Hanna Golf Course granted loan forgiveness

HANNA ECA Review/Terri Huxley
Written by Terri Huxley

Tyler Price, a Director for the Hanna Municipal Golf Course Association, presented at Hanna’s council information meeting asking for the opportunity to have the association’s remaining loan payment be forgiven.

This $566,100 loan pertains to the money given for the 2006 expansion, taking the nine-hole course to 18.

The association has since had many significant capital and operating expenditures that need to take place soon and forgiveness of the remaining loan amount outstanding would provide a start for the association to begin to undertake necessary improvements.

This includes the construction of a new maintenance shed/workshop and the needed replacement of six of 10 pieces of critical ground equipment.

It was anticipated these funds would be reimbursed in full within 10 years and the club as of this month still has an outstanding balance of $68,000.

The land the golf course is developed on is owned by the Town of Hanna and leased to the club.

The funds had been approved by council and were provided by the Special Areas Board through a recreation grant advance.

The $566,100 was provided to the club and Special Areas reduced their annual recreation grant to the town by $56,610 annually for a 10-year period.

This reduction from the recreation grant was completed in the year 2013 and in 2014 the recreation grant provided by the Special Areas Board to the Town of Hanna was increased by $56,610 annually.

Prior to the project being undertaken in 2005, the association indicated that they were promised $575,000 in provincial funding toward the expansion but for various reasons the association only received $217,000 leaving a shortfall of $358,000.

In hindsight, the association indicated that had they known the provincial funding was not going to arrive as promised they most likely would not have moved forward with the project.

The association has operated the Hanna Golf Course since it opened and the town’s only contribution to the course and its operation annually is the insurance payment for the clubhouse for $2,333.66 in 2020.

Council, at their regular meeting on March 9 via video conferencing, were asked to make a decision as to what direction to take.

Coun. Sandra Beaudoin suggested an amendment to the recommended motion to forgive the club for $68,000, instead asking to have the club pay off the remaining balance over a 10 year period with no interest attached.

The panel ultimately chose to defeat this motion in a 2 – 5 vote, passing a second motion to forgive the loan of $68,000, removing the amount owing from the account receivable ledger in a 5 – 2 vote.

Coun. Beaudoin and Coun. Gerald Campion were in favour of the first motion and opposed to the second.

“A one-time loan forgiveness is in order in these times,” said Coun. Melanie Jensen. “I mean you hope that it wouldn’t be a reoccurring thing but if we ran it we would be up for more fiscal responsibility.”

Reservoir fish stocking

Council was asked to send a letter of support to Alberta Fish and Wildlife indicating their interest in the CN Reservoir fish stocking project as consideration of adding this as another amenity to the area.

Coun. Campion asked what the Roundhouse Society’s interest in this project entailed which Coun. Beaudoin answered that there was no financial or personal gain to be had but they do possess some land beside the reservoir and hope to possibly acquire fishing licenses as a non-profit society that allows free fishing for anyone who wishes to use the facility.

Future fishing derbies may be in the cards as well.

Coun. Campion asked to ensure that the fish get established in the water body first before allowing the Roundhouse to host a fishing derby.

This project would be similar to Helmer Dam in that the town would stock the water body each year until a presence is established.

Council passed a motion to send a letter of support.

Development Incentive Policy

Administration brought forward an umbrella policy designed to put unwritten procedure on paper to solidify these actions.

Council in the fall of 2019 directed administration to research potential tax incentive program options.

In anticipation of implementing this, council allocated $10,000 in the 2020 Operating Budget toward these funds.

Three key areas were included in this year’s 2021 operating budget for a total of $26,000; a tax incentive at $10,000, a storefront incentive at $6,000 and a demolition incentive at $10,000.

The policy was developed using examples from around the province and input from the municipalities in the region.

The general make-up of the policy is that it is not prescriptive but rather general to encourage and engage requests from developers in a one-on-one partnership, as each request may be different.

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Kim Neill shared that the unspoken rule of following a case-by-case basis was still intact but now in policy form.

The components can be accessed by new development as well as existing properties, thus existing taxpayers get a benefit from incentives and are not left out or seen to be funding new development.

Council accepted this policy as presented.

Farmers Market subsidy

The Hanna Farmers Market Committee has asked to host their weekly markets at the curling rink from the beginning of June to the end of September.

Council passed a motion to enter into an agreement with the committee at a subsidized rate of $324 plus tax per day.

CAO Neill noted that administration has been trying to get the farmer’s market to reach full rates over time. This time the town has chosen to go with an 80 per cent recovery rate, subsidizing 20 per cent.

Library board appointment

The Hanna Municipal Library Board has welcomed their newest member, Peggy Sauter for a three-year term.

Administration did add that more positions are still available.

Council also accepted this appointment.

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Fast forward to 2020, she has won second in the same category for the AWNA.