Resident asks for reimbursement of utility expense

Alix resident Louie Humbke came to council on Wed. May 15 regarding a water line that had frozen a couple of months ago.

At the time, he contacted village staff about the problem and within a day they came and “did the best that they could”.

As many village bylaws outline, any pipework that is under private property is the responsibility of the owner while anything underneath public property is the village’s responsibility.

In this situation, it was public property.

The village foreman asked Humbke if he had a place to stay while they waited for the pipe to unfreeze.

For two months while the pipe was slowly thawing, Humbke lived in his rental property while paying for utilities in both homes for the duration of March and April.

There were basic service charges for sewer and water for these months but no consumption was actually used during that time. From the resident’s perspective, he was not informed by any staff members to keep receipts for water.

“If you don’t have water I feel it is inhabitable,” said Humbke. “I had to vacate. I went up to my commercial residence so I could shower, use the toilet.”

He asked for council’s consideration to reimburse his utility expenses for March and April while he was unable to live in his main residence during that time.

Administration will be in touch with the resident when they gather all background information necessary to the situation.

Operating budget

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White gave a highlighted report of the 2019 operating budget.

Council was pleased with the results as it has been “a step in the right direction”.

“We’ve come a long ways in a short time,” said Mayor Rob Fehr.

They passed the multi-year capital budget with one amendment to include $50,000 for road and sidewalk work as well as some other adjustments.

Since Alberta’s economy has taken a downturn, this has been reflected in assessments so tax bills for Alix residents will be lower.

The mill rate has stayed relatively the same but assessments are down by $35,371 which will be seen on tax bills as a decrease in taxes.

The Alberta School Requisition amount is based on prior years as the provincial budget will not be released in the fall due to the election.

Water has been a contentious issue for some time after a large leak was found a couple of years ago, draining the village’s water budget significantly.

Since then, they have been billing for less water.

Before their last meeting, there were three water main breaks within the village, losing roughly 1,900 cubic metres of water.

Public Works has been diligent in keeping an eye out for damp spots if they arise as they could mean a potential break.

They are comparing the last three months of last year to the first three months of this year and “we are seeing up on our water lass by almost double,” said CAO White.

Their bulk water supply has been successful so CAO White expects more revenue from this source.

Water insurance has risen from $3,000 to $5,000 while sewer insurance also rose $200 from $2,400 to $2,600.

All of the village’s water metres are no longer under warranty so more have been ordered as replacements.

“We only have a couple on the shelf so we’ve got to order some more water meters in case we need to do a sudden change out,” said CAO White.

A significant drop from an estimated $40,000 in revenue to $24,000 under the County fire reimbursement came from what village administration expects from the county.

“We’ve found that they are fluctuating very much. We had $63,000 in revenue one year and $12,000 revenue the next year so it all depends on the billable incidents that our fire department responds to and we have no control over what those numbers are so I didn’t want to artificially inflate it,” said CAO White.

The arena insurance was also noticeably down by $3,000 from the year before, prompting the CAO to double and triple check that the information was accurate.

This was confirmed from the insurance company, giving the village an extra $3,000 to work with rather than allocating it to this expense.

Traffic control bylaw passes third reading

With a swift three motions from council, the traffic control bylaw has officially been passed.

Over several meetings, councillors worked on an in-depth portion of the bylaw one part at a time.

One change was applied to the restrictions surrounding RV’s.

RV’s will only have 30 days to be parked in one location over a one year period in order to prevent someone from using it as a secondary or primary residence on their property.

The only issue councillors found during their discussion was the use of a trailer or RV when someone is building or renovating their home.

The village, along with other communities, does allow this if those residents have the proper development permit which allows them to use their unit as a temporary residency.

With the bylaw passed, no one is allowed to park any trailer in front or in a side yard unless they are parked at least 4.5 metres (15 feet) from an intersection or are on private property including a homeowner’s lawn.

Keep in mind that any RV on a public street has 72 hours to be moved or are deemed abandoned.

“As long as it’s on your property wholly and not sticking out somewhere and not blocking sightlines I would be okay with that too,” said Coun. Vicki Soltermann.

School zones are now changing to playground zones within Alix.

This includes the MAC School which will now have a playground zone at 30 kilometres per hour from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. every day, with the intention of eliminating public confusion.

Council also directed administration to contact Lacombe County to see about conducting some education processes and giving ticket leniency for the first month to allow residents time to adjust and understand the new changes.

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

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