Trochu Town Council hears report on finances

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All Councilors were present, in-person and by Zoom, for the Regular Meeting of Trochu Town Council on April 12th, 2021. Joining Councilors Reeds, Armstrong, Cunningham, Lumley, Munro, and Stephan was Mayor Kletke, CAO Carl Peterson, Director of Operations Dave Nelson, and Recording Secretary Toni Nelson.

The meeting opened shortly after 6pm, with the adoption of the meeting’s agenda, then headed promptly into the Public Hearing to repeal amending bylaw 2021-02 and amend the Land Use Bylaw 2015-09. Bylaw 2021-02 was previously passed, but with a few incorrect land use designations. Council passed first reading of the new Bylaw at their last meeting, but was required to give the public opportunity to address the changes. No written submissions were received either in support of or opposition to the Bylaw, and no public was present at the meeting. Council kept the hearing open for 40 minutes to allow opportunities for comments. After none were received, the hearing was closed and the bylaw was passed.

Justin Tanner, of Gitzel & Company CPA, presented a delegation to Council which lasted for half an hour. Tanner updated the Council on the Town’s finances. The main message is that finances are in good shape, though tight on cash, largely because of federal grants that have been confirmed but are late to be paid. The Town spent $2.7M on the Lagoon project, and $1.3M in grants have been promised but not all yet received. At the time of the meeting, the Town was overdrawn by $243K. This was not a major concern in Tanner’s opinion.

Tanner noted that revenue budgeted to actual was spot on. Expenses were at $3.3M but budgeted at $2.7M. This difference in expenses actual to budgeted was because the budget did not include amortization, which Tanner said is difficult to predict.

There were no audit issues found. Council signed-off on Tanner’s report.

Dave Nelson presented a Director of Operations report.

He noted that prior to the skating rink ice being removed on March 31, arena rentals were strong in the month of March, including one group who rented the space for 8 hours each Saturday. The Town is glad to have provided this opportunity. Also at the arena, furnace installation is still ongoing and the yoga studio upstairs paid for AC to be installed.

In the midst of organizing, two joined seats from Maple Leaf Garden were found. The leather is torn and needs to be recovered, but it was an interesting find.

Nelson notes that Three Hills crews will be hired to clean the streets of Trochu in May or June, while Trochu’s street sweeper was used to remove some of the gravel from the streets. As well, Operations has outfitted the Town’s new F-550 with plumbing so that it can be used by Communities in Bloom and for other projects. Operations also addressed the shallow ditch on Elevator Road, reshaping it to minimize water running across the road and damaging it.

Just in time for summer, Operations completed an expansion of the ball diamonds, moving the backstop so that midget and bantam teams could use the diamond. Fencing still needs to be completed but would only take a few more days. Much of the fence was able to be recycled, saving costs of the project. Kletke and Council commended Nelson and the Operations team for their great work.

CAO Carl Peterson presented his Administrators’ Report.

In the area of Senior’s Housing, Covenant Health is reviewing the nursing model and business case used elsewhere, and it seems that no changes would need to be made to be used at the new Senior’s Housing facility. The financial agreements with Kneehill County continue to be reviewed, and are proceeding with no red flags on either side. Initial surveying of the subdivision will be completed in April, and units are over 65% sold.

The “Why Trochu?” promotion continues, with over 4000 views on the published videos. The latest video featured Sweet Grass Cafe.

At the swimming pool, interviews took place for filling the manager position. An offer is in the works, with an announcement to come.

And at the arboretum, Peterson says spring clean-up is underway, getting ready for a great summer season.

Council filed the CAO report, then presented reports in each of their areas.

Councilor Armstrong attended a Community Futures Wildrose meeting on April 1 where they were required to sign a five-year agreement with the federal government in order to continue receiving funding.

Councilor Cunningham met with Kneehill Housing Corporation where Justin Tanner approved the Corporation’s audits. Cunningham noted that all residents in the Senior’s Housing buildings in the County were able to be vaccinated if they chose to be. Staff are also eligible for vaccines.

Cunningham wondered what Council’s opinion was about antique farm machinery being placed around town, as had been brought up in a previous Council meeting. He noted that he’s had much interest from nearby farmers with antique machinery to sell.

A few of the Councilors noted that in their travels they have asked residents what they would think of placing antique farm equipment around town. The informal feedback has mostly been not in favour of the idea, especially the idea of cement pads underneath the displays. Wood Chips would better match the aesthetic, but all Councilors agreed this should not be a make-work project for Operations. It was not a decision the Council could make at the moment, so they will be requesting more feedback from residents, likely on social media or the Trochu webpage.

Councilor Lumley attended a Kneehill Regional Partnership Meeting where a tourism advertising initiative was discussed that would have the County paying 75% and the participating municipalities would pay the remaining 25%. The total for the year for the town of Trochu would be $2,250. Council felt that was a good price for the advertising they’d receive. Acme, Carbon, Linden, and Three Hills were also participating. Council motioned to proceed with the tourism project, with the County, at the cost indicated. The motion passed with all Councilors in favour.

Councilor Munro attended a Solid Waste meeting, and will report on this at a later meeting. She also attended the Trochu Library AGM on April 13th.

Deputy Mayor Reeds attended a Capital Purchase Committee meeting. It was decided that only one meeting was necessary per year, with the option to meet as required. From that meeting, Reeds brought a motion for Council’s approval that $35K from the Town’s budget be reserved for the purchase of a half-ton truck for the Town’s use. Council carried this motion.

Mayor Kletke noted that he had a lengthy and encouraging discussion with Great Plains MDF. Great Plains was feeling confident that the mill project would be able to move forward. Kletke also was interviewed on April 1st by Katherine Brownlee for her podcast “Kat’s Tracks.” At the time of meeting, the podcast had not been released but would be sent to Kletke to review before becoming public. Kletke felt that the interview went well, and he was able to share 15-20 minutes of information about Trochu.

Kletke also informed Council that a new business was moving into Trochu; Kingsgate Natural Stone is setting up a small storefront shop next to “Spandy Andy’s” dance studio. The owner was looking for a new location, after previously living in southern Alberta. His research told him that Trochu was in the hub of the industry boom in the province. Council was excited to receive this new business to town.

Council passed the Councilor reports.

The following items were in Correspondence Listing: RCMP 4th Quarter report, ACCPA, FCM Annual Conference 2021, FCM critical new support for municipal infrastructure, Mayors of South-Central AB March 19 Meeting Summary, RDRMUG March 18 meeting minutes. Council noted that they appreciate receiving quarterly RCMP reports. As well, because of the pandemic, Council has been invited to various conferences which are in a virtual format this year, and therefore more affordable to attend.

Council passed the March 2021 Bank Reconciliation with all in favour.

In New Business, Council discussed RFD 2021-04, election decisions. Council decided that the advanced poll could be held at the Town Office, the regular poll will be held at the Curling Rink. Council passed the motion with all in favour.

The second item in New Business was brought forward by CAO Peterson, an idea for a Volunteer of the Term award. He said that the Town used to choose and distribute a Volunteer of the Year award, but this has not been given for several years. Instead he proposed that Council now and going forward choose one volunteer in Council’s four-year term to celebrate. This will be discussed in Council’s upcoming Committee of the Whole meeting.

Council wondered when and how an open house would be able to be held for Trochu Housing Corporation. Peterson noted that June would be the earliest this could happen, and will happen whether it can be in-person or if it has to go online.

Council entered Closed Session at 8:10pm.