Hanna fighting for Grants in Lieu of Taxes

Council authorized Hanna Mayor Chris Warwick to write a letter to the Premier of Alberta and the Ministers of Municipal Affairs and Seniors expressing disappointment with the decision to eliminate the Grant in Lieu of Taxes Program for government owned social housing, because of the financial burden that has been downloaded on the municipality at their regular council meeting on Tues., Apr. 12.

According to CAO Kim Neill’s report to council, as part of the 2015 Alberta government budget tabled by the Progressive Conservative government prior to the May 2015 provincial election, a decision was made to eliminate this municipal grant.

Neill went on to report that the Town of Hanna received $60,269 through this program in 2014 and based on increased assessment of the affected properties, would have received revenue of $64,031 in 2015.

While it is understood that there are difficult economic times in Alberta, Neill stated, it was disappointing to find this cost down loaded to the municipal governments.

The other disconcerting issue was the way this decision was communicated, Neill continued. At no time during the lead up to the budget was there any communication or consultations with the municipalities or their respective associations that this was being considered; nor during the release of the budget was there any communication or mention of this decision and its impact on municipalities.

Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) lobbied extensively to the provincial government in 2015 in the hopes that this funding could be re-instated for the 2015-16 provincial budget or possibly the 2016-17 provincial budget.

According to Neill, at the recent AUMA Mayor Caucus in Edmonton on March 9 and 10, 2016 the Minister of Municipal Affairs was asked if the government was reconsidering this position in lieu of the upcoming provincial budget. The response from the Minister was that it was not being reconsidered and funding was not included in upcoming 2016-17 provincial budget.

AUMA has asked municipalities to continue to express their disappointment with this decision and to continue to advocate and lobby the Province for the re-instatement of this funding.

Neill stated that currently the Town of Hanna’s 2016 operating budget does not reflect this funding but if it was re-instated it would provide the town with approximately $60,000 that would be very beneficial to the town’s bottom line.

Hanna receives clean audit
Jeff Faupel of Endeavor Chartered Accountants reported to Hanna council that the 2015 audited financial statements were “clean and in accordance with applicable accounting standards,” during their regular meeting on Tues., Apr. 12.

New pumper
At the May 12, 2015 council meeting, a resolution was passed to approve the proposal from Rocky Mountain Phoenix for the supply of one Rosenbauer Top Mount Enclosed Smart Cab Pumper with a mid-ship pump at their tendered price of $505,413.

This pumper was funded by an Alberta Community Partnership Program grant in the amount of $350,000 with Special Areas contributing $77,706.50 and Town of Hanna contributing of $77,706.50.

The pumper for the Hanna Fire Department is expected to arrive and be in operation in July of 2016.

Once this new unit is in operation the town’s current 1986 Ford F800 pumper truck will be surplus to the Town of Hanna.

On April 12, Council approved the sale of the Town of Hanna’s 1986 Ford F800 pumper truck to the Village of Empress in the amount of $7,000 plus GST subject to conditions such as; transfer will not take place until the new pumper truck has arrived in Hanna and is put into operation, the truck is sold in an as is condition with no warranties or guarantees of condition and the funds from the sale of the truck are to outfit the new pumper truck with all of the required loose equipment or towards the construction/development of the training/burn tower.

The Village of Empress has approached the Town of Hanna with an offer to purchase the surplus 1986 Ford F800 pumper truck for $7,000.

The Village indicated this unit would provide the Village fire department with the opportunity to have a fire apparatus with the capability of storing all of the hose required to defend an operating fire.

Currently the Village fire fleet does not have that capability and use an old van to store and haul the hoses.

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