New provincial budgeting impacts

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Kim Neill stated that since the Provincial budget has been delivered, Hanna “now has a road map” with how to proceed.

One of the greatest challenges is a drop in available dollars.

Neill said, “With less money, Hanna will do less. Major projects may take a longer time.”

Neill continued saying the province introduced budget restraints as Alberta is spending $5 million a day in debt interest.

Highlights of the 2019/20 impacts to the Town of Hanna include the MSI Operating remaining the remaining close while the MSI Capital is anticipated to be reduced by 14 per cent.

Grants in lieu of taxes are anticipated to be reduced by 24 per cent; the  Summer Temporary Employment Program is terminated, and the share of police fines is reduced by 13 per cent.

Discussions on the Police Costing Model indicate a change to the original formula, 50 per cent assessment and 50 per cent population.

If this program [Police Costing Model] goes ahead it may be phased in to lessen the initial financial burden to municipalities. Neill said that the Minister of Justice and the Solicitor General will decide on the police costing model for Alberta Municipalities prior to Jan. 2020.

There is also the potential loss of funding to the Parent Link Programs throughout the province.

Neill stated the dollar costs of these 2019/20 highlights will impact the Town of Hanna by approximately $100,000 not factoring in potential increased dollars for policing.

On the positive side, Neill noted that Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) and library funding will remain at 2018 levels.

Rebranding Costs ineligible

The newly announced Community & Regional Economic Support Program (CARES) announced by the Province of Alberta, Neill said rebranding costs are clearly listed as ineligible

Hanna was looking at rebranding the Town of Hanna including signage, vehicle logos, town entrance sign, et cetera.

Neill also shared with council members the information that representatives from Cactus Corridor, the Hanna Learning Centre and the Town of Hanna are to meet to see if there are any projects that may fit the guidelines.

Grant applications update 

Director of Community Services Gwen Snell echoed funding concerns noting that a grant for Stage Hanna has been approved for curtains in the Community Centre but Minor Hockey’s application for arena flooring and sound system was denied.

Snell said this is the second time the Minor Hockey application has been turned down.

Snell had hoped this grant would be made available to Hanna because  Hanna is a community impacted by the transition from coal-fired generation of electricity to natural gas.

Two water main breaks 

Director of Public Works Brent Olesen reported that over the Remembrance Day weekend there were two water main breaks on 2nd Ave.

Olesen noted that Hanna’s community spirit shone when the Hanna Peewee hockey team surprised the workers with donuts and later, in the wee hours of Sunday morning, when the Pedersen brothers brought hot coffee to the workers.

Many others made offers of food and beverages throughout the weekend.

Community Service Grant

Hanna Council unanimously approved the recommendation from the Community Services Board to award the 2019 Community Services Grant in the amount of $3,000 to the Hanna Dance Association (HDA) to assist with the cost of new flooring in their two dance studios.

HDA registration numbers remain consistent from year to year, averaging just over 100 dancers of a wide age range.

HDA has been able to obtain specialized dance flooring locally.

They have done fundraising events in support of the project such as bake sales, BBQ’s and a clothing drive for Value Village that provides funding based upon donated weight.

Snell reported that of special note, the Hanna High School football team, who were off school as it was Fall Break, went into the dance studio and removed the old flooring to help reduce costs for the HDA.

Five development permits

Director of Protective Services Adrian Mohl reported that five development permits totalling $60,000 have been applied for in Oct./Nov. 2019.

Two of the applications were for ‘change in use’ for a new pub and a cannabis retail store. The other three applications were for a home taxidermy business, a home spa service and a residential renovation.

Hanna payphone removal

Telus Communication advised by letter that the last payphone within Hanna is being removed from the TC Food Store location on or before Oct. 11, 2019.

The reason given for this removal is that usage has fallen well below the minimum requirements.

Uncollectables

Council agreed to authorize administration to declare six utility accounts in the amount of $1,140.69 and five other receivables at $334.25 as uncollectable and remove the books. Neill said administration has followed procedures to obtain the funds but determined that they are uncollectable due to a business closure and sale, a bankruptcy, the sale of properties or relocation to another community.

The Town of Hanna has budgeted $2,500 for bad debts and these eleven accounts total $1,400.

Neill noted there have been informal discussions administratively about changing water and sewer bills to a monthly billing to make the amount owed more manageable for property owners.

Currently, bills come out bi-monthly, so if a property owner falls behind on a couple of billings the amount of money owed can become great.

Councillor Beaudoin asked if there was any method of putting accounts online so property owners could regularly check account balances.

Beaudoin also suggested going to a paperless billing system. Laurie Armstrong, Director of Business and Communication, said that at the present time, with the Municipal Accounting Package Hanna uses, putting accounts online is not an option, but residents can receive their bill electronically through their e-mail.

Waste collection contract expiring Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Kim Neill reported to Hanna council at their regular meeting on Nov. 12 that the current waste collection contract expires at the end of 2019.

Neill’s intent is to bring a recommendation for a new three-year waste collection contract to the Dec. 10 Hanna council meeting.

 

Eileen Morrill

ECA Review

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