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Lower property tax bills, higher basic water usage for Elk Point ratepayers

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ELK POINT - For the second year in a row, a drop in assessment will off set mill rate increases for Elk Point ratepayers, with this year’s assessment drop of $8.9 million a substantial jump over last year’s figure of slightly over $7 million, leaving this year’s total assessment at $159,358.240.
CAO Ken Gwozdz provided Mayor Lorne Young and council with a list of 10 properties ranging from residential to commercial and industrial, with assessments from $112,000 to $2.1 million, all showing taxdecreases between $75 and $3,000 from the previous year with the figures contained in 2020 mill rate bylaw.
Trimming expenses and decreasing the amounts added to reserves has assisted in providing lower tax bills, despite the 2020 budget adjusted to include $25,651 set aside for policing costs, a $20,000 COVID-19 contingency fund and payment of the shortfall on 2019 Alberta School Foundation requisition, which had been paid on 2018 figures when the requisition was not received until after 2019 mill rates had been set. Even with the increases, general municipal funding requirements dropped by $72,639 over last year’s figures, with a $5,102,159 operating budget for 2020.
The mill rate for Residential, Farmland, Condominiums and Four-plexes totals 10.546 mills, up from 10.519 mills last year. Non-Residential with Improvements goes to 23.695 mills from 23.023 mills and Non-Residential Vacant to 25.989 mills from 25.317 millsThe mill rate for Non-Residential with improvements and Linear with DIP (Designated Industrial Property) goes to 23.806 mills from 23.135 mills. Only two tax rates dropped, GIL Provincial tax rates from 8.548 to 8.5094 mills and Machinery and Equipment from 19.225 mills last year to 19.186 mills this year.
Town of Elk Point Mayor Lorne Young thanked administration “for bringing forth a budget and a mill rate with no increases for ratepayers.”
Water increase
A request from a resident for an increase in the basic water amount from 14 cubic meters due to increased usage by families confined to their homes during the COVID-19 epidemic was brought back to council, along with water usage figures for the month of March. Council agreed to increase the basic amount to 20 cubic metersfor April, May and June and to re-evaluate the situation at that time.
“It’s another way we can help the community cope,” the mayor said.
Town office upgrades
Approval of two upgrades to the town office were on the April 27 agenda, one of them the installation of protective tempered glass at the front counter to separate customers from staff once the office is again open to serve the public. Part of the glass has now been installed, and the rest is on back order. The second motion coming out of the April 16 Public Works meeting was approval to tender the replacement of flooring inthe town office. Both of those upgrades were included in the operating budget.
Spring cleaning

The town is doing some spring cleaning, both indoors and out, with a variety of office furnishings and equipment going up for tender on the town’s website, along with some items at the Public Works shop and items from one property the town now owns due to tax arrears.

As for outdoors, the whole community is welcome to get on board with community cleanup month, May 1 to 31. For those disposing of appliances containing Freon, they can do it without charge at the Elk Point transfer stationand others operated by the town and County of St. Paul all month long.

The annual back alley pickup of large garbage items by the Public Works department is scheduled for May 11, 12 and 13, and while regulations surrounding the COVID-19 epidemic must be followed, residents are encouraged to tidy their yards and alleyways, to pick up garbage and recyclables when they go out for a walk, and even offer assistance to the elderly or disabled to clean up their yards as well.

Council briefs

Three additional motions came out of the April Public Works meeting for council’s approval, one of them to enter into a short-term franchise agreement with Alta Gas. Approval was given to direct administration to write to the County of St. Paul requesting an employee for Saturdays from June 1 to Oct. 31 at the Elk Point Transfer Station, at their cost.

Council also passed a motion advising MPE Engineering that the Inter Municipal Stormwater Management Master Plan has been approved as presented and council identified the drainage along Railway Avenue and three culverts as the first priority for further engineering and construction. Administration has been asked to notify the town’s partner in this project, the County of St Paul in this regard.

Gwozdz provided council with the first quarter update on the Strategic Plan and Tactical Plan, and indicated that a number of items had been checked off the list.

Council reviewed and approved the Emergency Management Committee’s infections control policy.