Former mayor sends Village of Morrin bill for expenses

Written by Stu Salkeld

The former mayor of the Village of Morrin sent the municipality an $1,800 invoice for expenses he claims he incurred due to a non-functioning sewer system. Councillors discussed the invoice at the Sept. 21 regular meeting of council.

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Annette Plachner presented councillors with an invoice from former mayor Howard Helton, who has been at odds with the village for at least the previous year over his residential sewer hook-up which Helton says did not work properly.

As councillors examined the invoice Coun. Lorraine MacArthur noted one expense was listed as $350 for a plumber. The CAO noted Helton stated he hired a company to use cameras inside the sewer system.

Mayor Chris Hall also noted the invoice included costs for a port-a-potty that Helton has on his property to address the lack of sewer service.

Hall stated that it appeared the invoice was drawn up by Helton, and didn’t include any other bills or invoices from the services he claimed he used. MacArthur stated she wanted to see evidence the expenses were incurred before she approved paying them and listed proof of the camera work and proof of any blockage found.

The CAO stated Helton never proved to the village that his sewer line was malfunctioning. During discussion it was stated that the village bylaw requires a resident to contact the village immediately upon having a sewer problem, and it was stated Helton didn’t do that.

It was agreed the village would send a letter to Helton declining to pay the bill and asking for evidence as discussed.

Short cut
Coun. M’Liss Edwards mentioned she was concerned about motorists cutting across grass between the school and ball diamonds because of the safety hazard involved.
CAO Plachner noted she’d also had been made aware of the short-cutting.

Public Works Foreman Dave Benci stated people were probably doing it because Main Street has been closed for construction, but he’s been told Main Street will be open again by the end of September.

During discussion councillors agreed they wanted something done to stop the short-cutting, as it may continue even after Main Street re-opens.

Benci stated he can dig some holes with the backhoe that will prevent the short-cuts.

Tax recovery
Councillors passed a resolution that a tax recovery sale be held on Nov. 17 at the village office for properties linked to unpaid tax bills.

The CAO noted it will be advertised multiple times and the first advertisement will be sent to all involved parties.

Mysterious hook-up
Benci stated he tried his best to accommodate a request from the community hall board which stated they wanted the valve shut-off on the north side removed, but he said he could not locate it.

Benci stated the valve shut-off can’t be in anyone’s way because he spent considerable time looking for it and came up with nothing.

Benci stated he could keep looking for it if council wished, but Mayor Hall told Benci to leave it alone and get on with his other work.

Reservoir work
Benci gave council an update on the water reservoir, noting it needs some work which was pointed out by Alberta Environment. He said he got a quote from another contractor that was quite a bit less money than previous investigation.

Benci added that there is grant money available for this project.

Water back-up
The foreman pointed out he needs a back-up named for water testing in the event Benci is unavailable. The foreman went on to explain the short term back-up doesn’t necessarily need certification if the help is for less than a week.

Mayor Hall volunteered to be Benci’s short term back-up.

Solar switch
The foreman reported on a solar power switch which burned out and an inspector advised wasn’t needed anyway. Benci stated an on/off switch for the village’s water system solar panels burned out, with a $525 replacement cost.

However, an inspector advised Benci that because the system has breakers and fuses, the on/off switch was redundant.

New cameras
Benci also reported on new security cameras. He’d been advised that retail stores offer a wide range of decent cameras and the village would likely find what it needs there.

He predicted motion sensing cameras would cost between $200 and $300 and can be placed in a cage to protect them. It was noted council already approved this expenditure.

Franchise agreement
The CAO noted during her regular report that the village’s franchise agreement with utility provider Apex is coming due; the village has the opportunity to increase the franchise fee if so desired.

The franchise fee is paid by Apex to the village as a fee for working within the municipality. Coun. MacArthur stated she was not in favour of increasing the fee, which currently sits at 12 per cent.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.