Utility rates changed

Written by Terri Huxley

During the October 7, 2021, council meeting, council passed Utility Rates Bylaw 8:2021.

Administration requested council revisit the bylaw as the Flagstaff Waste 2022 budget was presented and approved by council during the Dec. 16, 2021, regular council meeting with an increase in the requisition to Forestburg in the amount of $4,220.48 which results in an increase of $0.76 per utility account per month.

Flagstaff Waste increased their budget by three per cent overall.

To ensure that utility expenses are fully cost-recovered within utility rates, administration recommended that the garbage rates increase, per month, in the amount of $0.76.

Council passed all three readings of the bylaw to solidify the slight change.

The base-line charge for residents will now come to $31.86 per month with the 76 cent increase included.

Health care support

During council’s Committee of the Whole (COW) session where different topics and items of note not present on the agenda are discussed.

Mayor Blaise Young mentioned there has been mounting frustration over the Galahad Care Centre recruitment with Alberta Health Services but recent meetings have sparked an idea to support the neighbouring facility.

Councillors agreed one of Forestburg’s weaknesses was affordable housing as well as across Canada in terms of economic development but viewed this situation as an opportunity to get people and their families to come to Forestburg.

The mayor asked for permission from council to support this initiative by providing $2,500 bursary for healthcare aids to be sponsored there which they unanimously supported.

Young also mentioned that Mayors and CAOs will be meeting under a Flagstaff County regional effort to ‘get everyone at the table’ to brainstorm and further figure out what is necessary to bring people into the communities of Flagstaff.

Garbage request reinforced

Forestburg administration received a letter from utility account #3110.000 in regards the monthly garbage service fees.

The utility account owner began receiving utility bills in the month of November 2021.

The property is unoccupied at this time so they requested the garbage service fees of approximately $445.32 be waived and back dated to November 2021 until mid-year of 2022.

The Utility Bylaw 1:2022 indicates that all developed properties pay a monthly service charge fee as the village is billed, by requisition from Flagstaff Waste, per household.

Council understood why the resident asked for the waiving of these fees but agreed with administration it wasn’t a good idea to do as it could set a precedent for others to request.

They added that snowbird owners also pay despite being out of the home for large periods of time.

“While we sympathize and empathize we see no reason the basic charges should be waived,” said Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Dwight Dibben.

Council passed a motion to accept administration’s recommendation to not waive the fees from January 2022 to June 2022 and back date the request for November and December 2021.

Adjustment to water charges

A letter was given to the village requesting that council provide an adjustment to utility account #641005 water usage due to the water meter not reading.

Administration has calculated the water readings and billings since January 2020 and has determined that the meter for this account stopped reading on June 30, 2020.

According to the Utility Rates Bylaw 1:2022, in the event that a water meter malfunctions, and no water usage reading is provided, an estimate of 10 cubic metres shall be charged to the customer for that month.

Based on historical data, this customer had an average usage of 5.18 cubic metres per month which prompts a refund of $65 as they were under the baseline outlined in the bylaw.

There was a previous request similar to this one in which council supported because of the massive difference in usage and estimates.

This time around, council agreed to direct administration to offer a credit of $5/month if the account is current and remains current until the credit has expired.

Council liked the idea of creating an incentive to keep up on bills with the village.

Administration shared with council that the village is continuing to ‘aggressively get rid of backlog’ by trying to replace faulty and/or old metres as quickly as they are manufactured and sent.

This has been an ongoing effort.

Community Enhancement Fund

The balance in the Community Enhancement Fund to Dec. 31, 2021 is $303,873.99.

Each year, Forestburg disburses the funds with last year’s amount at $87,975 and is made up of eight local boards and societies.

This includes $525 to the Forestburg Arena Association, $100 to Communities in Bloom, $20,115 to the Forestburg Community Hall Board, $30 to the Big Knife Villa, $50 to the Forestburg Golf Club, $90 to the public library and lastly $66,995 to the curling club.

Council passed a motion to approve the disbursements in these amounts.

 

Terri Huxley
ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Fast forward to 2020, she has won second in the same category for the AWNA.