Hanna Council debates increases in community fees and charges

Town of Hanna
Written by ECA Review

Hanna Council were presented with Policy 2023 – 01 regarding fees and charges for town facilities, programs and services at their regular meeting on Tues. April 11.

Coun. Thuroo noted that no charges had occurred in pricing since 2016. He noted that all the amounts are now in even dollars and everything is now similar between the nearby communities.

Two new charges added to the policy included a $25 fee for replacing swipe cards and a new cancellation fee of $25 for the Special Needs van.

“We hope it will deter people from booking the van then deciding they don’t need it when someone else could have used it,” said CAO Neill, adding there will be some discretion regarding this fee, for example, bad weather.

Councillors had a considerable debate on the amount of the increases and amended the suggested rates lower for hourly rates for the arena and fitness centre and the Drop-in rates prior to passing the policy which will come into effect May 1, 2023.

Electronic metering devices
Hanna council addressed concerns and questions from the public regarding whether the electronic metering devices installed on the streetlights have cameras installed on them, or future plans to have cameras installed, with a presentation from ATCO Electric.

Representatives from ATCO Electric explained radio frequency antennas were installed, “the same as a wifi router in your homes, or your phone in your pocket. No personal info is sent back and forth.”

The new electronic metering devices allow for faster response time, more accuracy and can help reduce costs and site visits.

“There are no cameras in street lights, no cameras in any devices, the green photo eye turns the lights on/off.”

2022 Audited Financial statements
Peter Stone, CPA, CA of Ascend Chartered Professional Accountants presented 2022 Audited Financial Statements stating, it was a ‘clean’ audit “very comparable to the previous years”.

Total revenues were up about $20,000 to $7,092,771 and expenses were $7,521,885.

“What would you say regarding our expenses versus income,” asked Coun. Vern Thuroo.

Stone responded, “You are not collecting more taxes that are needed to run the town.”

CAO report
Coun. Angie Warwick questioned whether public washrooms had ever been raised when Chief Administrative Officer Kim Neill gave his report on the Downtown Redevelopment Project.

“It has never been brought up as far as I can remember,” stated Neill adding the town does own some land however there are pros and cons to that including vandalism.

Marriage therapy
Michele Toews, in her report to council, noted the town will need to consider increasing their contribution to the Hanna Family Marriage Therapy program in order for the group to be able to sustain the level of coverage required.

The report noted the program has run for over 20 years, providing residents of Hanna and area with access to affordable local therapy options.  However in recent years, usage of the program has increased substantially from subsidies paid in 2020 totalling $7085 up to $25,200 in 2021 and to $40,815 in 2022.

The report noted that currently, the Town of Hanna provides $12,000 in funding annually. Special Areas, Starland County, Hanna Agricultural Society and Lynks also provide funding.

Toews’ report noted that the group is also continuing to look for alternate funding opportunities such as applying for grants that may be available and approaching community service clubs for donations to help offset the increase in usage.

“The good news is, this service is being used,” stated Neill adding an amendment will have to be made to the budget to cover an increase in their annual funding of the program.

Fire Department report
Fire Chief David Mohl was present with a quarterly report from the Hanna Fire Department noting that their roster is full with 30 members.

Between January and to end of March the department attended two vehicle fires, seven rescue/motor vehicle accidents, 13 medical assists, two miscellaneous calls and two false alarms.

Mohl updated council on grants and courses being offered.

He stated that newer training would have to occur as more and more battery-operated cars are in use.

“Lithium batteries are great, ’til they’re not,” stated Mohl. “you can’t put them out. You just let it burn to the ground,” adding the fire department’s role in these fires would only be to ensure other surrounding structures were prevented from catching fire. He added, even if you think you got the fire out, the batteries could re-ignite.

He stated fire departments would need to adapt. Electric cars are also over twice the weight so moving them away from other structures presents more issues.
“We went through this [a similar change in firefighting] with propane in the early ’90’s so we’ll adapt,” concluded Mohl.

Draft Land Use Bylaw
An extensive report, titled ‘What We Heard Report’ of all the input from the public regarding the Draft Land Use Bylaw was presented to council along with a summary of proposed changes and rationale.

Palliser Regional Municipal Services (PRMS) will provide an updated version 2 to bring back to council.

J. Webster
ECA Review


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