Trident, a natural gas company with a rich history in Kneehill County, came to council in search of property tax relief as they continue to lose revenue.
The company spends $1.6 million a year in property taxes to the county.
They came to Kneehill County Chambers as a delegation on Tues. Oct. 23 and requested a 20 per cent decrease in property taxes with the promise of brighter days ahead where this tax reduction will no longer be needed.
Since the company’s inception, they have invested over $100 million in capital investment with 183 wells currently producing in the area.
It was a grim subject as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alan Withey and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Rob Will presented, accompanied by a slideshow to show the depths of their problems.
Low gas prices, declining production base, operating costs like field services, and property tax rates, things they have no control over, have all taken a hit to the Calgary based business.
Property taxes and lease costs have become the most significant operating costs for Trident.
In Kneehill County, property tax in 2014 was set at 5.6 per cent and has since increased to 17.3 per cent in 2018.
Lease agreements saw similar rises from seven per cent to 17.3 per cent in 2018. Many costs like labour and capital investment in the area has since been reduced to keep up with all of these demands.
After consideration, council chose not to give them the tax break as there were only eight days left until the county will be sending out tax notices.
Council made a motion to receive the presentation as information and directed administration to respond to their request in writing to say Kneehill County will not provide tax relief for the company as a courtesy.
Hesketh Hall request
Council approved the request from the Hesketh Hall to become an additional name insured under county insurance.
RMA Insurance, the county’s insurance provider, offers coverage for small community groups as an Additional Named Insured (ANI).
Hesketh Hall has requested to have access to this coverage.
An initial application has been completed and a quote has been provided by RMA.
The Swalwell Hall has also requested and subsequently received this type of insurance for their hall.
This ANI option allows small community groups access to the same group pricing and broad coverage that Kneehill County has by being a member of RMA Insurance.
Mike Morton, Director of Corporate Services, explained that the risk to the county was minimal and there has yet to be any increased liability because of something like this. Premiums would be paid by Hesketh Hall. The cost to the county includes a small amount of administrative time communicating between the community group and RMA insurance which will take little time.
The acceptance of this request would also help their strategic plan as it would promote safe and viable communities within the borders of Kneehill.
Council moved to approve the request.
Community Grant funding chosen
The second application deadline for the Community Grants to Non-Profit Organizations in 2018 was on Oct. 3, 2018. The total dollar amount requested for Round Two was listed at $71,900.
The Prairie Christian Academy (PCA) and the Lions Club of Trochu requested over $5,000. Both presented a delegation to council in regards to the extensive funding.
Council underwent a process to determine which community organizations and clubs would receive requested funding for projects, renovations, and other community centred ideas.
Council approved the requests of the Three Hills Junior B Hockey Club, Kneehill Minor Hockey Association, Kneehill Pond Hockey Association, Carbon & District Ag Society and Curling Club and the Acme Church of God (Seventh Day).
The Junior B Hockey Club will use their $4,500 in funds for equipment replacements such as helmets, jerseys, and socks while the Kneehill Minor Hockey Association will use their $4,500 for a rink divider as required by Hockey Canada’s new program changes.
The Kneehill Pond Hockey Association will use their contributed amount of $1,000 for new jerseys for four different age groups ranging from five to 18 years old. Carbon’s Ag Society and Curling Club will be replacing their lower lobby chairs, 40 all together for $900.
The Acme Church of God (Seventh Day) requested $1,000 for the 100-year-old church interior renovations including painting, flooring and a screen projector to modernize their services.
The payout will be $11,900 in total.
Countywide fire strategy
At the Oct. 15, 2018 Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting, Council made a few recommendations about fire strategy.
Councillor Debbie Penner made a recommendation to direct administration to schedule meetings with Kneehill County’s Urban Council’s one-on-one, discussing the best possible fire services available to residents and to ensure they are protected.
They would also discuss the concerns that urban partners have with fire to be completed by Jan. 1, 2019.
Councillor Kenneth King also made a recommendation to write to the councils of the towns and villages, suggesting that they meet together as they outline the future vision of rural fire protection within the area.
Since COW meetings are simply for discussion and more time to understand a topic, council came up with these recommendations that could not be implemented until the regular council meeting.
Council carried a final motion to have administration write to all towns and villages in the area such as Three Hills, Trochu, Linden, Acme and Carbon to schedule meeting times to talk about this important issue.