There were three bylaws on the Hanna council meeting agenda on May 12.
The first, Bylaw 1008-2020, titled the Hanna Golf Club Loan Bylaw, was to have received second reading at this meeting.
The Golf Club had submitted a request for a loan to cover interim financing in the amount of $20,000 to assist with operating costs because of a potential late-season start-up due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Under Section 264 and 265 of the Municipal Government Act (MGA), a municipality may lend money to a non-profit organization if the loan is authorized by bylaw.
However, circumstances changed for the Golf Club as they applied for and received funding assistance from the Federal Government through a COVID-19 program, and the Hanna golf course was able to open May 9 and is receiving revenue through the purchase of memberships, punch cards, green fees and take away food services from the clubhouse.
CAO Neill acknowledged that many unknowns still exist in this Covid-19 crisis and the Province could change golf course regulations again dependent upon new Covid-19 outbreaks.
Neill continued by saying that, “In case things go sideways” and the club is required to shut down creating a situation where they generate little or no revenue and needs financial assistance later this summer, to avoid starting this bylaw process over from scratch, Council should delay second reading of this bylaw until the fall.
Neill stated that under Section 188 of the MGA bylaws may remain open for two years.
Hanna council unanimously agreed to leave Bylaw 1008-2020 open.
Hanna Roundhouse Society loan bylaw defeated
Hanna Roundhouse Society (HRS) requested an interest-free loan in the amount of $35,000 to assist the society with the costs of completing fire and building safety code improvements and their goal to host public assembly type events in the roundhouse.
The society is requesting a repayment period of five years for the loan.
Before the discussion started, Coun. Sandra Beaudoin asked if she was in conflict of interest wearing both hats as a council member and president of the Hanna Roundhouse Society.
CAO Neill clarified she was only in conflict of interest if she, or a member of her family, were to make financial gain from a decision of council.
Coun. Beaudoin explained background information on funding received for the restoration of the Hanna roundhouse which included loans repaid to Special Areas, grants from Alberta Heritage and the South Eastern Alberta Foundation and local fundraising and donations.
Beaudoin stated in 2020 two grant applications, the Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP} grant for $15,508 and the Co-op Community Spaces Grant for $20,000.
The society has agreed that if these grants are received a portion or all the loan can be paid back to the town immediately.
The town has provided the society with an operating grant since 2016 that is equivalent to the municipal portion of their property tax.
CAO Neill confirmed for council that the name on the title is The Hanna Round House Society.
Councillor Beaudoin stated no money raised by the society goes to any board members, and in fact society members have paid personal funds to make and install safety signage around the property.
Beaudoin said work needs to be completed on the roof and if funding does not permit the entire roof to be completed, the society will use what available funds they have and do a portion of the roof.
Beaudoin said before the roundhouse can be opened to the public fire safety work must be completed which is estimated to cost $50,000.
The society has permission to use porta-potties.
The motion was defeated 2 – 5 with Mayor Warwick and Coun. Beaudoin in favour and Councillors Campion, Deadlock, Jensen, Stickel and Olsen opposed.
Rate of taxation bylaw
Council passed the taxation bylaw to authorize an increase of one per cent for residential and a decrease of one per cent for non-residential for 2020 at their May 12 regular meeting.
The tax rate for residential and farmland is now 14.3031, non-residential is 18.3797 and designated industrial, .0760.
Designated industrial is a provincial tax that involves 11 properties and the increase is decided by the government on those properties.
CAO Neill, after studying test cases, reflected that 87 per cent of residential ratepayers should see a decrease in their tax invoice when compared with 2019.
Hanna audit goes smoothly
Jeff Faupel, CPA representing Endeavor Chartered Professional Accountants, appeared virtually to present an overview of the Audited Financial Statements for the year ending Dec. 31, 2019.
Total assets were $9.6M with liabilities at $2.8M.
Long term debt totals $308,000 with four years left for payout.
In 2019 Hanna’s excess revenue over expenses totalled $293,000.
Hanna’s total accumulated surplus is $36M, and most of that amount is capital ($29M) assets such as road, water/sewer systems, buildings, land, and equipment.
The remaining amount of surplus is invested in the bank, bonds, both private and government.
CAO Neill reported the Generation Capacity Building Program (CGCBP) committee continues to meet bi-weekly through conference call.
The Town of Hanna Virtual Power Plant Project proposes installing solar fields in the area, possibly near the Public Works yard, adjacent to the Hanna Arena (if land is available) or on the Truman Ford brownfield site on 2nd Ave. W.
Financial Modeling Plans are being finalized. The Town and Special Areas may see reduced power costs from this solar power.
It is anticipated that a business case presentation to the committee will be followed by a presentation to council and based on council’s direction, a public engagement process could follow.
CAO Neill, when questioned on how much of the Truman Ford property would be utilized, said there is concern because the land has environmental issues.
Neill also said there has been discussion regarding the Special Areas parking lot, turning it into covered parking with solar on top.
CAO Neill said that presently at the Sheerness site a private developer is driving that project forward and it is almost at the development permit stage.
This site may present opportunities for construction jobs and ultimately operating jobs. 2021 may be the year this project comes to fruition.
Construction is scheduled to commence in early June to upgrade residential roads including Winkler, Shacker, and Stephens Crescent.
Neill also reported that Special Areas and the town will work together to upgrade South Municipal Road where it intersects with Pioneer Trail.
Construction is scheduled to start mid-May.
CAO Neill said moving forward Hanna appears to be in a good position fighting the pandemic.
Conference calls are conducted on a regular basis with Special Areas, Three Hills, Drumheller and Stettler.
To date, Hanna has not declared a State of Local Emergency (SOLE) or opened the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC).
Regular meetings of the Hanna Senior Management Team and the Fire Chief monitor situations and if determined that it is necessary to declare a SOLE, that can be set up very quickly.
The opening of the EOC can occur at the discretion of the CAO or the Director of Emergency Management.
Laurie Armstrong, Director of Business and Communications, reported that the videos recorded by Dr. Fortna have proven to be a valuable communication tool.
Gwen Snell, Director of Community Services, reported that work on repairs and maintenance at the recreation facilities during this pandemic is well underway and when complete the crews will move outside to the cemetery (post marker program), playgrounds (signage), flower beds (planting) and parks (tree replacement and memorial benches).
Snell also reported that Fox Lake Park will open May 15 under Phase I of the Provincial Re-Launch Strategy.
Snell stated the province has set the rules. Overnight camping is for self-contained units only.
Shower buildings, washrooms, playgrounds are to remain closed.
Boat docks are open and available however, no motorized units are allowed on Helmer Dam.
CAO Neill reported that the Hanna Farmers’ Market plan to re-open May 20 in the curling rink if Phase I of the Provincial Re-Launch Strategy is adopted as planned.
Neill said determining what is ‘essential’ may affect vendor numbers and social distancing directives must be adhered to.
Coun. Larry Stickel reported that there have been no COVID-19 outbreaks at Acadia Lodge.
Seven rooms are presently vacant at the Lodge and even if the 14-day quarantine directives are adhered to, at this time no new seniors can move into Acadia Lodge.
Coun. Kyle Olsen reported that there is a plan to have the Spray Park built this summer.
Construction may take 8-10 weeks. Olsen did note that, at this time, the construction contract is not executed.
CAO Neill said if construction moves forward as scheduled, the weather is nice in late summer and the pandemic is under control there could be a soft opening of the Spray Park in late August or September to help iron out the kinks before the grand opening of the Hanna Spray Park scheduled for 2021.