Town of Bashaw residents may see some relief on a utility bill after town council voted to cut a franchise fee by one per cent. The decision was made at the Oct. 1 regular meeting of council held in the community centre to meet pandemic guidelines.
Town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Theresa Fuller presented councillors with a report on Fortis Alberta’s franchise fee, which the utility line company charges customers on behalf of a municipality.
Fuller noted in her report the fee can be set at whatever a municipality likes, and Fortis forwards the revenue on to municipalities.
She stated Bashaw currently has a franchise fee of three per cent and for 2020 the town received $23,987 in revenue that goes into the general coffers.
Coun. Rob McDonald proposed reducing the franchise fee from three per cent to two per cent as he said he was not a fan of franchise fees.
“It comes directly out of (resident’s) pockets,” said McDonald.
Coun. Rosella Peterman wasn’t opposed to a reduction but if finances in the future require it to be increased back to what it was, it could be confusing for people.
Mayor Penny Shantz stated she also would like to see it reduced if the town could afford it.
McDonald’s motion to reduce the Fortis Alberta franchise fee from three per cent to two per cent was unanimously passed by council.
Information provided in the agenda package revealed some franchise fees in Alberta are as low as Bruderheim’s zero per cent to Blackfalds’ 20 per cent.
Happy Gang windows
Fuller presented councillors with a letter from the Buffalo Golden Age Club requesting the town’s help in installing new windows in the Happy Gang Centre, “due to the wooden frames being rotten.”
The letter included three quotes the club had gathered from Bashaw company Nickel Glass, C.R. Glass in Stettler and Crystal Glass in Camrose and it was noted the estimates were for four windows.
However, Fuller pointed out that if that many windows were going to be replaced, the town may want to consider replacing all of them, or at least inspecting them.
Public Works foreman Murray Holroyd agreed, and stated he had already approached a contractor to examine all of the Happy Gang Centre windows and report back.
Fuller stated the report will be given to councillors at a future meeting.
Councillors verbally completed a survey from the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association into to give the AUMA information to report to the provincial government about crime and policing.
Councillors noted a few times while giving answers they were not entirely sure they were answering them correctly.
Holroyd provided councillors with an update on skating ice in the arena. He stated the ice plant was started on Sept. 22 and staff were able to begin making ice the next day with the ice getting it’s coat of white paint on Friday.
However, due to an oil leak the #2 compressor quit on Sept. 28. The compressor was repaired and running again by end of day. He estimated lines should be placed on the ice by Oct. 2.
Fuller presented councillors with a report on the Lighting Implementation Grant, which the town was approved for. It would apply to the arena and curling rink.
She noted the total light replacement project would cost $40,780, with the LIG covering $29,334.75. “The town would be responsible for $11,454.25,” stated Fuller’s report. She went on to note the town has a Federal Gas Tax Grant that would cover the town’s portion.
Councillors unanimously agreed to proceed with applying for the grant. They also asked Fuller to look into options for the old lights, many of which appear to be in serviceable condition.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter