Paintearth council learned at their regular meeting Tues. April 21 smartphone app may soon be available to residents and people anywhere.
They hope to use this as a new free tool for increasing effective communication directly with ratepayers.
Notifications like emergencies, road work and construction and even community-wide programs and events are said to be top of mind.
Other municipalities within the county like Coronation and Castor were ‘strongly interested’ in this.
The only catch has been a certain amount of people are required to make it happen.
For $2,900 a year for the first 4,000 users and then 50 cents for each user afterwards would be the cost quoted from Voyant Alert.
All Net came with an estimate of $4,990 per year with a cap of 10,000 users.
Council approved the item by hiring Voyant Alert, noting the beneficial step towards more direct communication with ratepayers.
“It’s a really good thing. Way better communication,” said Dep. Mayor Doreen Blumhagen.
The county will enter into an agreement with ICEsoft Technologies to develop the app.
“We want as many people to download it as possible,” added Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michael Simpson.
Slow down signage
County of Paintearth resident Ian Land asked for signage be put out at his home signalling for vehicles, particularly some speedy neighbours, to slow down.
He has young children that often play in the yard but he wanted there to be some kind of signage to have people slow down and “ensure that proper attention is paid by drivers” said his letter to council.
“Currently, several vehicles fly by at 80+km/hour and we want them to slow down to ensure that no one gets hurt or killed,” he said.
Land mentioned that he had spoken with one neighbour in previous years about their driving habits but found no progress has been made hence why he made a request to council.
Council asked Colm Fitz-Gerald, the Community Peace Officer (CPO) for the county if a patrol to record speeds would help in determining the seriousness of the issue.
“Estimating speed is an extremely delicate art,” said Fitz-Gerald. He noted that the patrols take several days and that not everyone is qualified to do this task either.
He offered instead to speak with the involved parties to get to the bottom of the situation.
No school bus signs have been installed yet as the children are not old enough to attend school.
Although signage can work partially, county staff mentioned the effectiveness of orange children silhouettes that are more eye-catching to drivers, making them slow down.
“You can pick them out right away,” agreed Coun. George Glazier via teleconference call.
At the next county meeting, Fitz-Gerald will come back with his findings including what the residents thought of possibly installing these silhouettes.
Council received the letter as information and directed the CPO to meet with the ratepayer about appropriate signage and what the situation involves.
Mill rate bylaw
Council approved the mill rate bylaw which authorizes the levy against assessable property for the 2020 year.
It had already passed in their budget at the last meeting with a two per cent increase for the municipal mill rate but must also be passed in a bylaw.
Taxes may go up or down depending on a person’s home assessment, if they have done any renovations or major upgrades last year that would increase the value of the home.
The public school foundation fund figures were re-worked since the provincial government has reversed the initial increase. They chose to stick with 2019 numbers.
Minimum tax amount is still set at $50.
The municipal mill rate is set for 4.79832 per cent while farmland is at 10.32077 per cent.
Non-residential and linear tax rates are at 14.29614.
“Overall, I think the thing that will stand out is that despite the fact that we still have to do the education requisition, a deferral is in place,” said CAO Simpson.
“It’s a two per cent increase in mill rate, not taxes,” added Reeve Stan Schulmeister.
“If we did not increase the mill rate we would be at a loss so we have to try to balance the budget rather than go backwards and borrow from operating reserves,” said Simpson.
Council passed all three readings in one sitting.
Bryce Cooke, director of public works, gave a quick update on Weber Bridge, saying the county had received seven tenders ranging from $893,900 to $1,561,120.
The lowest bid at $893,900 belongs to Formula AB Ltd. which council carried a motion to give them the project as it was $107,000 under budget.
Work is scheduled to be completed Oct. 31, 2020 with a planned start date in August.
During that time the road will be closed.
Cooke also had many ‘good’ applications for a new welder.
He said they would have someone hired by next week.
They will have plenty of work to do as the welding shop line up is starting to stack up with projects
In other news, Director of Community Services, Todd Pawsey noted that CanWest Solar had contacted the county inquiring about possibly establishing a solar photovoltaic project within the area.
He said they are currently in the preliminary stage of reviewing potential sites across Alberta including Paintearth.
Environmental Services Director, Jeff Cosens noted that strychnine orders which began selling on March 31, has seen roughly 39 cases sold already.
Cosens also revamped the agriculture website.