County of Paintearth council went over their contract with Unified Energy at their regular council meeting on Tues. Sept. 15.
The county was in year four of their five-year contract with an expiration of Dec. 31, 2021.
Administration had been approached by the company to participate in the Rural Municipalities Association (RMA) public tender in which they can choose either a 3-year term or a 4-year term.
Council chose four years as prices are going up, ranging from 5.5 cents to 5.8 cents per kilowatt.
Hand sanitizer distribution
The question of where to give the recent purchase of bottles of hand sanitizer was brought to council for some discussion.
Spray bottles have become a hot commodity as the company who the county went through was only able to fulfill 1,740 bottles out of a requested 5,000.
The product was to be given out at various businesses for distribution within the county to encourage good hand hygiene for all residents given our current climate dealing with COVID-19.
Coun. Blumhagen had previously sent an email to the rest of the councillors back on July 24 proposing that $1 or $2 be asked for each of the bottles of sanitizer with the proceeds to go to the local food banks or the handi-bus.
The nominal fee of $1 or $2 is considerably cheaper than purchasing it in a store and a local store indicated that they were not opposed to selling ours especially if it went to a good cause.
A variety of places was mentioned from councillors on top of the local food banks like the schools in the area, Family and Community Support Services (FCSS), senior centres, hospitals and so on.
Council directed administration to come back with a distribution plan for the next council meeting.
The cost per bottle came in at $3.28 and included the cost of $300 for the county’s label that had to be submitted and meet requirements from Health Canada.
The total cost of the project was $5,996.97.
Long range financial plan
During strategic planning amongst council and staff, it was outlined in the strategic planning objective that a long term financial plan including an asset management plan would be completed by the end of 2021.
In discussions with other municipalities since then, they found that a long range financial plan would cost between $50,000 and $60,000 to hire a third-party consultant to complete the plan.
They would interview staff, councillors and other municipalities in the area and then review the budget and financial information, demographic trends, mill rates and so on.
This information would then be collected and brought back in a report which would include a five-year budget and recommendations for improving financial stability.
“I don’t know how anyone could in this time,” said Coun. Diane Elliott.
Council chose to table the matter for now as money has become tighter in recent years, especially with the changes of the pandemic.
Mine road closure
Westmoreland Mining submitted a road network they wished to close at the Paintearth Mine.
The main purpose of this was to provide landowner access to reclaimed lands within the mining area.
The company asked for council permission, which was granted at the regular meeting, to give the roads back to public roads.
The mine will survey and provide as-built road plans for all current and future roads that do not fall in a specified road allowance.
Councillors mentioned they were also okay with leaving the tunnel over Sec. Road #855 as is.