Free public skating to continue

Vern Thuroo, secretary to the Hanna Elks Lodge, right, presents $3,000 to Mayor Chris Warwick to ensure public skating is free of charge. ECA Review/ R. Reckseidler

A $3,000 check from the Hanna Elks Lodge was given to the town to maintain free public skating.

Vern Thuroo, secretary of the Hanna Elks Lodge, presented this cheque at the Hanna town council meeting on Dec. 10.

He also reported ‘everything is starting to fall into place’ regarding the 2020 Elks National Curling Championships which will be held in Hanna in February.

Thuroo also said the Elks are sponsoring a defibrillator at the Library.

2020 Budget meetings

Mayor Chad Warwick, council and administration attended 2020 Budget meetings on Nov. 20, Nov. 27 and Dec. 5.

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Kim Neill said that the proposed budget is a break-even budget and will require the same amount of tax dollars as the 2019 budget.

There is an anticipation of a large capital infrastructure project in 2020 which will be completed with grants provided by the provincial and federal governments.

Wage increases to permanent staff are forecasted with a one per cent Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA).

Seasonal and part time position wages will be increased for returning employees only, who will see an increase of $0.50/hour from the 2019 rates.

The new budget has eliminated one seasonal position.

Neill said that highlights to the new budget include the subsidy to the medical clinic which will be increased slightly over 2019.

The grant to the SPCA has been reduced by $2,500.

The concrete sidewalk replacement program budget remains at $100,000. The Museum operation grant will remain at the 2019 level.

No new tax dollars will be allocated to the Spray Park, which is fully funded by government grants, fundraising and Town and Special Areas contributions.

Mayor Warwick said it is important to note that a $100,000 reduction from the provincial government funding was managed by ‘belt tightening’.

CAO Neill said everyone should be made aware that in the spring of 2020, with the setting of the 2020 property tax rate, Council may be facing further budget adjustments.

Policing could be a potential increase in cost if the province rolls out its new Rural Policing Initiative in 2020.

Neill said there are many unanswered questions and no guarantees surrounding this initiative and it is great the province wants to address rural crime but dealing with this new initiative offers challenges to rural municipalities.

If this police funding request moves forward as presented it will be almost a 10 per cent tax increase by 2023.

Financial reports

Responding to questions from Coun. Sandra Beaudoin about the accounts payable ledger, CAO Neill explained the funds in question were paid to a consultant for work on a solar project and an additional payment went to another consultant retained for preparation of a report on the feasibility of the Henry Kroeger Regional Water Facility “coming off the grid”.

Neill added that town administration was studying these projects to determine if the Town could save money spent on energy.

He said both projects were funded by a grant from the province.

Neill also reported that another study is underway, also funded by grant money. And is reviewing the business case to see if all of the municipal facilities within town and Special Areas could be programmed to use solar power to come off the grid and invest power back into municipal operations.

This study is presently at the environmental review stage and the group meets bi-weekly by telephone.

Neill said things are progressing a little slower than administration would like because of securing lease agreements, but the committee will be hosting an on-site meeting in the New Year.

Coun. Campion said he had reviewed the budget presented by the Big Country Waste Management Commission (BCWMC) and found a mistake in calculations.

CAO Neill said that finding this mistake means that the increase to the BCWMC budget will now be reduced and therefore the increase to Hanna property owner utility rates will not be as great as expected.

Funding for the Family Resource Network Director of Community Resources, Gwen Snell, reported on the provincial funding reductions for the Family Resource Network.

A new program, designed to be a “Hub and Spoke” system is being introduced and the province has asked the Hanna area to send a message noting their interest by mid-January.

Snell said our area includes Three Hills, Drumheller, Hanna and Starland County.

This is a large area and involves many separate contracts.

To meet this deadline, Hanna Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) and Kneehill FCSS will be working together to bring all major contract holders together to discuss strategy moving forward.

Snell noted that the province is concerned about unnecessary duplication of spending.

Rebranding details

Hanna council unanimously approved the New Strategic Plan and Rebrand presented to the public at the end of November.

Upon formal adoption of the new brand and the branding guidelines council approved a plan and timeline.

Administration recommended that the logo, website, marketing materials and signage be rolled out with the website going live on Jan. 8, 2020.

Social Media Graphics, business cards and letterhead followed by remaining administrative and promotional templates will be implemented using existing staff availability with existing job duties within three to four months.

Vehicle and equipment decals will be replaced under the existing operating budgets.

Signage, except for the three entrance cedar signs, and the west entrance message centre will be replaced under the Facility Operating budget for 2020.

It may take three to four years to build up the rebrand inventory to the point that the Town is presently at in 2019.

Tactical Playbook

Council supported the motion to accept the Town of Hanna Strategic Plan and the Cactus Corridor/Hanna “The Way Forward” Tactical Playbook, prepared by 13 Ways Inc. Coun. Beaudoin asked if Hanna and Cactus Corridor were sharing costs on these documents.

CAO Neill said that Cactus Corridor covered the cost of the Strategic Plan and Playbook.

New waste collection contract approved 

Council reviewed three submissions  for waste collection and voted unanimously to accept the proposal submitted by Darcy Limpert for an annual cost of $75,400.

 

Eileen Morrill

ECA Review

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