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Convention, budget deliberations will start off term for newly elected town council

Town of Elk Point gets $83,072 top-up from Federal Gas Tax Fund.
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ELK POINT - With two mayoral candidates now in the running and just under two months to go before the Town of Elk Point’s municipal election, the calendar for the mayor and councillors elected that day is already starting to fill up, with the annual Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) conference and the dates for the operating and capital budget special meetings on last week’s council agenda. 

It is customary for Elk Point town council and the CAO to attend the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association convention in the years where that event is held in Edmonton, and a motion has now been passed to approve their registration for year’s convention, Nov. 17 to 19.  Hotel reservations that tend to sell out rapidly at convention time were made early to ensure availability. 

The Municipal Government Act requires municipalities to adopt both an operating budget and a capital budget each year, and both need to be in place by Dec. 31 so that operations can continue into the new year. Council agreed on Nov. 29 and 30 for the meetings, where the administration will provide initial proposals for council’s feedback in time for the budgets to be finalized by the end of 2021.

Lift station upgrade underway

CAO Ken Gwozdz told Elk Point town council Monday night that work has begun on the long awaited sewer lift station upgrade, with the subcontractors “having some difficulty, running into wire and concrete,” and at one point, having several vacuum trucks on site last week.  He provided council with a timeline of the upgrades to be undertaken, with work on the project continuing through most of September.

Gwozdz also noted that the new VOIP phones are operational in the Public Works office and shop and the fire hall, but the transition was less smooth at Elk Point Municipal Library, where, after much consideration, the library board executive and librarian made the decision to stay with the original phones. It is now possible to once again reach the library at the number listed in the phone book. 

Taxes slow to come in

To date, only 48 per cent of this year’s property taxes have come in, Gwozdz said, “and it should be 75 per cent by now, it’s a sign of the economy. We aim for 90 per cent.”

Sometimes, those taxes just never do get paid. A residential property that was taken over by the Town for unpaid taxes has been secured with help from RCMP Sgt. David Henry and the Public Works department, after Bylaw Enforcement Officer Tammy Goddu had served the necessary affidavits on the occupant.

That property was back on council’s agenda later in the meeting, when council directed the administration to request proposals from local real estate agencies for sale of the property, with those proposals and their cost to be brought to the Sept. 13 council meeting.

Policies back on the agenda

Drafts of five new regional Human Resources policies were brought forward for council’s approval, with the Overtime Policy, Termination and Employment Policy and Pay Administration and Method of Payment of Earned Pay Policy all getting council’s approval. The Recruitment and Selection Policy and Performance Improvement and Progressive Discipline Policy were determined to need minor changes and will come back to council, with the town’s personnel policy to be revised by deleting the articles pertaining to the matters covered by the five new policies once all are approved.

Transfer station agreement

The Transfer Station Joint Use and Operations Agreement between the Town of Elk Point and the County of St. Paul has been changed to allow for a joint operating committee similar to the one that exists between the county and the Town of St. Paul, and members that sit on the committee will be appointed for four-year terms. Council moved to approve the draft agreement for operation of the jointly owned facility.

Long weekend ups utility bill

It has suggested that council amend the bylaw dealing with utility bills to allow water meters to be read prior to long weekends that involve the first day of the month, after a utility customer wrote to question the additional charge for more than the base amount of water when the meter was not read until after the Aug.2 holiday, rather than on the last day of July. The overage charge is to be credited to the customer’s bill for water used in August, as council agreed that many customers keep close tabs on the amount of water they use each month, to keep it within the base amount.

EcoCentre sub-lease

Council approved directing town administration to renew the sub-lease with the County of St. Paul for the use of part of the EcoCentre building that accommodates the FCSS offices. The sub-lease has now been approved by both the town and county for a two-year term, ending in April 2023.

Good news

Mayor Lorne Young had “a bit of good news” for council, reporting that Elk Point’s allocation under the Federal Gas Tax Fund is $179,012, including a one-time top-up of $83,072, which was approved by the federal government in March in recognition of the critical role our communities play in a safe restart and to reduce the risk of infrastructure projects being put on hold due to funding restraints.