Kneehill County to hire Fire Chief

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County Council, at its February 2018 strategic planning session, set the priority to create a Rural Fire Strategy through the hiring of a Fire Chief to accomplish this task as well as having other duties. The motion was carried today, directing Administration to add a Fire Chief and fund the position through collapsing the Economic Development Budget. The FC position includes key duties of developing a long term strategy for rural fire services, managing the County’s fire department (Torrington), working with area municipal fire departments, managing the regional fire training structure, and emergency management roles. The wage proposed is $136,367.50 (including benefits), along with a vehicle $32,500), uniform, firefighting gear, cell phone, computer and fuel.

It didn’t go unnoticed that a number of fire chiefs from the various fire departments were in attendance, including Torrington’s Fire Chief. They were not asked to speak.

Kneehill County Councillors were provided with a User Fee Review Report for Council’s information and background. As perspective the report contained a review of services offered and the level of cost recovery for these services.

Any changes to the Accounts Receivable Collection Process Policy 16-2 were noted, and though many, they were minor in nature, including improvements that contained clearer definitions.

Council received as information the November and December 2017 Bank Reconciliation.

Council approved the Financial Policy 16-12 - County Credit, Debit, and fuel cards as presented. A card was approved for the position of Manager of Parks & Agricultural Services and a card was deleted for the vacant Economic Development Officer. The overall corporate limit would stay intact.

Peace Officer Rural Crime Deterrent initiative Proposal

Debra Grosfield, Manager of Protective Services, Communications Officer presented Council with background information and a proposal for one or more Community Peace Officers to patrol rural areas on a regular and frequent basis (a significant priority of Council to deter rural crime). Currently, the County has two Level 1 Community Peace Officers. CPO cannot engage in enforcing criminal code violations. Level 1 CPO can enforce moving traffic violations, where a Level 2 officer cannot. Said Deputy Reeve King, “I know its a lot of dollars but if we see a community benefit, I’d be in favour of two.” Council directed Administration to add one additional Community Peace Officer for the Rural Crime Deterrent Initiative and to amend the 2018 Operating and Capital Budget. In a second motion, Council would defer discussion of a second CPO to the 2019 budget deliberations.

Reserve Reallocation

At their Strategic Planning Session Council wanted to make several changes to its long term strategies, which included reallocation of certain Council reserves. Council also made future water expansion as a strategic priority. It was thought that the current balance of $1,301,528.04 in the Rural Internet Reserve could be put to better use in other capital projects.

The Revenue Stabilization has a current balance of $2,590,000 (established in expectation of declining assessments). With assessment not declining as anticipated, the funds could be used in other proposals. Council directed Administration to transfer the balance from the Internet Reserve and Revenue Stabilization Reserve to the Hamlet infrastructure reserve and Environmental reserve, but Deputy Reeve King tabled his motion for now, until after the committee of the whole meeting in April.

Churchill Water System

The engineering firm WSP has completed conceptual engineering for the Churchill Water distribution system, including design layout, pumphouse, reservoir, and bulk fill station. Included are two design scenarios, one for residential use only and, another system that includes both commercial and residential use. The costs differ dramatically from the time the County initiated the original Rural Water Systems, when the actual cost of a riser was $60,000. At these newer costs the actual riser cost would be closer to $200,000. “This is certainly not an ideal system,” said Reeve Wittstock. Funding sources will need a much closer look (including available grants) and Council will give greater discussion to the matter at their April 5 Committee of the Whole meeting. Said Deputy Reeve King, “This requires a much bigger conversation.”

Canadian Badlands Request

Council approved a motion (one opposed) to support the Canadian Badlands Tourism Conference with $1500 donation. In the past Kneehill County gave $500 in 2015 and $600 in 2016.

Drumheller RCMP Statistics

Council was supplied with a 2017 year-end review report for Drumheller RCMP Rural Detachment. Highlights were 1021 calls for service in 2017, an increase of 17% from 2016. October had the most files, while April had the least. Mondays were the busiest days, while Sundays were the quietest. It was noted that 25% of its files are received at the front counter or self-generated by members.