Kneehill County Council Confirms Additional Funding For Acme School Project

Kneehill Logo 2019

Reeve Jerry Wittstock called the regular meeting of the Kneehill County Council to order at 8:30 a.m., Tuesday, September 26. All Councillors were present. Council adopted the amended agenda, having added four items. Council approved the minutes of the September 12 Regular Council Meeting as presented.

Policy 13-2 Grader Gravel Services Policy was brought forward with some updates proposed. Following some questions and implications being considered, Council moved that the decisions be deferred until after another meeting of the Committee of the Whole.

Item 5.1.1 Bylaw 1889 - Land Use Bylaw 1808 Amendment was presented. This bylaw is being drafted to cover details specific to Renewable Energy projects, and the roles and responsibilities of the companies setting up wind and solar equipment, and the involvements of the land owners and adjacent property owners. Council gave first reading to the policy as it stands, but expects to have further revisions made before presenting it for 2nd reading and a public hearing tentatively set for November 14.

5.3.1 RCMP Quarterly Report and County Enforcement Report. “As part of their accountability to our community, RCMP are providing Council’s with reporting on statistics, community engagement, and community priorities, as attached.

Kneehill County Enforcement Statistics for May 16 to August 15, 2023:

Within Kneehill County and Hamlets: • 34 Citations: 22 Warnings, 4 Traffic Tickets, 8 Bylaw Tickets, 1 Court Appearance 155/100 zone • 12 Animal Control • 11 General bylaw files • 3 Unsightly files • 2 assist Fire/RCMP • 10 School and community program visits, including Library, Seniors Outreach, Acme Color Run, Fire Safety talks, Track and Field events, and Bike Rodeos • Rural Patrols – 505 Patrols totalling 321 hours. • Targeted Patrols – 11 Patrols totaling 7 hours. • Two-speed signs put into operation by mid-August in various locations. These help us with our patrol schedules and slows down the traffic. We purposely do not show speeds over the posted limit as we don’t want drivers to try for “high speed” numbers. Within Contracted Municipalities (we charge for hours): • 2 Citations under Traffic Safety Act • 25 Animal Control • 22 General bylaw files • 24 Unsightly files • Urban contracted Patrols – 98 Patrols totaling 42 hours.” Council accepted the report as presented.

Item 5.4.1 Under Economic Development, Council had to give official orders that Councillors “could” attend The 2023 Post Election Alberta Tourist Advocacy Summit and be suitably reimbursed for expenses. The Summit was on Monday, Sept. 25. The motion was passed unanimously.

Three items under “Corporate Services” had to do with taxes;

Item 6.1 is an Annual Tax Cancellation process and the motion approved reads as follows:

“That Council approve the cancellation of 2023 taxes for Gas Co-ops as per Policy 16-15; and the cancellation of the portion of the Grants in Place of Taxes Program not paid by the Province for Roll # 30211533000.”

Item 6.2 Bylaw 1891 Residential Tax Arrears Payment Plan.

“That Council provide third and final reading to Bylaw #1891 to authorize the establishment of a Tax Arrears Payment Plan”. This is to spell out terms and conditions by which Tax Arrears may be paid in installments.

Item 6.3 Bylaw 1890 Tax Penalty Bylaw replaces an early and out-of-date Bylaw and takes effect in January 2024. Council gave 1st, 2nd, and unanimous consent for 3rd and then 3rd and final reading of this Bylaw.

Item 6.4 is the “Operating and Project Forecasts.

In way of explanation, this is given: “Provincial (cite)- MGA section 283.1 requires municipalities to prepare three-year operating and five-year capital forecasts”

Marika von Mirbach, Financial Planning Coordinator, prepared and presented a thorough analysis to accomplish the goals as given here: “These forecasts are not budgets and do not provide administration with the authority to spend the forecasted funds. However, they are intended to provide Council with a forward-looking view of the upcoming financial challenges and opportunities facing the municipality. This report contains the 2024-2027 Operating Forecast (Appendix A), a Summary of Funding Pressures for each year (Appendices B-E) and the 2024-2029 Capital and Project Forecast (Appendix F). This report represents four years of forecasting for operating expenses, and six years of forecasting for projects in order to fulfill the MGA forecasting requirements for the 2023 and 2024 budget cycles.” Council approved the Forecasts, as presented.

Legislative Services covered the following:

7.1 Kneehill Medical R&R Task Force Report provides updates on activities, financial status, budget, and projections for the future. This from the report informs what the Task Force engages in to reach out to potential doctors for this region.

Activities by Task Force, including any Working Groups/Sub-Committees. In an effort to retain and recruit physicians, a variety of endeavours were completed by the Task Force. In 2023, some activities done by the Kneehill Regional Medical Services Retention and Recruitment Task Force include, but are not limited to the following items: Funding a doctor recruitment luncheon for Medical Residents in Red Deer, Ab. This event allows a Task Force Representative and a local Doctor Representative to network with future doctors and provide information about the region; Taking prospective doctors out for lunch or supper when they are visiting the Kneehill Medical Clinic. This is an opportunity to network, as well as promote the region; Purchasing gifts for existing doctors to show appreciation and to acknowledge holidays. For example, Christmas gifts, birthday cards, baking for professional days, etc.; Financial incentives provided to encourage doctors to work in the region; Provision of locum accommodations as a retention item for existing doctors; Encouraged community recognition by placing ads in the local newspaper for National Physicians Day and Alberta Rural Health Week.

Council received for information the 2023 Kneehill Medical Services Retention and Recruitment Task Force Annual report.

7.2 FCSS Proposed Budget. Received as presented.

7.3 Review of Affordable Housing Funding Programs - Proposed RMA Resolution

“That Council provide support for Wheatland County’s proposed RMA resolution regarding Affordable Housing Funding Programs.”

To be aware of the idea behind this resolution, the following gives insight into the thinking and direction Councils are going.

“The resolution being proposed by Wheatland County is seeking to have changes made to the Affordable Housing Partnership Program to require fewer upfront expenditures and to have a dedicated rural funding stream. Administration believes that this would be of benefit to Kneehill County and other rural municipalities and recommends support. Please note that Wheatland County has made additions to the proposed resolution after its review at the recent Kneehill County Committee of the Whole Meeting. The following has been added: ‘In light of the pressing need to expand affordable housing options in Alberta, it is imperative that we take a page from the playbook of Premier Peter Lougheed’s era of efficient hospital construction. During that time, Alberta saw significant capital investment in healthcare facilities, with a focus on streamlined design that was replicated in about 20 builds across various communities. This standardization facilitated timely approval of construction-ready projects, eliminating the need to expend tax dollars on multiple sets of pre-design, schematic design, design development, and architectural construction documents for each new facility. We are requesting applying similar methodology to affordable housing project construction. Utilizing such a process could not only save millions of dollars per project, but it could also expedite construction timelines and slash bureaucratic red tape surrounding funding allocation. As we consider adopting a similar approach, it is crucial that extensive engagement be conducted to ensure that the new scalable modular designs meet the diverse and evolving needs of Albertans, now and into the future.’”

7.4 2024 Municipal Internship Program Housing.

This is an opportunity for the County to apply for and then hire an “Intern”. This is best explained with the following as presented to Council.

The Alberta Municipal Affairs Internship Program is Canada’s largest and longest-running program of its kind. The program targets recent post-secondary graduates and is geared towards industry succession planning. Each year, a few willing municipalities are chosen as hosts for interns for different training streams (administration, finance, or land use). At least two alumni from the program are currently employed by Kneehill County. This is an 18-month program which would start in May of 2024. During their time in the municipality, the intern would spend time in all municipal areas assisting and learning. Municipal Affairs provides a grant of $60,000 to host municipalities to help with expenses such as salary, benefits, training, PPE, computer, etc. with the expectation that hosts top up this amount. Interested applicants apply to Municipal Affairs who confirm their eligibility for the program and pass the list of candidates on to host municipalities. From that pool, the host conducts its own hiring process and the selected candidate is hired as a municipal staff member. The deadline for application is October 1st .

Making an application does not guarantee that a municipality will be chosen as a host. Administration believes that Kneehill County can provide an environment and learning opportunity that would be of value to an intern. We also believe that an intern would be able to assist Kneehill County with a number of our ongoing projects and programs.

Administration is suggesting consideration of the Administration stream. CAO Haugen would act as the supervisor and has previously supervised other interns.

Administration estimates that after applying grant funding, costs to the municipality would likely be between $55,000 - $65,000 over 18 months.

Administration is suggesting that for this term position, funding could be provided from the expected 2023 surplus. As reported in the most recent Quarterly Variance Report, a surplus related to staff vacancies is expected at year-end. Some of this surplus could be allocated and used to fund the County’s portion of this position for the 18 months, meaning that additional tax revenue would not be required to support this initiative. If approved, Administration will make the necessary adjustments in future variance reports and budgets.

Administration estimates approximately $55,000 to $65,000 would be required over 18 months (spanning two budgets) and that this could be covered through reallocation of expected 2023 surplus. Staff time would also be required for supervision and mentoring.

Council directed Administration to submit an application for Kneehill County to be a host municipality for the 2024 Municipal Internship Program.

Earlier in the meeting Council took a 10-minute break and then upon resuming the session Reeve Wittstock welcomed Jim Northcott, School Trustee for the Acme, Linden, Carbon Schools. Acme received approval and Government Funding in February 2004 for a new school.

The design and cost estimate for the construction of the school allowed for a gymnasium of 595m2. If the gym were expanded to 915m2 it would accommodate Provincial Tournaments. It will also serve as a venue for Community gatherings.

The Acme Alumni is undertaking fundraising to cover the additional costs. Council had previously allocated funding to the project. Mr. Northcott was presenting the proposed changes and requesting additional funding.

Later in the meeting “…Council confirmed additional funding to bring the total amount of $100,000 for the Acme School project for the purposes of enlarging the gymnasium with funding to come from the Transitional Reserve.”

Items 9.1 to 9.5 are Council and Committee Reports

9.1 Community Futures Wild Rose Annual Report. Councillor Wade Christie is Vice Chair of CFWR and had a copy of the Annual Report and the Strategic Plan for the next three years which was submitted to Council.

Item 9.2 Was the Police Advisory Committee (PAC) Report.

Councillor Laura Lee Machell-Cunningham presented the PAC Report. From it, these are a few of the highlights as it pertains to the County.

“RCMP Update Sgt. Day gave an update on crime stats for the Three Hills Detachment areas. The Detachment is still incredibly busy. Person crime, extortion and mental health calls are on the rise. Property crime is decreasing. The Corporal position is in place and just waiting to have it filled. The Youth Academy was a huge success. There were nine cadets who took part. There were several sections of the RCMP that participated in giving presentations to the cadets. Three Hills Victim Services provided all of the food for the week. There were also lots of other donations as well. Three Hills Victim Services has donated some funds so the program can continue for some time to come. The e-scooters have been a big hit with the residents of every community. There is a noticeable increase in e-scooters in the town of Three Hills. Red Deer County Red Deer County Patrol has been dealing with some bylaw complaints as well as speeding and education. There is a possibility of a School Resource Officer position being added. Council is very supportive of the position. Delburne Council has approved the installation of some cameras for Main Street as well as a few other locations. The Servus Credit Union had someone try to take the ATM. They didn’t get anything, but the persons responsible left a very big mess. There have also been some people moving into town recently who are less than desirable.

Kneehill County The RCMP members are being noticed and their presence is appreciated. There’s been an increase in rural crime with some prolific offenders who have been getting out of jail recently. The Patrol members are up to full capacity. They have given out 36 tickets since May 13.”

9.3 Marigold Library System Report- A general report for the Marigold Library System. They are going to have more online meetings rather than incur the expenses of travel to Strathmore for which Marigold would be covering travel expenses. The ”Old Building” in Strathmore has been sold.

9.4 CAEP Report Central Alberta Economic Partnership. They are going to do more “In-house” work. Also will be changing their meeting schedule and how long each meeting will run.

9.5 Post-Election Alberta Tourism Advocacy Summit. Several Councillors attended the Post Election Tourism Advocacy Summit on September 25. They shared “highlights” that they “took away” from the conference and networking. It was reported that 10 percent of the province’s income comes from tourists coming to Alberta.

Once the Councillor reports were accepted as presented, Council reviewed the Follow-up Action List and then moved to a Closed Session with one item.

11.1 Personnel Update (Section 17-FOIP)

Council came out of Closed Session at 1:56. There were no motions from the Closed Session.

Council adjourned at 1:57 p.m.