Council reviews Three-Year Operating and Five-Year Capital Forecasts

Kneehill Logo 2019

Kneehill County held a regular meeting of council on Tuesday Aug. 17, 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, Community Futures Wildrose, presented by Wendy Gerbrandt.

Community Futures Wild Rose presented a new program, Community Business Investment Program. It is a collective initiative with municipalities for Business improvement.

Kneehill County assisted Community Futures in the re-development of this incentive program to better support rural business.

Economic Development allocated $2,700.00 in the 2021 budget to accommodate this program.

If Council chooses to implement the Community Business Investment Program, the associated policy will be presented at the next Regular Meeting of Council for further review and decision

Council directed Administration to proceed in partnering with Community Futures Wild Rose to implement the Community Business Investment Program and directs Administration to bring the associated policy to Council for decision.

Next on the Council’s agenda was item 5.1.1, Bylaw 1844, Redesignation from Agriculture District to Light Industrial District, presented by Brandy Morgan, Development Officer.

Micheal and Rochelle Daniels have applied to redesignate a 1,088 m2 portion of NE 21-33-26 W4, Plan 141 2515, Block 2, Lot 1 from the Agriculture District to Light Industrial District.

Recent amendments to Land Use Bylaw 1808 have included requirements for micro cultivation and micro processing as a permitted use in the Light Industrial District. Applications for Cannabis Micro Cultivation and Cannabis Micro Processing are required to redesignate their property (or a portion of the property) to the Light Industrial District.

The purpose of the Light Industrial District is to provide for the development of land uses under individually unique circumstances requiring site-specific controls where the application of conventional land use districts would be inappropriate or inadequate.

Billy GOAT Farms is the company formed by Micheal and Rochelle Daniels. They are proposing to open a cannabis micro cultivation and add micro processing to the facility in the future. The applicants will be constructing a new shop to house the business located on their property. The site will have a fence that will meet the Health Canada requirements and they have started the process in applying for their Micro-Cultivation license with Health Canada.

They intend to grow cannabis plants and sell the bulk dried flower to other licensed producers. The applicants intend to build the building to resemble the others on the site. The applicant is required to obtain a license through Health Canada.

Redesignation fee is $900 payable by the applicant.

Council moved first reading of proposed Bylaw 1844 for the purpose of amending Land Use Bylaw 1808 by redesignating a portion of the NE 21-33-26 W4, Plan 141 2515, Block 2, Lot 1 from the Agriculture District to Light Industrial.

Council moved to schedule the Public Hearing, as per Section 230 & 692 of the Municipal Government Act, to be held on Sept. 14, 2021, at 10:00 a.m.

Next on the agenda was item 5.2.1, Three Hills East Water Consultation, presented by Mike Haugen, CAO.

At the July 20, 2021, Council meeting, through motion 287/21, Council directed administration to explore further into four options that were presented.

Kneehill County has approached WSP to provide a proposal for preparing a feasibility study to provide water service to the Three Hills East area. The proposal will have the consultant delve into a full flow water system and a stand-alone bulk water station. This feasibility study will review the serviceability of a reservoir and/or bulk water station from the three identified sources, outline the options and budgetary estimates for the placement of a water distribution system as well will demonstrate a full flow system with supporting reservoir storage along with review of the options and budgetary cost of a stand-alone bulk water system with the required storage.

The study will also provide conceptual locations for reservoir and/or bulk water stations, identify any environmentally sensitive or historical considerations that may have to be considered, and identify any utilities and/or pipeline conflicts. A high-level water modeling will be performed to incorporate into the study identifying flows and required storage. Most of the study will be a desktop study but the consultant will perform a site reconnaissance of all alignments and proposed storage location.

This process will identify any anomalies or risks that may not have been previously identified. The timeline for the feasibility study to be completed is estimated to be eight weeks from the acceptance of the proposal. It has been noted that the schedule could be impacted if COVID 19 restrictions/protocols were to be enhanced.

Cost for the consultant to prepare a feasibility report is $21,710 plus GST.

Council directed administration to pursue the Three Hills East Water Feasibility Study as per the proposal from the consultant with funding from 2021 operating budget as a special project.

Next on the Council’s agenda was item 5.3.1, Agriculture Disaster Declaration, presented by Shelby Sherwick, Manager of Parks & Agriculture Services.

This item has been brought forward by Reeve Wittstock and Councillor King. Based on the impact of environmental conditions on the state of agriculture in Kneehill County, information has been prepared for Council discussion regarding a declaration of agricultural disaster.

The 2021 season has yielded very challenging environmental conditions in the region, with lack of seasonal rain and a prolonged heat wave in June and July, leading to prolonged drought conditions and impacts on sources of feed and crop yields in Kneehill County.

The Alberta Crop Report conditions from July 27, 2021, shows All Crops in the Central Region listed as 16.1% in Good to Excellent Condition, compared to the 5-year average of 75.1%.

Moisture conditions have been severely dry across most of the County and vary by region, with some areas experiencing less than 1 in 50 and less than 1 in 100-year dry conditions, according to provincial moisture data.

The Rural Municipalities of Alberta has developed a guide for declaring municipal agricultural disasters in Alberta, which the Administration has followed to gather the information in the accompanying presentation.

As of Aug. 5, 2021, 25 rural municipalities across Alberta have declared an agricultural disaster.

From the RMA Guide, municipal declarations of agricultural disasters do not automatically trigger access to increased funding programs, provincially or federally. Declaring municipal agricultural disasters may serve as indicators for province-wide declarations and can bring awareness to challenges facing agriculture in specific areas of the province.

Council declared an Agricultural Disaster for Kneehill County.

Next on the agenda was item 5.4.1, Bylaw 1800- Proposed Traffic Control Bylaw, presented by Debra Grosfield, Protective Services Manager.

The Traffic Bylaw regulates traffic for public safety purposes on Kneehill County roads. Council passed First Reading of Bylaw 1800 on July 20, 2021. It was recommended that time be given for ratepayer consultation to be completed regarding reducing speed limits in hamlets from 50km/hr to 40km/hr by Councillors.

The following bylaws are no longer required, therefore will be rescinded, and are covered in this new version of the Traffic Control Bylaw. Current Traffic Control Bylaw and amending bylaws: 1545, 1529, 1520. Speed Control Bylaws specific to certain areas: 1634, 1631, 1613, 1594, 1580, 1469, 1464, 1457, 1430, 1375, 1332, 1274, 1269, 1056 Bridge Limits (weights) - 1538, 1535, 1526, 1521, 1465, 1458, 1302, 1271. Having bylaws for individual bridges is quite concerning when the structure may be altered at any time and the weights would be engineered to reflect the structure.

This bylaw is considered an enforcement tool to be able to properly distribute fines and penalties where a contravention exists. The fines revenue would be coded accordingly in our General Ledger. They have three CPO’s that can include its enforcement in their regular duties. Some signage would need to be erected to ensure speed limits are posted correctly; cost to be covered within the 2021 operating budget.

Council approved Second Reading of Bylaw 1800 Traffic Control as presented.

Council directed administration to draft a letter to railway companies to request them to mow their right of ways along the tracks within the hamlets of Kneehill County.

The next item on the agenda was item 5.4.2, Kneehill Area Fire and Emergency Management Mutual Aid Agreement, presented by Grosfield.

Upon the individual Inter-Municipal Collaboration Framework fire sub-agreements being accepted, the “Master Fire Agreement” of all municipalities was rescinded. These fire sub-agreements are between Kneehill County and each municipality. The Kneehill Area Fire Services and Emergency Management Mutual Aid Agreement proposed allows for mutual aid calls amongst all party jurisdictions. (For example, Three Hills can ask for mutual aid from Trochu). The Fire Services agreements reference Mutual Aid Agreements may be entered into outside of that agreement.

The Kneehill Region Emergency Partnership Agreement also references a Fire Mutual Aid Agreement and Emergency Mutual Aid Agreement to be entered into amongst the municipalities to support emergencies. Administration combined these services into one agreement for simplicity.

Council approved the Kneehill Area Mutual Aid Agreement dated Aug. 2021 with the municipalities of Acme, Carbon, Linden, Three Hills and Trochu for the purposes of mutual aid fire and emergency responses within each other’s jurisdictions.

The next item on the Council’s agenda was item 5.4.3, RCMP and Council’s Priorities, presented by Grosfield.

Kneehill County has five RCMP detachments serving the area; Three Hills, Innisfail, Drumheller, Beiseker, and Olds. All detachments have Quarterly Reports that they have based on in relation to Council’s priorities for the community, however, the county does not have Innisfails.

Kneehill County Council’s priorities were set in Jan. 2021 as: Staffing compliments (communicating to us if they are fully staffed or short), Rural Crime Prevention, enforcement and education, Presence in Rural Communities, Road Safety, and Working with Kneehill’s CPO’s in delivery of enforcement and education.

As part of their accountability to our community, RCMP are providing Council’s with reporting on statistics, community engagement, and community priorities.

Three Hills provided a report to Administration on Rural Patrols they completed in the same quarter (April 1 thru to June 25): Allingham 7, Equity 10, Ghost Pine Creek 9, Huxley 38, Sunnyslope 17, Three Hills 43, Trochu 99.

Kneehill County Enforcement Statistics for April 1 thru to June 30th: 198 Citations under Traffic Safety Act: 111 Warnings, 84 Tickets, five Assist other Agencies or departments (traffic accidents, RCMP, departments), six Animal Control files, four Unsightly Property files, nine other Bylaw calls (including fire bylaw), 13 information calls (incl. referring residents to RCMP, AB Wildlife, etc.).

Kneehill County Enforcement Statistics for April 1 thru to June 30th in Contract Communities (Acme, Carbon, Linden, Trochu, Three Hills): 30 Citations under Traffic Safety Act, 29 Incident Reports (including bylaw enforcement), nine information calls (incl. referring residents to RCMP or other).

Kneehill County Highway and Community Patrols JULY 2021: Over 100 hours of Kneehill County’s rural roads and highways, 84% of the 456 vehicles recorded were going the speed limit or less, 6 Positive Tickets were issued; interactions included being waved down and thanked by three farmers who were running equipment near the roads, assisting a farmer whose tractor broke down, handing out new flags for equipment transports.

Kneehill County now pays a portion of Policing Funding through a Provincial Requisition. Included in this year’s operating budget is $239,589 under the Protective Services Department (General Ledger Code 26) for provincial funding towards policing. Kneehill County has Enforcement Services Contracts with Acme and Three Hills that includes patrol hours, and contracts with Carbon, Linden, and Trochu that are on-call basis.

Council accepted the RCMP Quarterly Report and Kneehill County Enforcement Report as presented.

The Council’s next item on the agenda was item 6.1, Three-Year Operating and Five-Year Capital Forecasts, presented by Bill McKennan, Director of Corporate Services and Marika von Mirbach, Financial Planning Coordinator.

The Municipal Government Act (MGA) requires municipalities to prepare both three-year operating (financial plan) and five-year capital forecasts (capital plan). Council must annually review and update its financial plan and capital plan.

These forecasts are not budgets, and do not provide administration with the authority to spend or commit any of 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 2022-2024 Operating Forecast (Appendix A), a Summary of Funding Pressures for each year (Appendixes B-D) and the Five-Year Capital Forecast (Appendix E).

The Three-Year Operating Forecast (Financial Plan), given significant fiscal challenges over the last decade, administration has been proactive in identifying cost savings in consideration of cost and funding pressures facing the municipality. These pressures relate to a variety of circumstances including provincial policy decisions, as well as: cost pressures, potential service level changes, and new initiatives. These pressures result in forecasted deficits in each of the next three years.

The MGA allows forecasts to present a deficit, but these deficits will need to be addressed during the budget process, as the MGA requires municipalities to adopt balanced budgets. Council will have several options to guide administration to close the forecasted deficits, these options include tax rate increases, service level reductions, and new revenue sources in the form of user fees. These tools are reviewed annually by the Council when administration brings forward the “budget guidelines and directions” for the next fiscal period.

The Five-Year Capital Forecast (Capital Plan) is presented in Appendix E. Council should note this forecast focuses on the renewal of the County’s existing infrastructure and does not include major service expansions such as the Three Hills East Water Project. This forecast is a working document as such administration will be updating the document to reflect asset assessments and other factors. Administration will begin the process of prioritizing all the projects for Council’s consideration in the 2022 budget deliberations.

Council approved the 2022-2024 Three-Year Operating (Appendix A) and Five-Year Capital (Appendix E) Forecasts as presented.

Next item on the agenda was item 6.2, Quarterly Financial Reporting, presented by McKennan.

Council receives quarterly financial reports during the year. These reports are intended to inform the Council of financial transactions to-date and how expenditures, revenues and other financial indicators compare to the annual operating budget and plan which Council has previously approved. The purpose of this report is to: report on the operating budget performance to-date, and to provide other supplementary information on key financial indicators for the municipality. This is the report for the period ending June 30, 2021 (second Quarter).

The County is required under the Municipal Government Act (MGA) to approve both an operating and capital budget which are balanced and fully funded. To achieve this, the budget is prepared on a fiscal viability basis and is monitored and controlled to achieve this desired outcome of a balanced budget. As such, all budgeted revenues must equal budgeted expenditures.

The municipality follows the legislative financial requirements of the MGA and it’s supporting Regulations. In addition, the municipality meets or exceeds all policy statements of the Canada Public Sector Accounting Handbook, which is governed by the Chartered Professional Accountants Canada (CPA).

Council approved the creation of a Disaster Recovery Reserve and that a contribution of $179,090 be approved, related to the DRP funds received from 2018 Overland Flooding.

Council approved a contribution of $134,997, for PERC funds received, to the Revenue Stabilization Reserve.

Council approved all contributions received in 2021, for revenue related to the Gravel Blitz, be placed in the Gravel Reserve.

Council approved an additional draw of $367,081 from the reserves detailed in Appendix C (Over Budget Funding Source) to fund capital projects which are over budget.

Council amended the funding source for the Hastie Highway project from the bridge reserve to utilize MSI funding in the amount of $2,900,000.

Council received the Quarterly Financial Report, for the Period ending June 30, 2021, for information.

Next on the Council’s agenda was item 6.3, Public Tax Auction, presented by Caroline Siverson, Property Tax Officer.

On an annual basis, the County reviews all properties that have been in tax arrears for more than two years and offers those parcels for sale at a public auction as per the Municipal Government Act, Division 8. Council sets the reserve bid and the public auction date and time. The 2021 Tax Sale was held on May 27, 2021, with Roll 32263445100 on the docket. There were no interested parties that attended and there still has been no contact from the owner.

This parcel located in Torrington has had numerous inquiries since the tax sale process was completed. We are recommending that we proceed as per County Policy #16-16 which requires Council to declare the parcel as surplus lands and administration will proceed as per Policy 16-16 Disposition of Surplus Lands Policy.

Selling the property will allow the County to recover the tax arrears in the approximate amount of $3,270 plus an administration fee of 5% of the sales price as per the Municipal Government Act, Section 427(2). All transfer costs would be borne by the winning purchaser. The balance of the funds would be held in trust for the owner to claim; they would have 10 years to claim the funds.

Kneehill County transferred the title for Plan 5591FI, Block 6, Lot 4 to Kneehill County pursuant to the Municipal Government Act, Section 424(1).

Council declared the parcel located at Plan 5591FI, Block 6, Lot 4 as surplus and directs administration to sell the property as per the Disposition of Surplus Lands Policy #16-16.

Next on the agenda was item 8.1, Bylaw 1846- Procedural Bylaw, presented by Haugen.

The Municipal Government Act (S. 145) provides that a municipality may pass a bylaw in relation to the procedures to be followed by Council, Council Committees and other bodies established by Council.

Kneehill County’s Procedural Bylaw has recently been reviewed by Administration and Council at the June 15, Committee of the Whole Meeting. The changes are summarized below.

To allow the Live Streaming of the Committee of the Whole Meetings. To have the Committee of the Whole Package available to the public before the meeting. To replace procedures that were removed/added to facilitate Live Streaming Council meetings to meet all regulatory requirements during COVID. Various textual amendments are proposed to better explain and clarify. Amendments made to the MGA Section S.197 (6)- Names are no longer required of the persons attending a closed meeting to be recorded. Add to the Deputy Reeve role to include that they will now be Chairperson of the Committee of Whole meetings. Have the Public Hearing Agenda Package available to Council before the public hearing, so they have enough time to review all submissions before the hearing. Simplify the Public Hearing Process. To record the names of the people who made a verbal submission during a public hearing and remove the part whether they were in-favour or in opposition to the proposed Bylaw. To remove Section 21 (2) a & b which states adjournment time is no later than 4:30. There is no legislation stating a meeting can’t go passed a certain time. All Councillors before being appointed to a Council Committee or Board, must sign a Statement of Code of Ethics and Conduct form that is attached to the adopted Councillor Code of Conduct and Ethics Bylaw.

Council provided first reading to Bylaw 1846, that being a bylaw for the purpose of regulating meeting proceedings for Council and Council Committee meetings.

Next item on the agenda was item 8.2, Three Hills 2021 FCSS Community Discovery Night, presented by Haugen.

An invitation has been received to attend the FCSS Three Hills Community Discovery Night.

The scheduled date for the Three Hills Community Discovery Night is Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, at the Three Hills Curling Rink from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Council authorized the attendance of Councillor King and Deputy Reeve McGhee to attend the 2021, Three Hills Community Discovery Night.

The next item on the Council’s agenda was item 8.3, Kneehill 4-H Multi-Club Request, presented by Haugen.

Administration received a letter from the Kneehill 4-H Multi-Club requesting financial support to help cover the costs of hosting the 4-H Archery Camp in Carbon on Aug. 20 to 22, 2021.

This is a new event for 4-H and will bring many families to the area. When administration spoke with the organizers, it was mentioned that $500.00 would assist their budget immensely.

The 2021 Operating Budget for Recreation, Community, Arts and Cultural Events Policy #15-7, there is $8930 remaining in G/L account for 2021.

Council provided sponsorship to the Kneehill 4-H Multi-Club in the amount of $500.00 to help cover the costs of hosting the 4-H Archery Camp in Carbon.

The next item on the agenda was item 8.4, Justice Minister Meeting Attendance, presented by Haugen.

The Reeve and Deputy Reeve attended a meeting with the Justice Minister and Solicitor General at the Munson Community Hall on Friday, July 23 to hear concerns/opinions about rural crime in the area as well as ways to modernize the Police Act.

As this was an ad-hoc meeting, and the meeting was scheduled before the next Council meeting, a resolution from Council is requested to receive payment for attendance.

Council authorized the attendance of Reeve Wittstock and Deputy Reeve McGhee to the Justice and Solicitor General Meeting that was held on July 23, 2021.

Meeting adjourned, the next Kneehill Council Meeting will be held on Sept. 14, 2021, at 8:30 am in the Council Chambers.