Morrin village council may earmark more money for future fire trucks

ECA Review/Submitted
Written by Stu Salkeld

The Village of Morrin council may put away more money every year for future fire truck replacement. The topic was discussed at the Jan. 18 regular meeting of council.

During the regular financial report of Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Annette Plachner, Mayor Chris Hall asked how much money the village transfers to reserves every year for future fire truck replacement, to which the CAO answered $5,000.

Plachner stated Starland County also places money in reserve.

Readers should note most municipalities place money in reserves for large future expenditures such as vehicles or infrastructure to avoid sudden large tax increases when the expenditure is needed.

Hall stated that at a recent meeting between village council and the Morrin Fire Department it was stated the department was interested in buying a new bush buggy firefighting unit priced at around $460,000.

The idea was discussed at length by council and eventually they agreed the fire department would likely have to fundraise to help pay that vehicle’s cost.

Councillors also discussed possibly increasing the village fire truck transfer from $5,000 to $10,000, but no resolution was made. The CAO pointed out inflation is causing the price of many things to climb.

Sewer maintenance

During Plachner’s financial report Coun. Lorraine MacArthur asked about a budget item called sewer repairs/maintenance, which had $25,000 set aside. MacArthur noted only $550 has been used.

Plachner answered that the money is set aside in case a sewer line requires unexpected repair. The CAO noted the money if unused can be rolled over to the next year.

Financial audit

Plachner reported the village’s audit will be conducted on Feb. 22 and 23. “That will tell the full story of where we sit,” said Plachner.

Coun. MacArthur asked what financial condition the village is in and Plachner responded the village’s finances are fine.

Unspent money

Plachner reported she’d been contacted by Municipal Affairs in Edmonton and notified that the Village of Morrin had $161,000 in unspent Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) grants dating from 2018, and that if the village didn’t use the money it would be returned to the provincial government.

Plachner stated the money will be spent on the following projects, which add up exactly to the said amount: water cistern rehab, fire hydrants and water main valves.

The CAO also noted the village has $64,000 in grants coming soon and councillors could think about how they want it spent.

Mayor Hall suggested waiting until spring and see what condition the roads are in.

School delay

The CAO reported that the new Morrin School, which was scheduled for completion at the end of January 2023, will not be completed until later. She quoted an email she received from the general contractor to the school division.

It was noted the project’s development permit, which was valid to the end of January 2023, will have to be renewed.

Seniors spots

Coun. M’Liss Edwards gave an update on the Drumheller and District Seniors Foundation, of which Morrin is a member. She stated the Sunshine Lodge expansion continues and is projected to be compete by July.

Edwards stated the rental rate for some of the units is expected to be $2,700 per month, which councillors expressed surprise at. Edwards noted meals and cable TV would be charged on top of the rent.

Campground update

Public Works Foreman Dave Benci gave an update on council’s interest in a municipal campground. He said the village may not need an engineer for a project like a campground so he’s arranged for an experienced contractor to visit Morrin and discuss the project.

Coun. MacArthur stated she would like to see the campground up and running by June.

Garbage truck update

Benci updated council on mechanical issues with the village garbage truck.

He stated the truck requires hydraulic work and the work can only be done in Lethbridge, but he’s still waiting on more information about how long the repair work will take as the village doesn’t have a back-up truck.

It was noted that if schedules allow, garbage can be picked up as usual, the truck taken to Lethbridge for repair and return before the next regularly scheduled pick-up.

Water valve

The foreman noted a pressure control valve at the water plant appears to be functioning properly, but its electronics may be experiencing a problem.

“It’s working, working fine,” said Benci. The foreman stated that when a power outage occurs the valve has issues. Benci noted there’s no point in replacing the valve if there’s nothing wrong with it.

He added the electronic problems is being investigated, but knows it’s not caused by cold as the room in question is heated.

Training required

Benci noted that many of his certifications require updating, including first aid, ground disturbance and others. He pointed out he’d also like to take training in Microsoft Excel as its more and more important to be familiar with that software and it’s possible for both he and the CAO to take the training together.

The foreman added that he’d like to take fall protection training, as he may be working in a cage.

Summer events

Mayor Hall asked Benci if outdoor power would be available for food trucks attending warm weather events in Morrin this spring and summer. Hall noted a car show in May and the homecoming in August.

Benci stated he would look into it as it shouldn’t be a problem, and also suggested an empty lot where the town shop used to sit. He said there should be enough room there for food trucks plus tables.

Coincidentally Benci noted it looks like someone with a front end loader scooped about a yard of gravel off the vacant lot in question.

Benci told council he would look into the vacant lot option for food trucks.

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.