County raises mill rate for non-residential

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Financial Reports and Motions
Mike Morton, Director of Corporate Services, presented Council with the financial budget-to-actual report (January 2016-December 2016), which was received as information. The operating and project budgets together create a budget surplus of 2.70 million. The report also identified projects being carried forward to 2017. A net gravel expense of $2,892,816.98 accounts for gravel used. The purchase variance of $251,446.39 is being carried forward to 2017. “It’s been a tough couple of years in the oil and gas sector,” said Al Hogan, Administrator. “We are still in a strong financial position with a strong surplus.” Total revenue for 2016 budgeted was $38,366,864 while actual was $39,048,014. Total operating expenses for 2016 budgeted was $29,347,183 while actual was $27,529,041.52. Councilors asked about electrical/power savings comparisons for the solar generation but Administration advised that they could not properly track the numbers. “We are trying to change that. We have Atco helping but it is difficult information to extrapolate when dealing with the two different buildings ages.” The 2017 Proposed Budget and amendments shows a net deficit (as of this day) of $474,359. Mike presented Council with various tax scenarios for farmland, residential and non-residential to indicate how sensitive a small change to the mill rate can affect dollars generated. He added a comparison sheet of mill rates from neighbouring Counties as well. It was all just options for Council to think about; not a recommendation. Council approved a motion to establish a ‘Revenue Stabilization’ reserve (to help with the 2018 budget) and create another for a ‘Rural Internet’ Reserve. “Hopefully it’s not as bad as we’re forecasting,” said Al Hogan. Said Clr. Calhoun, “It will be nice to have this (stabilization reserve) for the future and not have to drastically cut services or raise taxes.” Reeve Long was in favor of doing something with the rural internet issues. “Services (internet) are terrible out here. Let’s move forward with internet.”
As for the 2017 budget deficit, Council increased the mill rate for non-residential assessments in the 2017 budget, to 14.018 and it reflects the 5:1 maximum ratio on non-residential to residential as indicated in the Municipal Government Act. This will create a net budget surplus of $1,416,884 which will be transferred to Rural Internet Reserve and other indicated reserves.
Now the 2016 Surplus has been designated and direction given to balance the 2017 budget, Council can look forward to the 2016 audited financial statement, the 2017 operating and capital budgets, and at the next Council meeting -- the proposed taxation bylaw.
Policies Deleted
Council approved deletions of numerous policies under Transportation due to that particular policy no longer being needed or covered elsewhere. Policy 13-13 Railway Crossing was deleted because railway companies have their own standards. Other policies deleted include Policy 13-17 Road Engineering (dealt with by annual budgets), Policy 13-19 Road Signs (adhere to Alta. Traffic Safety Act), and Policies under Road Construction 13-20-1, 13-20-3, 13-20-4A, and 13-20-5. Other deleted policies include 13-21 Road Crossing Regulations, Policy 13-22 Private Access Roads, Policy 13-26 Seismic Equipment, 13-31 Tool Allowance, 13-33 Road Grading of Municipal Roads by Private Parties, Policy 13-35 Sign Change requests at Intersection, and Policy 13-4 Residential Dust Suppression (rates moved into Master Rates Bylaw).
Public Hearings
There were three public hearings held. Bylaw 1730 - Scheunert application for Redesignation two acre portions from Agriculture District to Local Rural Commercial District for SE 19-34-24-W4, at 10:00 a.m., Bylaw 1731 - Redesignation from Agriculture District to Recreation District for NE 31-30-23-W4 at 11:00 a.m., and Bylaw 1732 - Re-designation from Agriculture District to Recreation District for SW 27-28-21-W4 at 1:00 p.m. No decisions by Council were made at today’s meeting.
Bylaw 1730 is for being able to utilize a large barn structure for events such as anniversaries, weddings, and family reunions, with a capacity of 250 people. There was one written opposition with a concern for noise and fire. Applicant replied that noise buffers are in place and in three years there has been no crime and no reason to call police. Bylaw 1731 is to redesignate 5.4 acres from over 16 acre parcel of the Smith property for a Hobbit and Medievel themed bed and breakfast, to include a feast hall, dance hall, camping and Hobbit burrows. This is located half a mile east of Hwy 21 on Twp Rd 31-0. One letter of objection was read into the hearing with concerns as a flood zone, and grass fire potential . Large private Medieval festivals with 100 or more guests have been held on the property since 2008. The applicant has gained the experience to move more into a commercialized venture. Activities would include a bed and breakfast operation, a recreational lodge, ‘luxury’ campground, earth-bermed cottages, and retail store of souvenirs. Workshops may also be held with consideration to archery, crafts, armor, candle making. The applicant advised that Travel Alberta was supportive of the venture and he stated open fires would not be allowed. Fires would be self-contained in a permitted area.
Bylaw 1732 is for The Kneehill County property off of Hwy 9 for the 160 acres at Horseshoe Canyon and the present and future plans of dirt trails, signage, new outhouses, parking, shelters and new lookout points. The soil classification is not suitable for agriculture and the current use is recreational. The intention is to make safe the area as trails and to the enhance economy. There were no written submissions either in favor or in opposition but there were some concerns raised at the hearing for the potential of other undesirable permitted uses under the redesignation. Administration explained that a restrictive covenant would not allow motorized vehicles in any of the sensitive areas.
New Business
Council approved a sponsorship request of $300 for the Trochu Arboretum as financial support for the Easter Egg Hunt and Scarecrow Competition. Under new business, Policy 3-9 - Electronic Devices was updated to include maintenance and use. Policy 3-5 - Committee Pay Differential was accepted as proposed. Policy 6-1 - Election Deposits was deleted because the deposit of $100 is stated in the current Master Rates Bylaw. Policy 3-14 - Meetings Divisional was deleted as this is covered within policy 3-14-1- Meeting with Ratepayers and policy 18-2 Public Consultation. Policy 3-4 - Committee Member/Alternate Attending Meetings was approved as presented.
With an acceptable water model review, Council approved a request for a water volume increase at SE 30-29-25 at Sunterra Farms on the Selkirk System.
Protective Services
Under Protective Services, Policy 8-20 Kneehill County Public Safety General Policy includes a variety of references and as presented, would dissolve six policies - 8-1 Code of Conduct, 8-2 and 8-3 Discipline, 8-5 Jurisdiction, 8-16 Assist Other Agencies, and 8-19 CPIC access. Policy 8-21 - Use of Force, Enforcement Tools Policy was approved as presented and combines policies, allowing for the deletion of Policy 8-10 Making Arrests, 8-11 Use of Force, 8-12 OC Spray, 8-13 Batons, and 8-14 Handcuffs.
Policy 5-1 Planning and Development Fees provides a process outline where subdivision and endorsement fees may be waived for public uses and community buildings (primarily not for profits/organizations). Council approved confirmation of the policy as presented, without changes. Policy 5-6 guidelines for Setbacks-Oilwells, Battery Sites and the like was deleted as this is covered in the Land Use bylaw. Policy 5-15 Relaxation/Variance requests of other Authorities was deleted as relaxations are covered in Land Use bylaw as well.