ELK POINT – It took three and a half hours, but Elk Point Town Council’s special meeting last Tuesday did not require a second evening of deliberation to take care of the interim 2024 Capital Budget and interim 2024 and 3-Year Operating Budgets, plus a lineup of new business items that resulted from the cancellation of the regular council meeting planned for Nov. 14.
Some of those added items had an impact on the budgets. Participation in a Regional Services Study, for the four municipalities that took part in the Oct, 24 meeting between the councils of the County of St. Paul. Towns of Elk Point and St. Paul and the Summer Village of Horseshoe Bay, was deferred to discussions for the 2025 budget, with Town of Elk Point staff having over a collective 65 years of experience and education in both rural and urban planning and development, and CAO Ken Gwozdz “quite comfortable not hiring a consultant.”
Mayor Parrish Tung was concerned with the budget implications, without knowing the exact amount involved and said, “Why not next year or the year after? I’m not saying no, but we just can’t afford it this year.”
Elk Point Airport
A resolution at the Oct. 26 Airport Committee meeting to direct the councils to pursue joint purchase of the Elk Point Airport with the County of St. Paul was rescinded after going into a closed session at the end of the council meeting. It was noted that the county would want it to remain as it is, while the town would welcome more development in the airport area.
New signage for Fire & Rescue
A quote for replacement of the signage on the Elk Point Fire and Rescue building was approved, with the cost shared with the County of St. Paul, with the quote from the supplier of metal letters to replace the fading vinyl logos and signage, and the town’s share referred to the 2024 budget discussions.
Extravaganza road closure
A request from the Elk Point and District Chamber of Commerce to close 50 St. from Railway Ave. to 51 Ave. from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 24 for the Christmas Extravaganza parade, use of barricades and fire ring and use of the EcoCentre for Elk Point Community Lions to serve hot dogs and hot chocolate that evening was approved. The Town will also donate a prize for the draws.
Public hearing scheduled
The Municipal Controlled Corporation (MCC) called the Elk Point Investment Corporation represents 10 per cent of Askiy Asiniy, a partnership with Frog Lake First Nation and Natural Fibre Technology. The Town’s financial contribution through the MCC is $500,000 and a Federal corporate not-for-profit organization to run parallel with the MCC has been registered as of Oct. 31.
A public hearing is scheduled for the Dec. 11 regular council meeting, which will be held in the Northern Lights Library System boardroom. A draft business plan is available to the public, who would have to register their intention at least five business days in advance if they wish to speak at the hearing.
Council heard that the town’s legal advisors have given approval to going forward, and an offer made for the building which will house a hemp building block business has been accepted, with two customers already indicating interest in the product. After further discussion in the closed session, the purchase was approved pending building and structure inspection.
Council approved the contribution of $500,000, with the initial $150,000 payment to Askiy Asiniy to be made from unrestricted surplus funds and the remaining $350,000 paid later this month from reserves.
An additional $20,000 was put in the Hired Services slot of the 2024 Operating Budget to hire Scott Land and Lease Ltd. to obtain a right of way needed for sewer installation in the future.
After careful scrutiny of the 2024 Draft Capital Budget, 10-Year Draft Capital Plan, 20-Year Draft Public Works Equipment Replacement Plan and 20-Year Draft Fire Department Equipment Replacement Plan, council gave all four their approval.
The 2024 Interim Operating Budget also got a line-by-line going over, with the proposed revenue total up nine per cent from the current year. However, the estimated total expenses added up to 16 per cent more than this year. This could be offset by the sale of industrial land owned by the town. Until that happens, CAO Gwozdz advised, “If it’s not an emergency, don’t do it.”
One factor in the increased expenses is higher cost for water, which will see residential users pay an additional $6 every two months and non-residential users pay an additional $12 every two months above the current year’s $120 for both on the base amount. Water consumption over 28 cubic meters will increase from $4.00 per cubic meter to $4.20, and bulk water will go from $5.00 per cubic meter to $6 per cubic meter.
Garbage collection cost is also increasing, going from $33 to $44, and a, new charge of $3 for residential garbage bins will be added to the $14 water meter replacement charge, which is also paid by non-residential users, the resulting $17 for residents and $14 for non-residents now becoming a utility reserve, to be used for upkeep on utility equipment.
The Interim Operating Budget was passed in the final motion of the evening.