Town hall on budget crunch

 

The Village of Alix will hold an open town hall meeting to gather input from residents before deciding on the municipality’s upcoming budget, a budget with question marks surrounding it.

Councillors discussed the issue at their regular council meeting Mar. 4.

As the subject of budget came up, Coun. Vicki Soltermann told her peers that she felt not just a council meeting should be held for budget deliberations, but that a town hall style meeting should be held where residents can see issues facing the village and give their input.

One of the prime issues facing not just the Village of Alix but virtually all Alberta municipalities is the recent provincial government’s announcement of increased numbers of police officers, with the complication that those officers will be paid for directly by municipalities.

The announcement was received with surprise by some municipalities, as they had not factored this increased policing into their budgets.

Soltermann stated residents should at least get a chance to give their input on how the budget shortfall should be addressed.

She said a town hall meeting would be a way of “testing the waters.”

Councillors discussed the conundrum of whether cuts to other village departments should be made to cover the policing costs, approve an increase to the tax rate or a combination of both.

Village CAO Michelle White suggested a special council meeting to discuss budget, the first part of which would be a town hall meeting where the public could ask questions and offer input.

Mayor Rob Fehr noted that even though the budget town hall would have a single topic, there may be other members of the public who want to talk about other issues or air grievances.

It was suggested that each member of the public be limited to a few minutes to make their comments.

Councillors eventually decided to hold a special budget deliberation meeting opened by a budgetary public engagement session Apr. 8.

Land Use Bylaw 

CAO Michelle White presented the item to councillors, noting the updates mostly revolve around questions and items encountered by the village’s development officer Tanya Meston that aren’t directly addressed in this important bylaw

White said tweaks would also streamline the Land Use Bylaw (LUB) and make the process easier for applicants.

White noted council already spent quite a bit of time discussing RV’s in their traffic bylaw and White noted staff felt it was a good time to make the LUB fit with the traffic bylaw.

The proposed changes included details such as where an RV can be parked on a residential lot and other details such as an RV overhanging a boulevard.

A proposed change included an RV being used as temporary accommodation for not more than 30 days per year and a development permit is not required for that purpose.

Changes allow for a buffer between residential zones and zones like industrial that could contain dangerous goods.

A 50-meter buffer can be totally contained within the industrial zone.

Alix has two truck routes that handle dangerous goods, both on the north and south side of the highway.

Rules also apply to vehicles loaded with dangerous goods parked on the street, said White.

Fences and decks are also addressed in the land use bylaw.

White told councillors that more changes, more administrative in nature, maybe coming towards the end of summer.

Councillors passed first reading of the proposed LUB changes.

 

Stu Salkeld

Local Journalism initiative Reporter

ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

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.

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