Trochu Council reviews 6-month financials

Trochu LOGO

All Councilors but Ed Stephan were present in person for July 13th’s Trochu Town Council Meeting. Dave Nelson, Director of Operations, and Jamie Collins, grant-writer, were also present for the meeting which was called to order 6:02pm.

The first 50 minutes of the meeting was devoted to a break-down of financials for the first half of 2020. Lavinia Henderson, of Civic Solutions, joined the meeting by phone to share her updates with Council.

To the end of June, Henderson reported $2M in revenue, $1.4M spent, for a net surplus of $685K, including taxes that have not yet been collected. Spending has been well-managed, even with water revenue down slightly due to a rainy summer.

For cash flow projections, Henderson indicated $957,678 in available cash in the bank, but with more going out than coming in for the rest of the year, she predicts that there will be a cash crunch until the end of next year, and that the line-of-credit may need to be extended slightly.

Council filed the Bank Reconciliation for June 2020, and the Quarterly Budget Report. They expressed thanks to Henderson for her work.

Jamie Collins presented a brief Grant-writer report, noting that she soon will be submitting the grant application for the library door.

Dave Nelson, Director of Operations, presented an Operations Report for the month of June. Nelson highlighted that a plumber has been contacted to upgrade the showers in the change room at the pool and arena with push-button mixing valves, and this work will commence in the next week. The Trochu Pool opened on June 19th and has had great turn-outs. The wading pool heater is not currently working, and parts have been ordered but have not yet arrived.

Nelson notes that some residents have had concerns about the grade of their alleys and lanes, and that the town is aware of these issues. One of the biggest problems is the way the alleys slope, and that multiple backyards drain into the middle of an alley. Once a vehicle passes on the soft alley, any repair work done is destroyed once again. Crews have been trying to raise the middle of the alley slightly so that water will run along the shoulders of the alley (a reverse drain), however this has, in some cases, ceased drainage altogether. Nelson says it will be a continual process to try to get it improved, as some roads are just really flat, and adding gravel isn’t the best solution.

Regular drainage of mainline and hydrant flushing is underway, and along with it, regular hydrant maintenance. Three hydrants will be replaced in late July.

After Council mentioned a desire to acquire Wi-Fi for the campground, Nelson investigated which options exist. Both Telus and Eastlink replied that the campground is out of their reach, so other options such as Xplornet or a satellite system will be looked-into next. Eastlink said that they could supply Wi-Fi for the arena. Council filed the Operations Report.

CAO Carl Peterson presented the Administrator’s Report. The main item on his agenda was the progress of the Lagoon Expansion project. At this stage, before everything can be approved, the federal government mandated that a letter and Indigenous Consultation Packages be sent to the Stoney Nation and their tribes, and the Metis Nation as well. Peterson explained that this is a requirement of the ICIP grant funding approval.

Council filed the Grant-Writer’s Report, the Operations Report, the Water/Wastewater report, and the Administrator Report.

Councilors presented their peers with reports on their respective areas.

Councilor Chris Armstrong attended a Community Futures Wildrose meeting on July 2nd. He noted that the organization is in good shape financially with $45K net income, which was $11K over-budget, and were down $20K in expenses from what they’d budgeted, as events and travel had to be cancelled due to COVID-19.

He reported that it is expected that the Rural Relief and Recovery Fund will distribute $1M in loans for small businesses, currently at $517K given-out. This would mean they were able to distribute $1M in just 28 days!

Lastly, Armstrong reported that Open Farm Days will be happening the 3rd weekend in August. There are AHS guidelines that must be met on each farm, and tickets need to be pre-paid, but the event is scheduled to take place.

Councilor Bill Cunningham had no meetings to report, but did thank Council for allowing the museum to proceed with their garage sale, to take place on July 26th. Tables will be spread out to allow for distancing. He notes that visitorship has been good this year, and that they held a successful autograph session with Miss Rodeo Canada, Trochu’s own Alicia Erickson, last week.

Councilor Cheryl Lumley reported that she attended the Arboretum AGM in which a new executive team was appointed. Lumley and CAO Peterson will be reviewing the Arboretum’s agreement with the Town, which will be completed by week’s end. Weather permitting, the stairs on the large gazebo will be fixed within the week. Without the ability to host their usual annual fundraisers, the budget will be a bit tight. As well, the Arboretum is looking for people to manage the daily opening and closing of the gate, to turn the lights on and off, and to get a fire going on certain evenings.

Lumley also noted that the Senior’s Drop-in Centre is set to re-open soon, with some changes for safety. No more than 20 will be allowed inside at one time, and distancing will be carefully enforced.

Deputy Mayor Bonnie Munro informed Council that the library has established a COVID committee who are ascertaining how to fully re-open the library. There is no timeline yet detailing when this might happen. Munro also expressed gratitude to Collins for her work in submitting a grant proposal for the automatic library door.

Mayor Barry Kletke reported that he attended the Trochu Housing Corporation meeting, and noted that the work plan and budget is right where they felt it would be. They are still working on the financial model and will be defining it more clearly once grant details are known in the fall, but will be in a good position to apply for provincial funding.

A meeting with MLA Nathan Cooper has been scheduled for August 4th to discuss the Housing project.

Under Bylaws, Policies, and Agreements, CAO Peterson presented Council with the Keys2Housing Communities Consultant Agreement. A very similar agreement was previously in place, but that agreement expired in January. This new agreement has a few clarifications, most notably that the town will pay an hourly rate to a maximum of $45K in total annual salary per year, fitting into an already established budget. This isn’t a change from the previous contract, but the specification of a maximum is an addition. The rate per kilometer remains the same as the previous contract. Because of his excellent work so far on the Trochu Senior’s Housing project, Council unanimously motions to accept the agreement.

The second policy item for Council’s consideration was the Artis Exploration Municipal Treated Effluent Water Access Agreement. Peterson notes that this policy is considerably different than the original, and guarantees payment by Artis to Trochu once the agreement begins in September 2021. A payment of $25K would be due each year, if Artis wishes to purchase effluent. If there is no purchase made in the year, the $25K rolls forward to the next year, so that $50K would be due if a purchase is made, and so on, continually guaranteeing $25K per year. As well, this $25K gives Artis right of first refusal. Council agrees that it seems like a no-lose situation for both parties, but as Council had questions about how the right of first refusal would be enacted, Peterson agrees to consult with Artis for clarification, then bring it back to Council.

In New Business, Council received a request from Laser Solutions, who are seeking approval to serve alcohol at their salon. Council moves to approve this request as something that is standard for salons and spas.

Council spent time reviewing the submissions from the town logo contest which closed on June 30 after being extended. No decisions were made in the meeting.

A radio station interviewed Mayor Kletke since they are calling towns across Alberta who claim to have the world’s largest item. They asked if Trochu had registered the world’s largest golf tee with the Guinness Book of World Records, but this lengthy process has not been completed. Town staff have discovered that there is a town in the States with the largest wooden tee, but it is 10 feet shorter than Trochu’s “composite” tee. They plan to persist with registering Trochu’s tee with the record book, and the radio station will follow up with Mayor Kletke.

Council motioned to enter closed-session at 8:10pm.