meetings between rail companies and the local municipalities for safe rail transport, as other communities in the area have the same concerns as us.”
Concerns of snow removal from the weekend blizzard were discussed. Council passed a motion to add Community buildings, such as churches, schools and halls, to be added to the priority list for snow removal as number four. Also there was mention that more public works employees are finally being trained to properly use the snow plow.
“While I admit that last storm the response could’ve been faster, it was by no means an emergency situation,” Moffat said.