Council declines funding request from private Ultrasound business

Kneehill Logo 2019

Kneehill County held a regular meeting of council on Tuesday April 13, 2021, which was called to order at 8:30 a.m. by Reeve Jerry Wittstock.

The first item on the council’s agenda was item 3.1 Delegation, Ultrasound Services, presented by Robert & Erica Paxton, which occurred at 8:30 am.

They were asking for Kneehill County to provide them funding to provide ultrasound services within the Kneehill Medical Clinic in Three Hills.

Their goal is to provide high-quality ultrasound services to the town of Three Hills and surrounding Kneehill County communities.

Their plan is to operate an ultrasound clinic out of a single room in the Kneehill Medical Centre, providing patients with both general ultrasound exams and echocardiograms, while working directly with the local physicians of Kneehill to ensure local patients get the quality care they need.

The medical clinic is a tenant of Kneehill County. Sublets within the medical clinic should be left to the discretion (within reason) of the medical clinic. Any rental support should be negotiated between those two private businesses.

County has traditionally not provided start-up funding or operating subsidies to private businesses.

Kneehill County cannot make commitments for use of Medical Clinic staff (reception and billing teams). These staff are employed by the Medical Clinic.

Council declined the request to provide funding for a private ultrasound business and requested administration to refer the company to their Economic Development Officer for support.

Next on the Council’s agenda was item 5.4.1, Community Emergency Management Program- 2020 Review, presented by Debra Grosfield, Manager of Protective Services and Director of Emergency Management.

Annually, The Alberta Emergency Management Agency conducts a review of local emergency management programs. the Community Emergency Management Plan (CEMP) is reviewed as a group with representatives from Acme, Carbon, Linden, Kneehill County, Trochu and Three Hills.

Their 2020 review included that they are the first official regional under Ministerial Order in the Central area. Their last tabletop exercise was in Oct. 2018 and they held a regional plus neighbor workshop in Dec. 2019.

In 2020, they conducted training, including Business Continuity Training (Kneehill County), as well as regional training (ICS 200, ICS 300, and DEM).

Also, in 2020, Kneehill County had the Swalwell train incident in Feb., Acme had the overland flooding event, and all of us experienced a pandemic.

Kneehill County has three trained members as part of the Central Region All Hazards Incident Management (CRAHIMT).

They also received a $17,000 grant for “Training Week” throughout the region and hope to complete in 2021.

As they are now under a Ministerial Order to operate as a Regional Advisory and Agency, they are working to update their meetings and plans to reflect this.

There are some legislative requirements that our current plan does not meet. They are expecting this review and re-write of the plan to occur by the end of 2021.

Council accepted the Community Emergency Management Program 2020 Review by Alberta Emergency Management Agency as presented for information.

Council recommended Emergency Management Elected Officials Training under the Kneehill Regional Partnership as an initiative.

Next item on the Council’s agenda was item 6.1, Bylaw 1833, Borrowing Guarantee, presented by Bill McKennan, Director of Corporate Services.

Pursuant to the Municipal Government Act, Section 266, Council may only guarantee the repayment of a loan between a lender and a non-profit organization or one of its controlled corporations if the guarantee is authorized by bylaw. Council gave first reading of Bylaw 1833 at its meeting held on March 9, 2021.

The necessary public advertising of the bylaw including the requirements to file a petition and obtain additional information was advertised in The Capital Newspaper on Mar. 17 and 24, that were met.

Electors were also advised that the deadline to file a petition was April 8, 2021, and there has been no petition file.

The final reading of the Bylaw would be April 13, 2021.

Council provided second reading to Bylaw 1833, that being a bylaw to authorize the guarantee of a loan by the Town of Trochu.

Council provided third and final reading to Bylaw 1833, that being a bylaw to authorize the guarantee of a loan by the Town of Trochu.

Next item on the agenda was item 6.2, To Set Reserve Bid for Public Auction, presented by Caroline Siverson, Property Tax Officer.

The reserve bid was based on an opinion of value from a local realtor and a review of the assessment. As the trailer is not habitable and the property requires some clean up, the value is in the land and not the improvements.

The realtor provided some comparable properties that have sold, and administration believes that $17,000 is a fair market value for this property.

The landowner has the ability to pay the taxes in full or to enter into a 3-year tax agreement at any time prior to 2:00 pm on the date of sale, as per (4) of Section 418, MGA.

Pursuant to the Municipal Government Act, Part 10, Section 8, Council set the reserve bid for Roll 32263445100, Plan 5594FI, Block 6, Lot 4, Torrington at $15,000 with the following conditions.

The property must not be sold for less than the reserve bid, the purchaser takes possession of the property “as is”, the purchaser will be responsible for the full 2021 levy, the purchaser is to pay all transfer costs, the purchaser to pay GST, the full purchase price must be paid by a certified cheque or cash by end of business, May 27, 2021.

Next on the agenda was item 8.1, Community Futures Wild Rose – “Mastering Recovery” Project Support, presented by Jacqueline Buchanan, Economic Development Officer.

Community Futures Wild Rose, in response to the Business Retention and Expansion Survey in 2020, and in response to address the challenges and barriers faced by rural businesses within the CF Wild Rose, wishes to initiate a project to address Marketing and Mental Health Barriers that businesses are facing through the Mastering Recovery initiative with a project value of $115,000.00.

The proposed project will provide businesses within the CF Wild Rose Region with access to specialized supports to identify challenges, develop strategies and an action plan within their Marketing Plan.

The project will cost approximately $115,000.00. They will be seeking grant funding to cover the majority cost of the project. Community Futures is asking Kneehill County to consider contributing a cash and/or in-kind contribution, as well as a letter in support of this project.

Council supported the Community Futures Wild Rose Mastering Recovery project through a letter of support, $1000.00 contribution and in-kind administrative support as required.

Next on the agenda was item 8.2, Seniors Outreach Annual General Meeting, presented by Mike Haugen, CAO.

Administration received a request from the Seniors Outreach Program. Seniors Outreach will be hosting Seniors Week program from June 7-13, 2021. They are requesting attendance from the Reeve or alternate to attend the launch on Monday, June 7, 2021. They are also requesting a greeting from the County either in person or done by a pre-recorded presentation.

Council authorized the attendance of the Reeve or alternate to attend either in person or in a pre-recorded presentation to the Seniors Week Launch being held on Monday, June 7, 2021.

Item 8.3, Kneehill Regional Partnership – Training Partnerships, was next on the agenda.

The Kneehill Regional Partnership is a group composed of representatives from Kneehill County, Three Hills, Trochu, Linden, Acme, and Carbon. The Kneehill Regional Partnership exists to explore ways in which the members can provide services or programs jointly with the intent of providing services within the region more efficiently and economically.

The Partnership also provides another forum for sharing ideas and creating the ability to pursue opportunities regionally that may not be feasible for a single party to pursue alone.

The third focus of the Partnership is to provide training opportunities for its membership.

Council submitted the following initiatives to the Kneehill Regional Partnership as options for exploring regionalization or regional partnerships:

1. Engineering for Elected Official Training

2. Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework Refresher Training

3. Economic Development for Elected Officials

Next on the council’s agenda was item 8.4, Kneehill Urban & Rural Advocacy Society, also presented by Haugen.

The Society is planning a Ratepayer Meeting event and is requesting Council’s attendance. The event would be held via a virtual format on April 19, 2021 at 7:00 pm.

Council communicates with the community in several different ways and at different levels, depending upon the intent of the communication and level of engagement being conducted. Council has held Ratepayer Meetings in the past.

Most recently in 2019 two events were held in Trochu and Acme. Council planned on holding similar events in Torrington and Carbon in 2020, but due to COVID concerns and restrictions these events were cancelled.

Council’s approved 2021 budget includes provisions for holding ratepayer meetings dependent upon COVID restrictions. Other formats are also being explored based on the projection of continued COVID restrictions.

Council declined the request to attend the Kneehill Urban & Rural Advocacy Society Meeting and invite them to attend council as a delegation.

Next on the Councils agenda was item 3.2 Delegation, Accurate Assessment, presented by Troy Birtles, Ray Fortin, Sean Barrett, and Kris Meadows, which occurred at 10:00 am.

The desired objective of their presentation was for information only and to provide Council with important information pertaining to changes in the Assessment Base from the 2019 to 2020 Assessment Year. This includes residential, non-residential, Farmland, DIP, and Linear (from a high level) assessments.

Total residential assessment base has increased by 1%, non-residential assessment has increased by 3%, designated industrial property assessment has decreased 7%, the linear assessment has decreased by 3%, and the farmland assessment has remained the same.

Beginning in Jan 2020, the Government of Alberta undertook a review of the assessment model for regulated oil and gas properties. On Oct. 19, Tracy Allard, Minister of Alberta Municipal Affairs announced that none of the four assessment scenarios for wells, pipelines, machinery and equipment proposed, by the assessment services branch, will be implemented.

Instead, there is a 3-year municipal and education tax exemption for new wells and pipelines. A Well Drilling Equipment Tax (WDET) has been eliminated permanently.

There will be additional depreciation for low productivity wells, and continuation of the shallow gas well and associated pipelines assessment reduction that was introduced in 2019, will continue to be applied for the 2021 to 2024 tax year.

Council received the Accurate Assessment presentation for information.

Next on council’s agenda was item 8.6, Doctor Recruitment and Retention Task Force Terms of Reference, presented by Haugen.

The Kneehill Regional Partnership is undertaking a review and rewrite of the Doctor Recruitment and Retention Task Force Terms of Reference. As part of this project, member municipalities and the Task Force itself are being consulted with.

The first consultation phase is aimed at gathering high level input with the intent of gathering more specific input later in the process after broad goals have been determined.

Council was given a questionnaire to establish the broad parameters and goals the Task Force should have.

Deputy Reeve McGhee said that it’s not about recruiting them, it’s not about retaining them, it’s about providing an environment conducive to good business for the medical industry.

Council discussed being advocates for change, and they think a role of the task force in the future should be an advocate or lobbyist for health care improvement in support of our doctors.

Council also discussed to make the recruitment about economic and community development, and not about a specific business.

Council directed administration to provide feedback to the Kneehill Regional Partnership as discussed.

Next on the Councils agenda was item 3.3 Delegation, Agriculture Hall of Fame, presented by David Price, occurring at 11:00 am, for Council to formally congratulate him on his achievement.

Every 2 years, Alberta’s Agriculture Hall of Fame recognizes up to 3 individuals whose outstanding leadership, innovation and business practices have advanced Alberta’s agriculture and food industry at the provincial level or beyond.

One of the 2020 inductees to the Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame was David Price. David Price is a long-time resident of Kneehill County and has been an innovator and visionary in swine genetics, production, processing and marketing for more than 50 years in this County.

Council received for information.

Meeting adjourned, the next Kneehill Council Meeting will be held on April, 27 2021 at 8:30 am in the Council Chambers.