Thursday, February 5, 2015

Alberta Budget 2015 your Input

The Alberta government is now providing you the opportunity to provide your input on solving the $7 billion shortfall. Just go to the following address and click on take the survey.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Alberta fiscal crisis, how will it affect us?

It looks like Premier Prentice is preparing all of us for bad news. Just keep in mind that 30-40% of our revenue comes to us in the form of provincial grants.

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice says fiscal crisis means rollbacks on table for public sector ... and him

Monday, January 19, 2015

Municipality Of Crowsnest Pass Legal Matters

For Immediate Release - The Municipality was served as the defendant in a Legal Claim by the former Chief of the Blairmore Fire Department who is also a member of the Smoke Eaters Community Society. This Claim is currently in the hands of the Courts and the Municipality is finalizing the Statement of Defense.
The Municipality has also been served a Legal Claim by members of The Blairmore Smoke Eaters Community Society. This Claim had been turned over to Legal Counsel for preparation of the Statement of Defense.
Both claims were initiated from the events of 2012 and the Municipality has prepared this information press release so that the Community would be informed of these events having been initiated against the Municipality. As these claims are in a Legal process at this time the Municipality cannot elaborate further on details of the claims.  As the Municipality moves through the legal process, we will endeavor to keep the community advised within the constraints imposed upon it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Some people are just plain stupid!

The following is a municipal press release regarding the issue of somebody running a snowmobile on our cross country trail system last weekend.

Snowmobile Damage to the Allison Cross Country Ski Trails

On the weekend of January 10 & 11, one or more snowmobiles accessed the Allison Chinook cross country ski trails multiple times. A fair amount of trail damage resulted, spanning roughly 13KM (40%) of the network. Trail conditions were restored the evening of Monday, January 12th, however, weekend users likely experienced some poor conditions. The ski club is now discussing measures to prevent future occurrences. In addition, several signs stating "no snowmobiles, ATV's or dirt-bikes" have been placed at the entry/exist points as a temporary measure.

Albert Stella Arena

Albert Stella Memorial Arena January 14, 2015

January 14, 2015 - For Immediate Release – The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass has completed its investigation into the health and safety concerns related to the Albert Stella Memorial Arena (ASMA).  As a result, a remediation plan and budget has been prepared that will allow the facility to safely remain open for the next 2 years.
At the Council meeting of January 13, Council approved the proposed remediation plan and contract in the amount of $61,845 plus GST.  The remediation work has already commenced and portions of the work will continue into the spring.  However, the majority of work will be completed quickly and public use of the facility is expected to resume over the next 2 - 3 weeks.  Once this short term solution is implemented, the Municipality will need to actively plan for the future of the facility. 
 The Municipality thanks the public and user groups for their patience during this short-term closure.  For more information please contact Lyle Hannan, Director of Community Services at (403) 562-8833. 
Note: It's important to note that the above press release and the actions of council last night only deal with a short term solution (Two years) to the issues within this facility. The full facility evaluation report is posted at the address below, it is a real eye opener.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 year in review and looking ahead in the Crowsnest Pass

Looking back 2014 was quite a year, the first full year with this council a group of individuals that have come together and worked very well as a team. It's good to work with a group where everybody respects each other, and their different opinions.

We had many challenges, hate to use the term "legacy issues" because from 2011-2013 I sat in the vast majority of council meetings and heard that phrase thrown around again and again but we were left lots of them. Yes these "legacy issues" are a pain in the ass and they will continue for a while yet, lets remember lawyers don't get rich by moving fast.

I doubt very few municipalities have faced the challenge of having to rebuild their total administrative team right after an election. But we did, and now we have an administrative team that is working well together and moving us in the right direction. Even so we can not loose sight of the fact that they were not all in place until June, by the time they became familiar with all the issues in their individual areas the year was not far from over.

Budget for 2014 was a mess,  our CAO had to hire the rest of his team, run the municipality and try to build a budget with a brand new council, comprised of six members who have never worked through a municipal budget previously. So we basically took the 2013 budget renamed it the 2014 budget, and made sure there was no tax increase. Over the year we got some surprises little did we know that the 2013 budget did not include any dollars for gravel and salt for the winter season.

Between administration and ourselves we have rebuilt some of the relationships, the swimming pool is back being operated by the previous society and is doing well. We are working on resolving issues with the previous fire departments, we have a much better working relationship with CUPE and we just worked out a new agreement with the SPCA.

We are getting along with our neighbors we are no longer asking them to give up part of their properties and pay us to take it of their hands. Next week we are meeting with some of our neighbors to look at opportunities for us to work together.

The survey on the branding/logo was completed (for a cost of $200) nobody on council had the desire to spend another $330,000 dealing with this issue. But it was a big issue during the election and the public deserved the opportunity to voice their opinion and they did to the tune of almost 800 completed surveys.

Looking ahead 2015 is going to be filled with many issues that we have to deal with.

We have the Albert Stella Arena, we should be getting test results soon, which should provide us the information to move forward on this issue.

The budget process continues, Jan 8 2-5pm is our next meeting, if you have been following my previous posts you can see there is a lot that we have to deal with. I think everybody understands that our facilities, infrastructure and equipment fleets are all in dire shape. Unfortunately without acquiring a large debt load, and enormous tax increases we can not fix all of the problems in one year. No matter how much justification can be provided for everything on administration's list.
We are ultimately going to have to make tough choices and yes not everybody will be happy.

The great big unknown for us is the situation in Edmonton, our Premier as told us a number of times now that we are going to have a revenue shortfall of $6-7 billion. Not unlike us (just on a much larger scale) the province is going to have to make tough decisions and most people will not be happy. I will be shocked if the provincial dollars coming to municipalities is unaffected.

Our collective agreement with CUPE expires at midnight today and bargaining for a new agreement will begin soon.

We are hoping to have our budget process concluded by the end of January, then we will have to wait for the provincial budget and the ASFF before we can set our mill rate for the coming year. Even at that point council still has the option to change the budget if they so desire.

Both development and real estate sales were up substantially in 2014 hopefully that trend will continue.

For the first time in quite a few years there are indications that our assessment base is growing.

We have an economic development board that is bringing forth some good ideas on promoting our community.

I'm hopeful during the next year, that we reach out again for the public's input on important issues. For a relativity low dollar amount using our utility bills and municipal web site we have a great opportunity to improve the democratic process and allow the people that pay the bills to provide their input more than just every four years.

I'm sure there are things that I have missed, I am sure somebody will jog my memory.

Here's hoping that 2015 is a good year for all of us. Happy New Year



Monday, December 29, 2014

Paying for all the good stuff.

Further to my post of December 19, administration's recommendations on what we need to spend on our Capital Budget.

$14,143,500 is a very large number and a lot of is subject to grants, but here is the breakdown of the revenue sources.

Grant AMWWP $3,327,500
Grant MSI Capital $4,376,000
Grant FGTF/BMTG $1,300,000
Grant ACP $114,000
Longterm Financing-Equipment $1,310,000
Longterm Financing-Frank WWTP $1,672,500
Operating Budget $1,347,500
Reserves-Equip + Electrical $696,000

Total $14,143,500