The Village of Morrin will not raise taxes to any significant degree heard councillors as they pondered their 2022 budget. The budget was unanimously approved at the May 18 regular meeting.
Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Annette Plachner presented councillors with the draft 2022 budget and noted that property tax rates would be about, “…the same as last year.”
Plachner stated that if property owners see an increase on their tax bill, it’s probably linked to their assessment.
Plachner noted when drawing up the 2022 budget she tried to hold the line.
As councillors discussed specific lines in the budget Coun. Lorraine MacArthur noted the village will pay $1,500 in 2022 to have its website maintained and MacArthur stated that it seemed $100 a month was expensive.
Coun. M’Liss Edwards stated the village’s website contractor charges less than some others do. However, Edwards also commented she was hoping to see a lot more content on the village website, including policies and bylaws which are not all there to date.
MacArthur noted she’d also like to see some better photos of the village on its website.
The discussion came around to Pubic Works Foreman Dave Benci’s wages. Plachner stated that Benci’s wages are divided between four village departments.
MacArthur asked how pothole repair was included in the budget, and Plachner responded it’s included under general maintenance and Starland County staff usually handle that work.
Mayor Chris Hall noted he has experience with pothole repair and would be willing to help if they need it.
Plachner noted a major expense every month for the village is its utility bill, which usually averages $4,000 per month.
Mayor Hall suggested the town look at having village streetlights converted to LED which may reduce the power bill.
Edwards commented big parts of the bill are transmission fees, not necessarily the power itself.
MacArthur stated she was happy with the budget and commended the CAO for avoiding a tax increase.
“I think you did a nice job,” said MacArthur.
Councillors unanimously approved the 2022 budget.
Gas Plus property
Plachner gave an update on the Gas Plus property, which has been discussed at council before.
The council has considered beginning a tax recovery process on the property which is authorized under the Municipal Government Act (MGA) as a way for municipalities to recover unpaid property taxes.
The complication is that the property in question has a contamination. Plachner had been instructed at a previous meeting to find out what grant programs exist that could help the village clean up the property.
As it turns out, there is very little help.
“There’re no grants,” said Plachner. “None at all.”
Plachner stated she contacted an engineering firm to advise her and they confirmed there are no grants to help clean up contaminated property.
Mayor Hall suggested taking the bull by the horns. “Let’s take it over,” he said, referring to the tax recovery process.
Hall suggested, if the property ends up in the village’s hands, it could be rented out for the buildings on site, and he’s heard interest voiced in those buildings.
Councillors passed a resolution to table this issue while the village looks into the condition of the buildings.
Councillors passed all readings necessary to bring the Village of Morrin 2022 tax rate bylaw into effect.
Councillors heard a report about the new Morrin School which is said to begin construction soon.
Plachner stated the village received a letter about the Prairie Land Public School Division facility which noted construction plans had changed and they were proposing digging up a portion of Main Street to install new water and sewer lines for the project.
Mayor Hall stated it seemed like a good thing the village hadn’t paid to do that work themselves. It was stated after the infrastructure was installed the road would also receive new pavement.
Plachner noted the work would take about a month and Main Street would be closed for that time. MacArthur stated that notices should be posted so residents know about this and Plachner answered that as soon as she knows the exact dates she will post notices.
Mayor Hall gave an update on the park opening and show and shine held in Morrin the May 14 weekend. He stated the fire department barbecue went well and it seems all the events attracted between 2,000 and 3,000 people to the village. Some vehicles for the show and shine came from as far away as Medicine Hat.
Hall stated the event was very strongly supported by the community which donated to help the event.
Councillors elected to discuss an email in closed session. The email was from Starland County.
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