Village hasn’t seen ‘hoarding’ problem, hears council

The Village of Alix has been lucky enough to avoid the “hoarding” problem commonly encountered in other communities in the coronavirus outbreak, councillors heard during their regular meeting March 18.

Village CAO Michelle White provided councillors with a detailed update on what Alix is doing to handle the coronavirus outbreak.

Coun. Vicki Soltermann said she thought Alix had avoided much of the “panic buying” problem which plagued other communities, which she saw in Stettler.

Coun. Ed Cole agreed that Alix appears to have so far avoided that problem.

The CAO noted village staff along with local and regional emergency management began responding to various announcements made by the provincial and federal governments that week.

White said, so far, there doesn’t seem to be any direct financial implications on the village from coronavirus.

Mayor Rob Fehr asked, “Are we looking at a pandemic plan?” White responded that staff are working on a plan.

Felt was also at the council meeting and noted staff are going over the contingency plan, on the phone daily, reviewing regional partnerships and feel they are on the right track.

She stated the Alberta Medical Association is happy with the village’s efforts and the village is planning to host an unofficial operations centre to handle coronavirus issues.

Felt stated information for the public will be posted on the village website or Rec Department Facebook page.

Paper copies of statements will also be available at the village office, which remains open to the public as of the council meeting.

“At this time, our office and staff are maintaining a ‘business as usual’ approach with a heightened hygiene regime and social distancing practices,” stated White in her report to council.

The mayor stated he wanted to make sure staff know all of the various benefits available to workers right now from various levels of government.

White said she also wanted to make sure nobody thinks they are financially required to go to work even though they’re ill.

White also pointed out that if the situation changes, councillors will be notified as soon as possible.

Financial statements

Councillors listened to auditor Dan Luymes of BD Canada report on the village’s audited financial statements.

In his memo to CAO White, Luymes noted, “During the course of our audit into the financial statements of the Village of Alix for the year ended Dec. 31, 2019 we did not encounter any significant matters which we believe should be brought to your attention.”

Councillors went through various sections of the audited statements with Luymes’ help.

Coun. Soltermann said the audited financial statements were nice to look at.

“All in all, it looks a lot better than it did last year,” said Soltermann.

Councillors accepted the audited financial statements.

Emergency Management Bylaw

Councillors had a modified Emergency Management Bylaw returned to them for second and third reading.

Coun. Ed Cole asked if he understood correctly that the new bylaw allows the mayor, acting alone, to declare a local state of emergency, or the deputy mayor or two councillors.

White responded, yes, that is correct.

White noted that authority is required by the provincial government.

Councillors unanimously approved second and third readings of the new bylaw.

Year-end adjustments

White provided council with a memo regarding year end adjustments, specifically a total unrestricted surplus of $668,222.

“These are funds the village holds that are not already designated to a particular reserve account and are also not part of a grant that is being held to sue on a particular project,” stated White in her report.

White said councillors had options for the funds, including buying out a debt. Coun. Cole stated, with the price of oil dropping, provincial grants may be scare to come by this year and the funds could come in handy for projects.

Councillors agreed to leave about $200,000 in unrestricted surplus, agreed to pay out the debenture as of April 30, 2020 in the amount dictated by the Alberta Treasury Board & Finance but not to exceed $250,000 and that of Dec. 31, 2019 the Village of Alix council will add $100,000 to roads and streets reserve, $100,000 to wastewater reserve, $8,000 to the cemetery reserve and $10,000 to the community hall reserve.

Too late to cancel 

During staff reports it was noted the Rec Dept. held a scheduled cooking class, despite the coronavirus outbreak.

White explained the decision was made to go ahead with the class because all of the food for it was already purchased and it would have gone to waste.

 

Stu Salkeld, LJI 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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