Emergency Management training session set for end of May

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ACCURATE ASSESSMENT GROUP REPORTS

Accurate Assessment Group Ltd. was reported on to Council by Troy Birtles, Assessment Specialist. Comparison of 2016 to 2017 assessment on residential shows 2016 totals (rounded to the nearest million for this report) of $447 million vs. 2017 $467 million. It was lower for non-residential with 2016 $109 million vs. 2017 $64 million. For Designated Industrial Property (DIP) the difference was 2016 at $353 million vs 2017 at $383.5 million. On linear the difference was $1 Billion for 2016 vs. $980 million in 2017. Farmland remained roughly the same at $152 million and in the exempt category it was $213 million in 2016 vs $217 million in 2017.

Comparing grand totals, 2017 was slightly lower by $10,025,230 million. With 2016 and 2017 comparatively close, assessment years do show a marked decrease from the years 2013, 2014 and again in 2015.

In Kneehill County, AAG identified 1,611 Designated Industrial Properties (DIP) and AAG is working through new processes and procedures to adhere to DIP requirements and legislative MGA changes.

“Stabilizing oil price has resulted in signs of economic growth resulting in minor increases to market values. We will continue to monitor into 2018.”

Roll numbers in residential/non-res were in 2013 (63), 2014 (49), 2015 (51), 2016 (42) and 2017 (32). Development permits in 2013 (57), 2014 (42), 2015 (58), 2016 (73), and 2017 (85).

Complete figures can be obtained from the County’s website, including a breakdown of permits issued in 2016 to 2018. New businesses in the County include brewery, vehicle safety, dog groomer, caterer (taste of Ukraine), two bakeries, graphic design, bed & breakfast, seed, agrochemical storage & agronomy store, RV repair, Goat creamery, Solterra, wedding barn, campground by Horseshoe Canyon (Dekeyser), Good Knights Medieval Encampment, Welding/metal fabrication, manufacture Ag Equipment, Grainsconnect Canada, 2 market gardens, custom cabinets & kitchen cabinets.

MUNICIPAL SERVICES SUMMARY

The Ag Services Board took part in hosting an array of services including Ranching Opportunities, Ladies Livestock Lesson, Septic Sense Workshop, Environmental Farm Plan Workshop, and began sales of 2% liquid strychnine gopher poison. They are working on a Growing Kneehill Tour plan, awarded roadside mowing tender to Bedrock Energy Services, and hired all seasonal staff. Kneehill County was awarded a Tourism Growth and Innovation Fund grant for creation of a Horseshoe Canyon Masterplan. A ‘request for proposal’ (RFP) for the Horseshoe masterplan has been posted. Timber has been received to complete the shelter at the main lookout. The records mapping for Arthurvale Cemetery is complete and has been transferred into the County’s program.

Environmental Services replaced 7 meters (5 frozen and 2 not recording flow properly) over the winter months. Annual reports for all water and wastewater systems were submitted to Environment as was the class III landfill. Seven new connections to water systems were completed and operators located and repaired 3 rural waterline breaks. Mt. Veron WSA experienced a severe water disruption due to a waterline break within the Town of Three Hills, while the Sunnyslope Gravity WSA experienced a high chlorine residual event that was contained and remedied. Hamlet of Swalwell’s wastewater lagoon sustained some minor damage due to surface ice movement. Construction of a water storage cistern for the Churchill WSA was cancelled due to complications with contractor awarded project. A backup generator is to be installed for the pump house and reservoir in the Hamlet of Wimborne and County transfer stations are to have fence replacement this summer.

Keeping Peace Officer Chubala busy is the Citizens in Action Program, which has over 200 kids throughout the schools signed up so far. Peace Officer policies have been adapted to include provisions for having a Level 2 CPO join the team. The County received a provincial grant to host an Emergency Management training session for the Region, working with partners on expectations. The County is planning for May 28, and 29 a ‘soft’ opening of its Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) at the shop to train staff and elected officials from partner municipalities. Fire hall renovations are happening for Torrington, interviews for a rural fire chief are in April, and Peace Officer Curwin transported 10 out of 12 fire trucks to the County shop to complete their Certifications.

Graders and plow trucks have been putting in the extra effort on weekends to keep up with snow removal on local roads and hamlets. Torrington and Huxley area ditches and culverts have been cleaned to reduce spring flooding. ‘Brushing’ which looks at site line issues along intersections, laneways, signage and snow drifts that caused plugged roads took place back in November and December of 2017.

The gravel crew stockpiled roughly 47,000 tonnes of clay for work on RR 25-1, completed at an ‘internal’ cost of $147,000, a savings of over $229,000 compared to an outside contract. Gravel has also been stockpiled at sites more convenient to where work will be done this season. Approximately 50 miles of shoulder pull will happen in the Three Hills west and North areas. Range Rd 25-1 is a contract road rebuild north of Hwy 587 is scheduled for this coming fall. Range Rd 22-5 (sharples) design is complete and awaiting government approval before it can go to tender. Engineering is taking place on Rg. Rd 24-4/5 South of Hwy 582 to have the design and approval before the end of this year, to make it project-ready for 2019. Torrington is scheduled for street improvement on 3rd Avenue. Other street repairs are being addressed with some repairs to water and sewer services at the same time. Two single span bridge structures are slated for engineering, and with Environment approval could be replaced in-house late this fall. Rge Rd 21—1A (Dunphy) is a major concern due to erosion of the current road slope. Solutions include improving the roadtop to the North, back into the County road right of way. There are two slides to repair this year and some reclamation at the clay borrow area by Wimborne (to happen early Spring). There is a plan to make dirt trail improvements around the area of shoulder pulls. The plan is to complete 12-15 miles of shoulder pulls this year.

A letter from Ms. Una Edwards Erickson, Chairperson for Kneehill Area Wellness Centre Society, advised that it was to hold its AGM on April 21, 2018 in the library room of the Ron Gorr Arena from 2-4pm. The program is to focus on reports and future projects concerning Torrington. The gathering would be an opportunity for presenting the County’s vision for the community. Clr. Glen Keiver, area representative, is also invited. Council authorized the attendance of the Reeve to attend.

Other new business included the Linden Benevolent Society for Seniors AGM and the Village of Acme Waste Water Lagoon. An invitation was received for a representative of the County to attend the Linden Benevolent Society for Seniors Annual General Meeting being held in Linden on Tuesday, April 24, 2018 at the Linden Lodge at 7:00 p.m. On the agenda will be a review of the 2017 financial statements for both the Society and the Lodge, as well as committee reports.

Council moved to suspend Urban Sustainability Grant payments to the Village of Acme until an agreement is in place regarding Kneehill County’s use of the sewage lagoon. Council directed administration to send a letter informing the Village of Acme of this decision.

Council was thanked for nominating the Hoppins Family for the 2018 Stampede Farm Family award and as they do every year, an invitation was sent for a County representative to participate at the awards on July 9, 2018. Council approved Division 6 Councilor Wade Christie to attend.

FINANCIALS

Mike Morton, Director of Corporate Services, presented Council with the write-offs and doubtful accounts, some of which are related to an increase in oil and gas companies entering into Receivership and Bankruptcy, failing to pay linear and non-linear property taxes. Currently $830,735.20 is owing to the County from eight debtor companies for 2017. The County’s law firm is appealing an unfavourable decision about the priority of municipal taxes from Court of Queen’s Bench to the Alberta Court of Appeal. This matter is related to another municipality, not Kneehill County.

The Court of Appeal should clarify the ultimate priority of a municipality’s property taxes, including linear taxes in a receivership. That appeal is expected to be heard in June 2018 with a decision several months later. “Outside of our tax collection efforts,” stated Mr. Morton, “the Province has provided a grant program to municipalities which have been unable to collect taxes but are required to pay the Provincial education fees. We have done so for 2015, 2016 and anticipate the request for 2017 later this year. If payment is received from the debtor companies, the education portion is returned to the Province.” Since the work required to deal with the Receivers is the same for all municipalities, the County’s law firm has, as agreed upon by the County, split the costs with other municipalities that have retained the law firm, allowing the firm to develop a consistent legal approach while lowering the cost for each municipality.

Collection of Pre and Post Receivership Tax Debt A total of $204,902.57 from 14 accounts have arrears balances to be deferred.

2017 Budget Surplus Council transfer 2017 Budget Surplus funds to the following reserves: $1,000,000 to Environmental Reserve and the remainder, $2,250,000, to the Hamlet Infrastructure Reserves. The unaudited surplus is approximately $3.2 million. This will be the last financial transaction for 2017 and the financial statements will then be presented through a delegation by the County auditors, BDO Canada, for the next meeting of Council on April 24, 2018.

COMMITTEE REPORTS

Community Advisory Committee Meeting from Jan 18, 2018. From the 146 community priority surveys returned, the top three were named as 1. Property Crime- Break & Enter, 2. Property Crime - theft of vehicles, 3. Police/community relations-lack of visibility. Three Hills detachment is at full strength (as of mid-January 2018), with one surplus member. Every Sgt. Detachment will become a Sgt./Cpl. Detachment within the year. There is new money in the budget for more officers. There will be crime reduction units in each district. Front line officers will work directly to reduce property crime. A ‘Call Management’ team will take the small calls that do not need a member to attend. More analysts will also be hired. Sgt. Graham has become a mentor for the Duke of Edinburgh award program. A community had some high school girls threatened from a male demanding nude pictures of them. This is under investigation. Kneehill County will be hiring a new Level 2 Peace Office, to potentially start in May. The County has two Level 1 Peace Officers. Officer Chubala has been working on a 12-year program for the school kids, with her first year finished. She will be sharing the specifics of the program so it can potentially be implemented in all the schools.