Valley Ski Hill board mulling over options

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The Valley Ski Hill sent a strategic business case document including a feasibility study to council on Tues. Nov. 6.

The beloved ski hill near Alliance, Ab. has had a rocky past as numbers continue to dwindle and the facilities continue to age.

Two members of the Valley Ski Hill board were in attendance at a meeting with Flagstaff and Paintearth County representatives to discuss this business case.

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michael Simpson told council that Flagstaff County would like to have the full board examine the document to determine what should be done and if they need help from municipalities.

The board can choose from eight different strategies outlined in the report. “They can use them all at once [or] adopt some and not the others. There is obviously some forecasted revenue and expense scenarios in there as well so they have a lot to think about, ” said Simpson.

The board has indicated they would like help but both counties did not want to dictate how the strategic planning process moves forward.

Instead, they would like to see the board determine what they can handle in terms of workload and then have the municipalities help where needed.

Flagstaff has offered to have the ski hill operate under the County Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) rules as well as supply communications staff and help deal with structural facility needs.

“For municipal contributions, it seems to be lacking any mention of any urban contributions,” noted Coun. Tyrrill Hewitt.

Coun. Diane Elliott mentioned that the main reason the neighbouring villages and towns have not been mentioned was possibly because the hill is situated on county land rather than urban land.

CAO Simpson was in agreeance with Hewitt saying “It is but it’s a fair point to consider asking the urbans to see if they want to contribute some of this, certainly the structural projects.”

Deputy Reeve Doreen Blumhagen was happy with the progress but felt the timing of the potential changes was unfortunate as the hill already had their annual ski swap and season pass event the weekend prior to the council meeting.

“It’s unfortunate because it’s something that we won’t be able to do this year,” said Blumhagen.

Council made a motion to accept the document as information until the ski hill board is done with their decision making.

Non-Payment tax penalties and guidelines

Administration introduced a new bylaw that outlines property tax penalties and terms of payment as it was never formally done before.

A large number of county residents were misunderstood as the tax must be paid in full before or on the due date rather than making a payment and ‘dragging it out’.

The bylaw makes expectations clear for both staff and ratepayers.

“Everything is in place but now it’s on paper,” said Assistant CAO Brenda Hepp.

Payments can be made at the county administration building or deposited in the envelope depository located at the entrance of the building and the due date for tax payment is June 30. Ratepayers also have the option of internet banking.

As for Tax Installment Plan eligibility, all taxes must be paid in full.

If there are any missed payments or withdrawal from the tax instalment plan, all unpaid taxes become due and payable and subject to penalties.

Any payments that are late from July to the end of September will have five per cent penalties attached to all current taxes and arrears of taxes whereas anything due past that point is 10 per cent.

All taxes unpaid after December 31 of the current year are deemed to be in arrears effective January 1 of the following year.

After reading the fine print, council carried the bylaw.

Wild Boar Agreement

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry have asked the county to sign an Implementation of Wild Boar Containment Standards Agreement which would be effective from January 1, 2018, to December 31, 2023.

They suggest the wild boar is a pest under the Agricultural Pests Act and standards are needed to contain the animal.

In 2017, Administration spoke with Perry Abremenko, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Inspector, about wild boar in the county area.

It was determined they were a hybrid pig and not considered a wild boar.

Abremenko felt there was no issue with the pigs escaping and would not require fencing standards that are being proposed by the provincial government.

The document is not mandatory at this time so council agreed to not sign the document as they felt there was no real threat to the county.

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