Morrin council waits on 2nd Ave. south upgrades, cites budget issues

Written by Stu Salkeld

Morrin village council has set aside proposed upgrades to one of their streets, citing a tight budget in 2022. The decision to table the issue of 2nd Ave. south upgrades was made at the April 20 regular meeting.

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Annette Plachner presented a report on infrastructure upgrades for 2nd Ave. south.

Plachner stated replacing the infrastructure for 2nd Ave. south was not a pressing need and doesn’t need to be done immediately.
She suggested the work could wait until 2023 or 2024.
Coun. Lorraine MacArthur agreed, adding “…because we don’t have the money to do it this year.”

Councillors unanimously tabled the issue of 2nd Ave. south upgrades to a future meeting.

Return to gravel
Councillors heard a report from Plachner about a Starland County proposal to return a certain road to gravel, specifically a section of Rge Rd 20-3 (from Main Street to the intersection with 1st Street north) that belongs to the village and is maintained by the county.

Plachner stated Starland County Public Works approached the village about returning that piece of road to gravel so that it would be easier to maintain, and the county would charge Morrin $50,000 to do that work.

Plachner also stated no written request was received from the county and Coun. McArthur stated she’d like to see a proposal in writing.

Public Works Foreman Dave Benci stated there are several issues with that piece of road, including the village has no equipment that could maintain it and that village residents don’t seem to use that section of road very much.

Mayor Chris Hall balked at the cost, noting that section of road is used by many heavy trucks, including Starland County trucks. He suggested a 50/50 village/county cost sharing, or tendering the project. Plachner stated she’d contact Starland County to get something in writing.

Request to help
Coun. M’Liss Edwards asked that an item be added to the agenda, a request from Mayor of Delia David Cecily that Morrin, Delia and the Village of Munson “…coordinate on some things.”

Later, as councillors discussed the request, Edwards explained the CAO of Delia had apparently resigned and Delia’s mayor was apparently looking for some help.

McArthur stated Morrin has had troubles of its own and wondered if Morrin should get involved in other community’s issues. CAO Plachner said, “I don’t think so.”

Councillors discussed a few different ideas, including a shared CAO and more coordination between the villages’ Public Works departments.
Plachner noted however, that Morrin’s recent help with Delia’s water testing did affect Morrin’s local work.

It was noted no written request was received from Delia.
Edwards stated she would talk to Delia’s mayor to request something in writing.

Tax recovery
Plachner stated she’ll soon begin work on the village’s tax recovery process, which includes sale of properties with unpaid property taxes to recover those debts.

The CAO asked councillors if the former Gas Plus location should be included. The CAO reported that location has attracted some interest from buyers because of things like the quonset but also has a contamination issue.

Councillors discussed how a tax recovery would be affected by the contamination, whether the village should acquire the property or whether the property could be rented.

Councillors asked Plachner to contact the provincial government to see what options the village has in this situation and report back at a future meeting.

2022 budget
Plachner reported she hasn’t received the audited financial statements from the accountant, and so no draft budget was available to discuss.
However, she did report that the village got its provincial policing bill for 2022, which is $6,101, up from $4,000 the previous year. She added it looks like the cost will also go up next year.

Councillors also discussed the $50,000 grant the Village of Morrin pledged for the new Morrin school project, which will be paid in two $25,000 instalments.

Coun. Edwards stated she’d heard the school construction bid was just awarded and it’s hoped the school will be ready for the start of the 2024 school year.

Public Works report
Public Works Foreman Benci gave his regular report, beginning by expanding on a previous suggestion of his: talking to his counterparts in surrounding communities about a possible “back-up” plan to cover each other’s communities in case a Public Works employee is away from work.
Benci also stated working together may allow the communities to do business with each rather than, for example, paying for services from Calgary.

He reported the emergency water pump was installed and commissioned and is running well. He explained to councillors the pump is necessary for fire hydrant use, as the standard pump can’t run a hydrant and supply the village at the same time.

He also reported on the previous emergency pump equipment the village was hoping to recover some money on.

Benci stated he advertised it online for $1,000 and received no interest; he may reduce the price or contact recyclers. Councillors accepted his report for information.

Library mix-up
McArthur reported, as a member of the library board, the provincial government contacted them to clarify the appointment of board members.

Apparently, it wasn’t clear in the village minutes whether the board members had been appointed.

Plachner gave a rundown of when the board members had been appointed. Councillors approved a motion to re-appoint all the board members to ensure there were no problems.

Spring clean-up
Councillors heard several reports on the village’s upcoming spring cleanup weekend.

Public Works Foreman Benci reported he found a waste management bin supplier who charged much less than other suppliers, somewhere around one-fifth of the cost.

It was also noted the grand opening of Morrin Pioneer Park along with a fire department fundraising barbecue, a show and shine and a community garage sale is being planned.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.