Interim budgets passed

HANNA ECA Review/Terri Huxley
Written by Terri Huxley

Hanna town council accepted their interim three year operating budget and five year capital budget for information during their final regular council meeting of 2020 on Tues. Dec.8.

Minutes from three special meetings held on Nov. 18, Nov. 24 and Dec. 2 were passed as well.

After these meetings, administration prepared the budgets based on council’s direction for approval.

Deficits are expected for the next three years beginning with a $8,713 deficit in 2021, $35,112 deficit in 2022 and a $260,118 deficit in 2023.

No municipal tax increase is expected.

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Kim Neill explained that amendments may be made between now and May when the official budget is passed as funding is ‘iffy’.

“We want to be as transparent as possible and if there is something we missed throughout our three meetings, certainly anything can be changed,” said Neill.

He added that since the pandemic began, administration has been through three or four iterations of budgets to keep up with the changes already.

“COVID could throw another wrench into our spring plans,” said Neill.

Regional emergency management plan

Municipalities across the Palliser Regional Municipal Services district are slowly bringing resources together through the enactment of a new bylaw.

The Regional Emergency Management Bylaw will form the foundation of the Regional Emergency Management Plan and Program.

The first step in establishing the Regional Emergency Management committee and agency is the adoption of this bylaw by the regional project partners.

In the fall of 2019, the Special Areas Board initiated the Regional Emergency Management Planning Project where this project was designed to build a Regional Emergency Management Plan (REMP) from the ground up with all the stakeholders involved in a collaborative process.

The outcome at the end of the project is to have everyone speaking the same language and working off a comprehensive and effective plan in the face of a disaster or serious emergency situation.

The stakeholders in the REMP include the town of Hanna, Special Areas, Youngstown, Oyen, Consort, Acadia and Empress.

Following the approval by all stakeholders, the next steps will be the review of the formal Regional Emergency Management Plan and confirmation of the Regional Resource Sharing Agreement.

Council passed all three readings of the bylaw.

COVID restrictions response

In response to the new announcement made on Dec. 8 regarding the state of Alberta and the new measures put in place to reduce numbers. 

Masks have been mandatory indoors and all public buildings such community halls, arenas and curling rinks are closed for at least a month.

There has also been a push for working from home if possible.

For Hanna, CAO Neill noted the Centennial Place, the Community Centre and more will be closed as of Sun. Dec. 13.

Part time employees will be laid off.

Closed session items

Council entered into a closed session where they discussed a couple of different topics.

The first was a legal matter where council authorized the Mayor and CAO to enter into the agreement with the City of Red Deer for the provision of fire dispatch services for a five year term ending Dec. 31, 2025.

As for the land matter, council authorized the Mayor and CAO to accept an offer to purchase from Dumi Holdings for the purchase of Lots 25 & 26, Block 10, Plan 6133 AW (106 & 108 – 1st Avenue West) in the amount of $18,760 per lot, acknowledging that the condition of the property is being purchased “as is”.

Support for community viability 

The Province of Alberta has a funding program called the Alberta Community Partnership (ACP) Grant.

The objective of the inter-municipal collaboration component is to promote municipal viability by providing support to partnerships of two or more municipalities to develop or enhance regional municipal service delivery plans and frameworks, including establishing regional service delivery efficiencies.

By having regional service delivery plans and frameworks in place, municipalities lay the foundation to move from concept to reality.

The plans and frameworks will ensure that roles and responsibilities have been defined; participating municipalities are on board with the next step and the partnership knows what it will take in time and resources to get their project off the ground. 

Palliser Regional Municipal Services (PRMS) are planning to apply for grant funding through the Alberta Community Partnership Program under the Intermunicipal Collaboration component.

Hanna council passed a motion to participate in the application.

Since the 2013 PRMS Strategic Plan there has been a gradual shift in planning and GIS needs of municipalities.

As such, PRMS feels this is a great opportunity to utilize provincial funding to complete a new strategic plan with the assistance of an experienced consultant. 

PRMS began a strategic plan in 2020 but it fell to the wayside due to staff turnover, statutory documents and other projects that took precedence. 

Acquiring grant funding for this project would allow PRMS to acquire the resources needed to complete a strategic plan and review the funding model while ensuring that staff can continue to focus on serving the needs of  members.

Further, grant funding will expand the scope of the project to explore creating new strategies and efficiencies in service delivery, developing a long-term GIS strategy and looking at completing a new communications plan.

The Village of Acme will be the managing partner of this grant application, however as part of the grant application and to strengthen the application, PRMS is seeking support from the other member municipalities. 

Board appointment

Council approved the appointment of Sam Lockhart as a member of the Community Services Board for a three-year term ending Oct. 31, 2023.

The prior advertisement seeking applicants for 2020 noted there were four vacancies on the Community Services Board, however one of the applications received prior to the organizational meeting was thought to be from an applicant living a significant distance from the Town of Hanna and that applicant was not considered for a board appointment as a result.

Since then, Lockhart has recently purchased a property in town.