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.

http://crowsnestpasshome.blogspot.ca/2014/12/crowsnest-pass-capital-budget-2015.html


$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

Pass PowderKeg Ski Hill-Free skiing New Years Eve

Pass Powderkeg Holiday Schedule:
Monday, December 29 & Tuesday, Dec. 30 – The LODGE will be open from 5:00 to 9:00 pm
Come up and get your season passes printed, leave your equipment for servicing, book ski and snowboard lessons, book your snowshoe rentals, tour the upstairs lounge.
Come up and watch the Hockey game on MONDAY night in the lounge!
Wednesday, December 31 – THE HILL WILL BE OPEN!!
Come out and ski for FREE!!
5:00 to 9:00 pm
Thursday, January 1 to Saturday, January 3 – Holiday Hours – 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
Sunday, January 4 – Noon to 5:00 pm
Thank you to everyone for your patience re our season starting a little later than any of us had planned. Mother Nature just didn’t co-operate with us, but hopefully we are on a roll now!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Crowsnest Pass -Capital Budget 2015-

Lots of scary numbers on this page, the following is Administration's recommendations. How will this be paid for? obviously some from grants, some from debt and some from the tax roll.
The items below have a cost attached to them and administration's priority level regarding the need.

In summary we are looking at the following:
Maintain safety $330,000
Preserving existing assets $250,500
Fleet Replacement $2,166,000
Infrastructure Replacement $6,062,000
Frank Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrading $5,000,000
Provide for growth $100,000
Enhancements $235,000

Total $14,143,500

Maintain Safety

LED Streetlight Retrofitting 30,000 High Priority
Gravel Rural Roads 300,000 High Priority

Preserve Existing Assets

Wastewater Collection System Video Inspection 39,500 High Priority
Fleet additions 211,000
Lane Reconditioner 9,000 High Priority
Hoe Tamper Attachment 20,000 High Priority
6" Trash Pump 42,000 High Priority
Grader Packer 20,000 High Priority
Bucket Truck 120,000 High Priority

Upgrade/Replace Existing Assets

Fleet replacement

Wheel Loader 250,000 Committed
Wheel Loader 250,000 High Priority
Light Pickups (3) 110,000 High Priority
Fire Command Unit 84,000 High Priority
Facility Vans (2) 130,000 High Priority
Sanding Trucks (2) 360,000 High Priority
Steamer Truck Deck 5,000 High Priority
Street Sweeper 250,000 High Priority
HydroVac Truck 450,000 High Priority
Low Boy Unit 95,000 High Priority
Fire Support Unit 50,000 High Priority
Water Rescue Boat 10,000 High Priority
John Deere Attachments 40,000 High Priority
Loader Swivel Blade 30,000 Medium Priority
Welder 22,000 High Priority
Snowmobile 30,000 High Priority
Zamboni - High Priority $170,000 requires 2015 commitment for 2016 delivery

Deep Infrastructure Replacement High Priority

Sanitary Sewer Main Replacement 24 Ave 391,000 High Priority
Sanitary Sewer Main Replacement C#402 to C#412 2,420,000 High Priority
Sanitary Sewer Main Replacement BL#136 to BL#140 813,000 High Priority
Sanitary Sewer Main Replacement BL#107 to BL#108 451,000 High Priority
Water and Sanitary Sewer Main Replacement 128 St 302,000 High Priority
Coleman Booster Pump Station Facility Upgrade 55,000 High Priority
Blairmore Main Pump Station Facility Upgrade 55,000 High Priority
Sentinel Water Tower Maintenance and Access Road 125,000 High Priority
Road Rehabilitation 1,000,000 High Priority
Electrical Distribution System Upgrading 200,000 High Priority
IT Upgrades 200,000 In Progress
Office Upgrades 50,000 Medium Priority


Facility Upgrades For Discussion
Sentinel Bridge Replacement For Discussion
Frank Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrading 5,000,000 High Priority Dependent on AMWWP funding approval

Provide for Growth
Passburg Pit Property Acquisition 100,000 High Priority

Enhancements-Fleet additions
Watering Truck 35,000 Medium Priority
Concrete Crushing 200,000 Low Priority


My next post will show how administration intends to pay for all of the above.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Press Release regarding ASMA

December 17, 2014 - For Immediate Release - The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass has received a facility review and evaluation of the Albert Stella Memorial Arena. The purpose of the review, which commenced in 2013, was to investigate the condition of the building, short and long term renovation costs, and the viability of renovation options. As a result of the evaluation, several flags were raised by the consultant with regard to the condition of the building that will require further evaluation and testing. As a precaution, and in the interest of ensuring the health and safety of our user groups, staff and the public, the Municipality must temporarily close the facility until the full scope of the issues are investigated further. The Municipality apologizes for the short notice, however this issue required immediate action to minimize safety risks. The Municipality will be working with the user groups to attempt to find alternate arrangements so that they may continue their programming. For more information please contact Lyle Hannan, Director of Community Services at (403) 562-8833.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Riversdale Resources reaches shipping agreement with Westshore Terminals

The following is information regarding Riversdale and Westshore Terminals reaching agreement to ship product through that port beginning in 2018.

"Westshore has entered into an agreement with Riversdale Resources Limited, a Canadian company with a planned metallurgical (steel making) coal mine to be developed in Blairmore, Alberta. Under the terms of the agreement, Riversdale will pay Westshore an annual  reservation fee to hold up to 2 million tonnes of capacity at Westshore. Production is slated to start in late 2018 and ramping up in 2019. The agreement with Riversdale also includes a 10 year throughput agreement for such volumes ending in 2028."

The full article is available at: 
http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1464605/westshore-terminals-announces-q4-2014-distribution

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Back to a one party state in Alberta?

Is this the end of the Wildrose, even though I believe that Jim Prentice is showing tremendous leadership, democracy never works as well without an effective opposition. If the Wildrose party is merged with the Conservatives we will return to the days of one party having 90% of the seats in the legislature.  

Wildrose caucus meeting over merger with Alberta Conservatives


http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/wildrose-caucus-meeting-over-merger-with-alberta-conservatives-1.2874525

Crowsnest Pass Brand/Logo

The results to the Brand/Logo survey are now available at:  http://www.crowsnestpass.com/public/download/documents/9083

I will voice my opinion at the council meeting tonight on this subject.
The public as made it very clear that they do not wish us to spend any more time, energy, effort and (especially) money on this issue.

The great thing that came out of this whole process in my mind is the opportunity that was provided to give the public the chance to provide their input. And input they did almost 800 people responded that's 15% of our population compared to say a Lethbridge could you see 20,000 people responding to a city survey?
I think between using our utility bills and the municipal web site, those are great tools that I hope will be used on a regular basis moving forward.

Also of great importance the cost of allowing the public to voice their opinion on this issue? $200.



Monday, December 15, 2014

Should the taxpayers be allowed to vote on tax increases?

The Mayors Council representing all the metro area's of the lower mainland of B.C. Is looking to raise tax revenue to finance a $7.5 billion transit plan. They are proposing to raise the BC Provincial Sales Tax by half a per cent to fund this project. Nothing unusual government proposing to raise taxes and spend a pile of money.
What is out of the norm is they proposing to give the taxpayers the opportunity to vote on this tax increase. That means they will have to go out and sell the justification to the public for this tax increase. The proposal is to hold a referendum in the spring.


This raises many questions:
How far do you go with referendums? Should the taxpayers be allowed to vote on tax increases? Should referendum be for "one off" tax increases or for all tax increases? Should it be only for tax increases above a certain amount (more than the cost of living)? etc etc.

Our neighbors to the west are having quite a debate on this issue.



PST hike of 0.5% proposed for Metro Vancouver transit referendum





Alberta takes action to control spending

The province is showing some leadership as we head for difficult financial times in this province. 

Key point in this release is payroll/staffing, at all levels of government, the single largest cost is payroll.   



Alberta takes action to control spending

December 15, 2014 Media inquiries
Cost containment measures taken immediately, and new committee lays foundation for Budget 2015.
Resource revenues are expected to be lower while the population is expected to be higher, and the combination poses some unique challenges for Alberta.
“This is not budgeting as usual. Governing responsibly requires us to be disciplined with spending, prudent with revenues, and cautious with forecasts. We are taking action, and I have asked a team to devote their energy and attention to ensuring we make the right decisions for Albertans.”
Premier Jim Prentice
A new seven-member Budget 2015 Committee will begin work on the 2015 budget. Members are:
  • Jim Prentice, Premier (chair);
  • Robin Campbell, President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance (vice-chair);
  • Stephen Mandel, Minister of Health;
  • Diana McQueen, Minister of Municipal Affairs;
  • Frank Oberle, Minister of Energy;
  • Manmeet Bhullar, Minister of Infrastructure; and
  • Ric McIver, Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour
The committee’s work begins immediately, and will continue until the budget is introduced in the spring. The committee will be looking at economic projections, capital and operating budgets, policy commitments, and revenue forecasts. It will make recommendations to Treasury Board.
Ministers are not receiving additional compensation for this work.
The Government of Alberta is also taking action to control spending for the remainder of this fiscal year through cost containment measures.
“While our provincial financial picture is strong and we are in the best position to deal with this low price environment, it is important that we take action and control spending. Sustained low prices are having a significant impact on provincial revenues and we must exercise fiscal discipline and treat taxpayer dollars prudently.”
President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance, Robin Campbell
A number of actions are being taken to control spending in three main areas:

Payroll/staffing costs

Effective immediately, a hiring restraint initiative has been implemented. The intent is to limit any growth in overall staffing costs. Hiring may still occur for positions that are critical to government operations or provide frontline services to Albertans. These will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis with Deputy Ministers required to review and approve recruitment to all positions.
Public sector compensation is the largest driver of government expense, accounting for $22.5 billion in direct and indirect spending last fiscal year.  

Procurement of goods and services

Spending on goods and services is to be limited, wherever possible, to those required to meet critical operational requirements or legal commitments.

Grants/discretionary spending

Any discretionary grants, travel, training and other related costs are to be limited across government unless they are required to meet critical operational requirements or legal commitments. 
Agencies, Boards and Commissions along with the SUCH sector (Schools, Universities, Colleges and Health Authorities) will also be asked to implement similar cost containment measures.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Taxes; what are our neighbors doing?

Town of Pincher Creek approved their budget for 2015 and 2016.

Their tax rates are going up 1.2% in 2015 and 2% in 2016 plus their franchise fees are increasing by 5% both gas and power.

On the Franchise Fee their gas goes from 20 to 25% and their power goes from 8 to 13%. This will bring them in an additional $76,000 a year.

There is no consideration being given to increasing our franchise fees for 2015.

Presently our gas rate is at 25% and our power is at 16%.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmas in the Mountains Schedule Dec 5-7th

Event Schedule

Friday, December 5th
• Santa Claus Parade – 5:30pm on Main Street,
 Blairmore at Gazebo Park
• Tree Lighting – 6:00pm in Gazebo Park
• Festival of lights begins – Vote for your favourite
 light displays around the community between December 5th to 14th.
• Bonfire – 5:30pm to 9:00pm in Gazebo Park
• Evening Shopping at select businesses around the community

Saturday, December 6th
• Photos with Santa – 12:00pm to 4:00pm at Spry (13101 20th Ave, Blairmore)
• Artisan’s Christmas Market – 10:30am to 5:00pm at the Elks Hall
• Santa Fun Run – 10:00am at the Elks Hall – Lace up and wear a Christmas costume!
• Tree Auction – 11:00am to 5:00pm at the Elks Hall – Bid on decorated trees.
• Turkey Bowling – 11:00am to 4:00pm in Gazebo Park – Bowl a turkey for prizes!
• Scouts Egg Drop Challenge – 11:00am to 4:00pm in Gazebo Park – a fun activity
 for kids of all ages.
• Hay Rides – 11:00am to 4:00pm in Gazebo Park
• Maple Cones – available in Gazebo Park during the day
• Kids’ Christmas Bazaar – 12:00pm to 6:00pm at the Compass Centre– Kids shop
 for some Christmas gi s at piggy-bank prices while parents enjoy baking and co ee.
• Pottery Sale – 9:00am to 3:00pm at the Pass Po ery Club(Sports Complex in
 Coleman) – pick up hand-cra ed ceramics.

Sunday, December 7th
The Coleman Community Society
presents their annual Christmas in the Park
from 5:00pm to 7:00pm in Flumerfelt Park!
• Visit with Santa
• Wagon rides
• Free hot chocolate and $2 hot dogs
• Games and activities
• Candy bags
Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Budget Update Staffing and Overtime

Now the not so good news:

I have spoke about this before, being a public service our number one cost is staff.

Our cost of wages, salaries and benefits have increased by 43% over the last seven years during those same seven years our cost of living has risen 15%.

Last budget meeting administration presented a package that includes the following new positions:

Manager of Planning                         $137,000
Community Peace Officer                 $29,195
Community Services Casual              $11,600
Community Services Student            $11,059
Planning Clerk                                   $53,601
Operations Casual (2)                        $108,546

The additions above will increase our payroll from $5.7 million to $6.1 million, unless I am totally misreading the opinions of the taxpayers I do not see an appetite to increase taxes by 6% to finance additional municipal staffing.

I agree with Councilor Kovach's comments in today's Pass Herald we totally rebuilt our administrative team which as not even been in place for nine months. We need the benefit of more time to determine the strengths and the weaknesses of this organization.

I also took the similar position to Councilor Kovach that if we need new positions we need to find the savings within the organization to pay for them.

Not for one moment do I believe that council should be micro managing the organization, we do not have the expertise to determine what positions are required and which are not. But the responsibility council does have is to approve or not the amount of dollars that we expect the taxpayers to fork out.

Snow storm and volunteers

I was going to write a post today about some really good stuff and provide an update on the budget. I'm not going to do that because I want to separate the good from the bad.

The good news; we had a lot of snow on Friday (which obviously wasn't the good news) the good news was the way we reacted to it. The municipal staff did an outstanding job from the plowing of the roads, to handling the shut down of the highway, to the regular updates on the municipal web site everybody should be commended. Public Works, Administration, Protective services, big kudo's to everybody involved.

The other good news we are starting to see volunteers step forward for our various committee's, we are now seeing new people that have never sat on a committee previously taking an interest and a willingness to become involved. There are still some vacancies, if your interested contact the municipal office.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Promoting your community-Crowsnest Pass and Sparwood

Was just sent a link to the new Sparwood Chamber of commerce video show casing their community,

 http://sparwoodchamber.bc.ca/wordpress/watch-our-video/


This made me think back to the video that Rocky Mountain properties made about the Crowsnest Pass a few years ago also very well done.  http://rockymountainproperties.ca/RMP_CrowsnestVideo.htm

They are both less than five minutes long well worth the time, please check them out.


Thanks to the comment I received, I checked out UROC at the following address  http://www.uroc.ca/  well worth the time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Municipal spending in the Crowsnest Pass

Today's Pass Herald regarding municipal spending:

http://passherald.ca/archives/141112/index2.htm


Here is the article from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Spending threatens fiscal sustainability of AB municipalities


http://www.cfib-fcei.ca/english/article/6726-spending-threatens-fiscal-sustainability-of-ab-municipalities.html

Crowsnest Pass ranks middle of the pack at 76 out of 181 municipalities (Page 21 of the report)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Tourism Investment Forum-Crownest Pass Opportunities

Attached is a very interesting read regarding investment opportunities in the Crowsnest Pass:
Featured on Page 26-27 is the Eckardt's Tecumseh Mountain Resort.
On page 30-31 the Sentinel RV resort development.
Lastly on page 35-35 the Crowsnest Pass Ski Resort Expansion.


Tourism Investment Forum


Building Alberta

Alberta's Tourism Framework recognizes the important role that access to capital plays in supporting the efforts of Alberta's communities to diversify their local economies through tourism.The Tourism Investment Forum (PDF - 6.8 MB) provides communities with a unique venue to showcase land-based, for profit tourism development opportunities to potential tourism investors, developers and lenders. 

The Forum will feature projects from across the province, and include opportunities such as four-season and RV resorts, lodge and cabin developments and many others. The Forum's business friendly format is sure to spark new ideas and connections to help grow Alberta's tourism industry.

Communities will gain valuable exposure among investors who are actively investing in Alberta's tourism industry. All opportunities meeting the submission guidelines will be compiled into an investment opportunities booklet (PDF - 10.4 MB) and sent out to investors prior to the event in order to generate investor interest. In addition, these projects will also be featured on a section of the Department's website dedicated to tourism investment opportunities. There is no cost to participate in the Tourism Investment Forum.


http://tpr.alberta.ca/tourism/events-and-conferences/tourism-investment-forum/pdf/Regional-Investment-Opportunities.pdf

Getting Close to home-Lundbreck Derailment

No injuries after 18 cars leave the tracks near Lundbreck



http://www.pinchercreekecho.com/2014/11/09/breaking-train-derailment-near-lundbreck



I think we all understand the importance of the railway to the economy of Canada in general.
But there are reasons why these things happen, I would expect that CP will do everything in it's power to ensure that this does not happen again.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Council Meeting Nov 4, Crowsnest Pass


Some important issues dealt with at council last night. First reading were done on both of the following bylaws. They will now come back to the next council meeting for second and third reading. At that meeting anybody from the public is more than welcome to provide input, there will be an opportunity at the start of the meeting for the public to participate.

Bylaw 897, 2014 – Animal Control Bylaw-the previous version of this bylaw in my opinion was very unpopular, it was very onerous, and unenforceable.  
 
Bylaw 900, 2014 - Council Procedural Bylaw-The previous bylaw I felt put too much decision making authority in the hands of the Mayor/CAO, this bylaw now returns the authority to council. Where in true democratic form decisions will be made by the majority of elected officials.

Fire department-Last week council met with the Fire chief, deputy fire chief and all of the captains and lieutenants from the Crowsnest Fire/Rescue Department at the Blairmore Fire Hall. It was a very blunt and open discussion with all sides agreeing that it was good that we had the meeting to open real lines of communications. The Fire dept members made it clear that training, structure, and working together were important issues. Council made it clear that our goal is to improve the fire service we provide to our residents where every possible. To increase the volunteer and expertise base where possible. The way the previous changes were handled was terrible but we has a community have to move forward. This leads to the following issue:  

Alberta Community Partnership Grant Application

Previously the Alberta government provided a regional collaboration grant which was used to fund the restructuring of the Fire Department back in 2012.
The government changed the regional collaboration grant to the Alberta Partnership Grant, due to our special status afforded us by the "Crowsnest Regulation" the municipality can apply as a regional entity we decided last night to proceed with a grant application. This grant will allow us the opportunity to further train our volunteers, and enhance the services we provide, without taking additional dollars from our tax levy.

Budget process, we have had a number of budget meeting with the next one scheduled for this Thursday 2pm in the council chambers, all meetings are open to the public. If you want to follow the process so far go to the following address pages 39 to 42.   http://www.crowsnestpass.com/public/download/documents/8825   

Survey on the logo/brand I have had a number of calls asking me how much it is costing us to do the survey? $175 the cost of the paper and the time of an employee to put the surveys in the utility bills and to post the information on our web site/facebook. Equivalent to the cost of one banner.





Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Great Crowsnest Pass Recreation opportunity

Photo: PASS POWDERKEG SKI SWAP


You can also buy season passes on line at the Rec Desk link available on the right hand side plus here: http://cnp.recdesk.com/recdeskportal/Home/tabid/5158/Default.aspx


Crowsnest Pass Logo/brand (Love it or hate it you decide)

Want to provide your input on the municipal logo go to the following address you can comment on the municipal website http://www.crowsnestpass.com/media-center/news-blog/post/municipal-brand-public-input-survey  or there will be a survey in your utility bill that can be filled out and dropped of at the locations listed.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Taxes 2015, looking at the numbers

Last Thursday (Oct 16) council and administration began the 2015 budget process, all meeting are open to the public and are being held in the council chambers. (Next meeting Oct 23, @ 2pm topic of discussion will be municipal reserves)

Last week administration reviewed the budget process with council who expressed their desire for a zero (0%) tax increase.  

Is that realistic? I think so. Right now the process as just begun, we do not know what all the issues are and what exactly administration will be presenting to us during the budget process. We certainly have the option of coming back to the public with something other than zero. That is a decision that will be made by the majority of council at the end of budget process. (January 31,2015) 

The following is some interesting Financial Information regarding the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass and will certainly weight on my mind as we move forward through this process.  

Revenue

Net municipal property taxes collected 2007   $5,465,057


Net municipal property taxes for 2014 $6,729,350

Difference of $1,264,293 or 23.1%


Franchise Fee’s 

2007 we did not collect, 2014 we are collecting $700,000

During 2014 we are collecting additional revenue of  $2 million over what the municipality collected in 2007.    

Cost of living (CPI)

Jan 1st 2007 CPI was 109.4
Sept 1st 2014 CPI is 125.8

The CPI has increased by 15% from Jan 1,2007 to Sept 1,2014 our tax revenue alone increased by 23% during that same time frame easily keeping pace with inflation. 

The greatest cost any public sector organization incurs is wages/salaries/benefits, keep in mind the following numbers include all of our staff both unionized and administrative. This is where finding and eliminating inefficiencies is so critical. Neither we or any other organization, public or private sector can keep growing indefinitely.     

Wages/Salaries/Benefits

2007 Wages/Salaries/Benefits  $3,948,805

2014 Wages/Salaries/Benefits  $5,655,650


Difference on wages/salaries/benefits $1,706,845 or 43.2% 

Last night our Chief Finance Officer presented the following report that provides a lot of good information.  http://www.crowsnestpass.com/public/download/documents/8719 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Good news in the Crowsnest Pass

Several things, I know it's not an economic boom but good news never the less:

1. Development permits we are already 25% ahead of the whole of 2013 with three months to go.

2. There has been as many real estate sales this year to the end of September as there was in the whole of 2013.

3. Our recreation department as created a new web site http://cnp.recdesk.com/recdeskportal/  that will provide you information on all our recreation program, facilities, parks, scheduling calendar, you can even buy ski passes on it. Please check it out, keep in mind it is new so there is bound to be glitches contact the rec department if you have any concerns.

4. We will be starting the 2015 budget process this Thursday 2-5pm in council chambers.


   

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Riversdale Resources-- Crowsnest Pass

Coal mining revival in Crowsnest Pass eyed by Australian company

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/coal-mining-revival-in-crowsnest-pass-eyed-by-australian-company-1.2781083


Riversdale will be hosting an open house today (Sept 30) from 2-6pm and tomorrow (Oct 1) from 2-7pm at the Crowsnest Pass Sports Complex.

They will be providing updates on the following topics:

Options for the rail and train load out.
Ongoing Environmental studies
Feasibility Study.

NOTE: Three options presented for the load-out, which I was told will be a 50' high enclosed building, trains will be up to 152 cars with three engines which is 8300' in length. The load-out will hold enough coal to load one train (16,000 plus tonnes) At two million tonnes there will be a train on average every third day.
Two options; show by my count nine holes of the golf courses including the club house area being taken out. To allow for the train to loop around and be loaded, on one option it shows the load-out about 1-1.5km up the hill from the highway. The second of these options shows the load-out adjacent to the highway a little east of where the golf course parking lot is. With both of these options the train will go under highway 3 roughly where the entrance to the old highway is, west of Tim Hortons.

The third option is running the coal by conveyor under the highway similar to the above, west of Tim Hortons again, with the belt going through the old pole plant yard to a load-out just west of that. There will be an additional rail siding there which will mean that the trains will require at least 8300' of track on each side of the load-out.





Monday, September 29, 2014

Tax Sale--River Run properties

If you have any interest at all in the River Run properties please read the following first:
this package is available in much more detail on the municipal web site at the following address:

For the person that called last week about purchasing a lot and parking their RV on it please read #6.

http://www.crowsnestpass.com/public/download/documents/8530



INFORMATION FOR PUBLIC
TAX RECOVERY -RIVER RUN SUBDIVISION
PLAN 0714930, BLOCK 1, LOTS 17-97, 99-113, 117-119, 121-156
PLAN 0714930, BLOCK 2, LOTS 1-36, 38-68
PLAN 0714930, BLOCK 3, LOTS 2-22, 24-69
EXCEPTING THEREOUT ALL MINES AND MINERALS

and

ALL THAT PORTION OF THE STATUTORY ROAD ALLOWANCE ADJOINING THE EAST
BOUNDARY OF THE SOUTH EAST QUARTER OF SECTION 3 TOWNSHIP 8 RANGE 4
WEST OF THE 5TH MERIDIAN LYING SOUTH OF THE PRODUCTION ACROSS SAID ROAD ALLOWANCE OF THE SOUTH LIMIT OF ROAD PLAN 8410909 AND NORTH OF THE
PRODUCTION ACROSS SAID ROAD ALLOWANCE OF FLOODED AREAS ‘B’ AND ‘C” ON
PLAN IRR513

EXCEPTING THEREOUT: ALL THAT PORTION WHICH LIES WITHIN SUBDIVISION PLAN
0714930

EXCEPTING THEREOUT ALL MINES AND MINERALS
(the “River Run Lands”)

In response to inquiries about the tax recovery process, the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass (the “Municipality”) advises all members of the public of the following:

1. The River Run Lands are within a legal subdivision, but are physically located within a large unimproved area. The entire area and each individual lot are unserviced. There are no roads and no ability to connect to utilities including water, sewer, electric, gas.

2. In May 2007, the cost estimates to complete the servicing infrastructure was $9.55
million.

3. Under the terms of the existing development agreement, the developer is responsible for installing or paying for the installation of all services. The developer is in breach of these terms of the development agreement. The developer is bankrupt and its corporate status is inactive.

4. The Municipality does not have a legal obligation or plan to develop or service the River
Run Lands, and does not intend to do so as a municipal undertaking.

5. Because of the developer’s breaches of the development agreement, the Municipality has issued stop orders preventing further development. These stop orders are registered on title to each individual lot in the River Run Lands. The Municipality will not discharge the stop order until a suitable arrangement is made to fund and complete the necessary servicing by someone other than the Municipality.

6. As a result of the zoning of the River Run Lands, the Municipality cannot issue a development permit for the use of the lands. Practically, this means that a potential purchaser of the River Run Lands cannot erect any permanent or temporary structures or buildings on the lands, cannot park or store any vehicle, equipment or materials on the lands, or otherwise use the lands until the breaches in the development agreement has been remedied, and the servicing infrastructure has been installed.

7. The Municipality is not the owner of the River Run Lands. The Municipality is not a developer respecting the River Run Lands. The Municipality is offering the River Run Lands for sale under the authority the Municipal Government Act. Pursuant to the Municipal Government Act, the Municipality has a legal obligation to offer the River Run Lands for sale by public auction to recover the property tax arrears. The Municipality’s sole purpose for conducting the public auction of the River Run Lands is to recover property tax arrears.

8. There are other relevant and material facts that a potential purchaser of the River Run
Lands should review and be aware of. These facts may be obtained from documents on
the following databases:

Alberta Land Titles Office, Certificate of Title
Available online at: www.spin.gov.ab.ca

Alberta Environment’s Environmental and Sustainable Resource Development’s Site
Repository (ESAR), Environmental Site Assessments:
Available online at: http://esrd.alberta.ca

The Energy Resources Conservation Board’s Abandoned Well Viewer
Available online at: www.ercb.ca

The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass’ website, Additional Documents:
Available online at: http://www.crowsnestpass.com

IMPORTANT: The parcels of land are being offered for sale on an “as is, where is” basis
and the Municipality makes no representation and gives no warranty whatsoever as to
the adequacy of services, soil conditions, absence of presence of environmental
contamination, or the developability of the subject parcels of land for any intended used
by the purchaser. No bid will be accepted where the bidder attempts to attach conditions
precedent to the sale of any parcel. No terms and conditions of sale will be considered
other than those specified by the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass. Bidders will be required to sign a registration form indicating “Important Procedure Information”.


ALL INTERESTED PERSONS ARE "STRONGLY" ENCOURAGED TO ADVICE FROM A
LAWYER ABOUT POTENTIALLY PURCHASING THESE LANDS

Animal Control Bylaw - Crowsnest Pass

A revised Animal control bylaw will be coming back to council shortly we are looking for the public's input. The "draft" bylaw is available at the following address:


http://www.crowsnestpass.com/public/download/documents/8558 


You can provide your input by contacting myself or any other member of council, or show up at upcoming council meeting either Oct 7 or Oct 21 and make a presentation during the public hearing on the bylaw. Has soon as I confirm the exact date I will post it here.


For comparison purposes the previous bylaw is available at:

http://www.crowsnestpass.com/public/download/documents/4966


Looking forward to comments and constructive criticism, the bylaw does not take effect until all three readings have been passed, so council could amend at any point if there is something we have missed.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Libraries and Logo's in the Crowsnest Pass

My observations on two issues I have heard a lot about over the last week:

Libraries - The Crowsnest Pass is one of 33 member of CARLS  the Chinook Arch Regional Library system. At our last council meeting we were presented next years budget for CARLS which we as a member, as do all the other municipalities get to vote on. There is a formula that so many members representing so much of the population have to vote for the budget for it to pass. I think anybody that uses our library understands that they do a great job, belonging to CARLS as worked well for us. We as a council did not vote for the budget and the "only" reason I heard around the table was due to the request for a 3% increase in the municipal contribution. It was stated by a number of councilors that 3% in the economic times we are in and the relative low cost of living rate, is just too much.
What will this change at our present library? nothing. Over the last week I have heard silliness from we will be losing access to the internet, the library will be closing, on and on. None of that is true. 

Logo's/Branding - The Crowsnest Pass logo and branding, certainly an issue that was brought up by many people prior to and during the election. Lot's of people are still not happy with it, some are. That's ok and everybody can have any opinion they want, it's no secret this issue came up at our last G+P meeting and will be coming back to our October meeting. It's no different than any other issue that's been placed on our agenda we will look at it debate it and maybe or maybe not do something about it. 
Did I hear any desire around the table to start this whole exercise "over" again? not one iota, did I hear anybody suggest that we should even spend a tiny fraction of what was spent previously? not one iota. This council is listening to the public if the taxpayers bring an issue up with us, yes we will research it, debate it, hear the arguments from anybody that's interested for or against and go from there. 
This last few days I have been reading people's comments on various media sites on this issue, good for you, speak up voice your opinions. That's democracy at work everybody should have a voice. No surprise here that's one of the great things about living in the Crowsnest Pass, people do speak up and are engaged politically. 
I guess the only surprise for me is a lot of those voices that are now being very critical of us for having the audacity to talk about the logo/branding for 15 minutes at a G+P meeting, were voices that were so silent when the process took place and $330,000 of taxpayers money was spent on something that didn't deserve to have anywhere near that kind of money spent on it.   

But that's ok, maybe those strong voices regret not speaking up before and want to ensure that the same mistakes are not repeated.        

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

G+P meeting Sept 9, 2014

Number of issues dealt with Tuesday night.


  1. Draft Bylaw 897 Animal Control-Council and administration provided their input, will be coming to council for first reading on Sept 16 if passed at that point will come back for subsequent reading on Oct 7,  I believe the bylaw is a great improvement from the previous bylaw, the bylaw will be open for public comment and input. 
  2. Dr Todd Shipman, Alberta Geological Survey made a presentation on the Turtle Mountain Early Warning Systems. Historically; council of the day in 2008 placed a restricted development area at the foot of the Turtle Mountain, based on the scientific information and legal opinion at the time. With the benefit of six more years of monitoring since then Dr Shipman informed us that the mountain is moving between 1mm and 2.3mm a year with anything less than 16mm being considered low risk. The government will be releasing a further report on the whole mountain by the spring. 
  3. Corporal McKenna, Crowsnest Pass RCMP presented a statistical report on crime rates in the Crowsnest Pass, he expressed to council that by RCMP standards we are a very safe, low crime community. 
  4. Municipal branding/logo, council received a report last night showing the costs for the whole branding/logo process. Remember not that long ago when I tossed around the numbers of $3-400,000, how some people labelled those numbers as ridiculous. For your information.
Brand Development $48,983
Website Development $20,370
Entrance Signs $193,520.21
Banners $23,732.83
Stationery, Business Cards $6,333.08
Flags $4,366.49
Parade Float $5,925.64
Merchandise $15,259.09
Decals for Trucks $1,577.84
Decals on glass st the municipal office $820.20

Total $320,888.38

Still left to complete landscaping at the entrance signs $? part of 2015 budget.

Council will be looking for public input in the coming months, on where we go from here on the brand/logo, certainly no desire from council to spend any where close to the amount of money spent previously.  

5. Other issues discussed Municipal Health and Safety Policy, Municipal Hiring Policy both of which council made a number of comments on. They will be revised and brought back to council shortly. In addition we discussed Thunder In the Valley/Rum Runner Days which should be coming up soon to allow interested groups and individuals to get involved. The flooding issues and poor condition of the Union Cemetery in Bellevue. Plus council raised a number of issues with the snow removal policy. 

Next Council Meeting September 16.

Note: I have been asked about a couple of legal issues which have not been finalized yet. There will be information coming as soon as they are complete.  
     

Devon Gas Plant

Devon stack coming down, September 9.



https://onedrive.live.com/?cid=54DE290CB907B1FF&id=54DE290CB907B1FF%212029&authkey=%21AJdychopP2yunYc&v=3

Monday, September 8, 2014

Crowsnest Nest Pass-Revival of the coal industry continues

Very early stages on this project, but certainly good news for the Crowsnest Pass.

Altitude Resources Signs Joint Venture Arrangement with Kuro to Develop Elan Coal Project



http://www.azomining.com/news.aspx?newsID=10407

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Lots of rain and garbage, now some celebration.

I know its been a while:

Couple of things, first of all a big pat on the back for Municipal Administration, all of our CUPE members, Fire/Rescue departments, other various volunteer groups, contractors, outside agencies and any one else that helped out during the events of the last few days. Everybody was well prepared, very proactive instead of reactive, things could have been a lot worse. (And lastly kudo's to my fellow members of council)

Lets not forget the bins are parked at the Coleman Sportsplex waiting to be filled, I was told by the landfill that it was going very well until the rain started. I have heard some complaints but please keep in mind this is the first time we will take your input and make the program better.

This weekend we also have the Hillcrest mine disaster 100th memorial and Bellcrest days.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Crowsnest Pass Council Update

Council Update

May 13, 2014- A lot of positive things are happening that will bode well for the community in the years ahead. We would like to update the taxpayers on our progress in the areas of concern we previously identified. 
Our CAO is rebuilding our Administrative team, a new Director of Finance & Corporate Services is now on board and we will have a new Director of Planning, Engineering & Operations in place May 20, 2014.
During the last few months, the municipal budget and mill rate were set for 2014 thanks to the hard work of Administration and the commitment of Council, the monies collected by the municipality did not increase.
Taxes
Due to the way Municipalities are governed by the Provincial Assessment process, the Municipality realized 4.1% reduction in total assessment and a shifting of assessment from the older properties to the newer properties. Some properties may have had an assessment increase but a number of properties would have a reduction as well.
For example, if you had an assessment of $300,000 last year, you would have had to pay $1828.00 in taxes. Taking that same property in 2014, assuming the value dropped the average of 4.1%, your property would be assessed at $287,700, which at today mill rate would equates to $1828.00 in taxes.
Unfortunately, if your decrease in assessment was less than 4.1% or you had an assessment increase from last year your taxes may have gone up, on the other hand if your decrease in assessment was more than 4% then you would see a tax reduction. We would advise residents that if they have a question about their property assessment to contact the municipal office at 403-562-8833 and set up an appointment with our Assessor Glen Snelgrove.
Land Issues
We are working with the creditors of Crowsnest Mountain Resort to resolve the outstanding issues with the Wolfstone Development.
The Crowsnest Centre site has been cleaned up according to the agreement reached between the contractor and the previous administration. Administration is working on a solution to dispose of or recycle the piles of broken concrete and bricks on the site.
Legal Issues
Mayor, Council and/or Administration have had meetings with both Chinook Pipelines and the Smoke Eaters. All sides have indicated a willingness to resolve their outstanding issues without tremendous amounts of dollars being wasted on the legal process.
Labour
Council and Administration have made rebuilding the relationship with our employees a priority. There are still issues, but thanks to a lot of hard work between our administration, CUPE leaders and membership, we feel we are making progress.
Flood repairs are well underway with the initial contractor work being done on Lyons Creek, Byron Creek and Drum Creek.
Development appears to be on the rebound and so far this year we have approved permits for 30% more than we did in the same timeframe last year. Soon we will be seeking public input to help us improve the Municipal Development Plan and the Land Use Bylaw.
Other Issues
We are reviewing the terms of reference of all our committees. We will be looking strategically at ways to better market our community. Once our entire Administrative team is in place and the outstanding workload is caught up, we will begin the strategic planning and the budget process for next year with a goal of how we can maximize the services we provide to our taxpayers with as little impact as possible on your pocket books.
To conclude, we have a Council that is working well together, and we are building a strong, experienced administrative team. Development is on the upswing, taxes are being kept in line and contentious issues are being dealt with.
Thank you for your support and patience.
Mayor and Council

Monday, May 12, 2014

Clean up in the Crowsnest Pass-Service Plus

Service Plus Program Dates Announced


The Service Plus Program is a new initiative designed to allow residents to bring large items for disposal to locations throughout the community.  This program is a cost-effective solution that will allow residents to conduct “Spring Clean Ups” without incurring the costs and travel needed to take items to the landfill.  There will be a bin for metal and a bin for regular waste at the sites listed below.  Please bring electronics and paint to the Recycling Roundup at the Crowsnest Sports Complex in Coleman on Saturday, June 21, 2014 from 9:00 – 2:00 pm.   For more information please contact the Operations Department at (403) 563-2220.

Blairmore
Blairmore Shop
12525 21 Avenue
June 12-14th, 2014
9am – 4 pm
Hillcrest
Hillcrest Shop
22201 9 Avenue
June 16-18th, 2014
9 am - 4 pm
Coleman
Sports Complex
8702 22 Avenue
June 19-21st, 2014
9am – 4 pm

Several things to keep in mind we used to have a spring clean up that was highly in efficient and very expensive (Between $150,000 and $400,000 a year). This is an attempt on council's part to bring back a service on a trail basis to see if it can be done in a cost effective and efficient manner.  If this is successful it will be hopefully expanded next year, now for this year it is just in the three locations because they are one's where the bins can be supervised while they are open. There is nothing that says next year we can't look at other locations if we can find a way to secure them.



Friday, May 9, 2014

Russell Farmer Report-Viability Review

Just had a conversation with one of our residents regarding one of the recommendations in the Russell Farmer report specifically #86 which states the following:

86. Council requests a viability review by the Minister of Municipal Affairs

The full report is available at the following address:  http://www.crowsnestpass.com/public/download/documents/4855

First of all I do not think there is any one person in the Crowsnest Pass that agreed with everything in the report, there was a lot of good stuff in there but there was one particular recommendation I disagreed with.
That being the one I am referring to above I stated very clearly why in the following post right after the report was released. http://crowsnestpasshome.blogspot.ca/2013/09/crowsnest-pass-municipal-inspection_19.html

There was no legal obligation on either the last council or this one to accept "all" the recommendations of the report. I did then and do now believe that this community is "viable". There are many communities in this province that have there internal squabbles and struggle with finances. Does that mean we throw in the towel and ask our neighbors to come rescue us? I don't think so.


Note if you still have concerns or questions about your assessment please contact the office at 562-8833 and make an appointment to see our Assessor Glen Snelgrove.    

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Why did my taxes go up?

Every year at this time we talk about taxes, the way we calculate our taxes in Alberta can be very confusing it takes a lot of time and effort to fully understand the process.

The taxpayers here over all are in a position this year of having no additional tax dollars taken out of their pockets than last year. Unfortunately that does not mean that nobody received a tax increase this year I will explain.

Tax rates in Alberta are set by the combination of two factors "Marketplace Assessment and Mill rate", each year our Assessor must determine the Assessment value of our whole community. He does that by factoring in the values of properties sold in the market place for the last twelve months. Due to the markets some years single family residential homes may be in demand, other years condos, country residential etc etc. In a nut shell values go up and down, and sometimes in some areas more or less than others.

This year our total municipal assessment base dropped 4% now to bring in the same amount of taxation dollars as last year the mill rate had to increase 4%.

So assuming that your property dropped in value the average 4% with an increased mill rate of 4% you would pay the same taxes as last year.

Some examples (Numbers may not totally equal due to rounding)

2013-$200,000 home x mill rate of 9.130963 that would equal $1826
2014-$192,000 home (4% drop) x mill rate of 9.4954 that would equal $1823
Virtually the same as 2013

Why did my taxes go up? I will use my own assessment as an example.

2013-$307,000 home x mill rate of 9.130963 that would equal $2803
2014-$303,000 home x mill rate of 9.4954 that would equal $2877 my taxes went up $74 why because my property only dropped in value by 1%.

Then I will give you an example of a person who's value went down more than the 4%.

2013-$155,000 home x mill rate of 9.130693 that would equal  $1415
2014-$146,000 home x mill rate of 9.4954 that would equal $1386 their taxes dropped by $29 because their value dropped more than the 4%


I hope I have explained this process, I understand it is complicated but in the simplest terms I can explain. The mill rate increased 4% if your property value decreased the average 4% your taxes stayed the same, if your value decreased less than 4% your taxes went up. If you value decreased by more than 4% your taxes went down.

Note: If you are really interested in the whole process of market place assessment you should read the following http://mgareview.alberta.ca/wp-content/upLoads/media/Market-Value-Assessment-and-Administration-Discussion-Paper.pdf

It is a little technical but it does fully explain the process, if you still have questions or concerns contact the Assessor Glen Snelgrove at 562-8833.
   

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Recognition, Entertainment, and putting the Pass on the map all in one week.

What a great week in the Crowsnest Pass:

Wednesday night the municipality in conjunction with the FCSS board hosted the Volunteer recognition night, there was a packed house the meal was catered by Chris's restaurant and entertainment was provided by a group of four young guys named "Hoja" who put on an excellent show that appealed to all age groups. Three people were recognized for their volunteer efforts by receiving the Order of the Crowsnest Pass presented by Mayor Painter. Long time volunteers Margaret Stolk and Margaret Ann Woodward shared the award and Kiana Miskulin received the Order of the Crowsnest Pass Outstanding Youth award.

Friday night the Polish Hall in Coleman hosted the CBC show "Of all places" more great entertainment, the comedian Johnny Harris and his two colleagues had the crowd laughing from the beginning to the end. What was really impressive was that they spent the week here not just visiting the Pass but actually learning about the Pass and some of it's people. Which was very evident by the way Mr Harris built so much of what he learnt into his material.
I will find out when the show will be televised great opportunity to put the Crowsnest Pass on the map.

Saturday we have the Turning Pointe Dance Studio putting on their annual Festival of the Stars two shows the first at 2pm and the second at 6pm. Come up to the MDM and catch some great entertainment provided by the very talented youth of our community.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Crowsnest Pass Budget down to the wire.

First reading of the mill rate bylaw was passed on April 1, second and third reading are scheduled for April 15.

Highlights:

Salaries and wages increased by 3% (collective agreement with CUPE effective Jan 1st) additional cost of $164,000.

Municipal Insurance costs increased by $31,000..

MSI operational funding dropped by $60,000

Property tax base dropped by 2.1%

General Municipal Taxation for 2014 will be $6,921,689 versus $6,681,111 for 2013

We will be spending $633,700 on capital, which will include the following:

Two pickups for operations $68,000
Two wheel loaders $375,000
Wastewater Inspection camera $11,700
Renovations Coleman Seniors Centre $19,000
Swimming Pool Conceptual Design $15,000
Albert Stella Memorial Arena Renovations Scope $35,000
Dressing Room Addition Roof Sports Complex $50,000
Server Upgrades and desk computer replacements $60,000

Reserves will be increased this year by $290,500 versus $240,666 in 2013

Franchise Fees will not increase this year.

Utilities will increase by 4.6%

Legal Fees in 2013 were budgeted at $15,000 actual cost was $156,431 budget for 2014 is $140,000.

Ski Hill manager eliminated savings of $61,000 a year also revenue for 2014 was decreased by $58,000, 2013 budget was $252,710 with actual revenue of $187,418.

Peace Officer reduced to one position effective May 1st, administration informed council that most communities only have one position for a population of 5500.

Ag Services grants decreased by $30,000.

Upgrades to municipal utilities:

$30,000 to the Electrical system
$24,000 on the water system
$58,000 on the wastewater system
$12,000 for garbage collection bins and Eco recycling

Economic Development will bring in revenue of $183,000 from various conditional grants.

Personnel requirements:

2013 budget allowed for 54 full time positions, 3319 hours of overtime, and 45,214 hours of casual employment.

2014 budget allows for 54.75 full time positions, 2858 hours of overtime, and 37,650 hours of casual employment.

Note: The town rounder position was counted in the casual hours last year, it is now a full time position, overtime hours have decreased by 461 hours and casual hours are reduced by 5499 hours after allowing for the town rounder hours from last year.

Debt:

The municipality will assume debt of $1,672,500 to construct a new Clarifier at the Frank wastewater plant subject to approval of $3,327,500 in grant funding from the province.  

The municipality will assume debt of $343,000 to upgrade the Sentinel Water Treatment plant, administration as proposed that this debt, will be financed by the owners of the properties in the Sentinel area under a Local Improvement program (Property owners will get to vote on this).

The payment on the $1,672,500 over 10 years would be $190,200 per year.

2014 we will pay $480,000 on debt payments, and roughly the same amount next year which will almost clear up all existing debt.   



Keep in mind the mill rate can be amended by a majority vote of council on either second or third reading. 

Well deserved Kudo's to the CAO, the administration staff we do have, and the hourly employee's who put a lot of effort into getting this budget in place. 
Personally I would have liked to have dug a lot deeper into this budget and the various areas that drive the numbers but unfortunately not having a finance officer in place since November and no Public Works Director for almost the same time frame made things very difficult.  
I do believe that the 2015 budget process will be much more efficient than what we just went through.  

KRA Rodeo in the Crowsnest Pass

image

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Notes from 2014 Budget Process Crowsnest Pass

Budget Update for 2014 from Saturday March 22

2014 Salaries and Wages 3% Increase
Employee Benefits 5% Increase
Insurance Costs 12% Increase

Assessment Base total 2.1% drop
Market values actually dropped 3.6%
But there was 1.5% of new growth

Taxes and Fees
Franchise Fees Zero Increase
Property Tax 3% Increase
Utilities 5% Increase

Positions
CPO reduced to one position as of May 1
New position of Manager of Corporate Affairs
(Primary duties HR)

Equipment
Equipment Purchases  (3) Light duty Trucks $96,000
Wheel Loader (1) $175,000
Sidewalk Maintenance Machine (1) $141,000

Infrastructure Upgrades
Frank Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade-New Clarifier
Cost $5,000,000 Grants $3,327,500 Debt $1,672,500
Sentinel Water Treatment Plant Operational Upgrade
Cost $495,000  Grants $152,000  Debt $343,000
SCADA Upgrades Cost $797,500  Grants $797,500
Bellevue Hillcrest Lagoons-Swamp Drain Restoration
Cost $575,000  Grants $575,000
Wastewater Collection Systems Video Inspection
Cost $39,500 Grants $39,500


Next Budget Meeting March 28 1 pm in Council Chambers



Thursday, March 13, 2014

Garbage Pickup in back alleys Crowsnest Pass

Municipal Press Release regarding garbage pickups in back alleys:
The Municipality appreciates the patience of those residents who have experienced delays in garbage pick-up due to the large snow fall accumulation this winter, which unfortunately, has rendered some alleys impassable for the garbage trucks.  In order to alleviate the garbage situation, the Municipality has made arrangements with CNP Waste Disposal to pick up all accumulated garbage from those areas on the front street rather than impassable alleyways.  
We are requesting that those residents who need to temporarily have garbage pickup moved to the front street, please place your garbage on the front street on your regularly scheduled garbage day.
Thank you for your cooperation.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

You would be amazed!

The province of Alberta just released salary disclosure on all provincial employee's making more than $100,000 a year.

Available at http://alberta.ca/SalaryDisclosure.cfm 639 pages with 10 names per page.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Crowsnest Pass Road Conditions

ROAD CONDITIONS UPDATE

The Municipality would like to thank residents for their patience regarding the state of the roads in our community. As everyone is no doubt aware, the high temperatures over the weekend have caused thick slush and water run off throughout the community. The Operations Department is making every effort to clean the streets as expediently as possible. We had 3 Operations staff out on Friday evening, 5 working on Saturday, 8 staff working on Sunday and our full complement out today. Further, this morning we are experiencing extreme icy conditions and residents are asked to exercise extreme caution. If you have any immediate concerns please contact Operations at (403) 563-2220.

It looks like a lot of communities got hit with this on the weekend, Kudo's to everybody that worked hard to look after our streets. The number above goes straight to public works so if you are still experiencing problems give them a call. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Alberta Budget Impact on the Crowsnest Pass

Just received the following information on the impact of the 2014 Alberta Budget on our municipal grants.

MSI Capital

2013  $1,735,945
2014    $1,771,588

MSI Operational 

2013  $194,163
2014   $131,924

Basic Municipal Transportation Grant 

2013  $333,900
2014  $333,900

Total  

2013  $2,264,008
2014  $2,237,412

Drop of $26,596



2013/2014 Budget and Consolidation of the Coleman/Blairmore Shops

I have received a number of calls regarding the following two issues.

1) The 2014 budget:

I'm sure that almost everybody is aware of the changes that we have gone through at the administrative level in the last four months.
The CAO we hired in mid December Sheldon Steinke has been working very hard to stay on top of the day to day operation of the municipality, deal with all the legacy issues we were left. In addition prepare the budget for 2014.
Keeping in mind that we will not have a Director of Finance and Public Works in place until at the earliest late April.
We had a budget preparation meeting on Feb 27, a Capital Budget meeting March 6, and will be dealing with the Operational Budget on March 22 in Council Chambers from 9:30am to 4:30pm.

If you would like to look at the 2013 budget in detail to get a sense of what the municipality brings in and spends on your behave you can by going to the following address http://www.crowsnestpass.com/public/download/documents/5563  start on Page 14 to 77 of the package.

2) Consolidation of the Coleman/Blairmore shops

I have been asked about the savings realized by the Municipality in consolidating the Coleman/Blairmore shops. I requested of our previous Public Works Director for the information that was used to justify consolidating the two shops, for a breakdown of the efficiency and dollar savings realized. The following is what was presented to council on Pages 81-82.

http://www.crowsnestpass.com/public/download/documents/5563 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

School Enrollment in the Crowsnest Pass

After probably twenty years of declining school enrollment in the Crowsnest Pass I was very encouraged to read the following article in today's Nanton News from Rob Vogt:

Preliminary projections see declining school enrollment.  

http://www.nantonnews.com/2014/03/03/preliminary-projections-see-declining-school-enrolment 


It shows a decline of 4% in enrollment in the school district as a whole, with the exception of a few area's. One of those area's is the Crowsnest Pass where enrollment in our three schools is the following: 

"Crowsnest Pass
• Horace Allen School has 182.5 students, the same as the actual 182.5;
• Isabelle Sellon School has 128 students, up seven from the actual 121;
• Crowsnest Consolidated High School has 293 students, down nine from the actual 302;" 

Over all we only dropped by two students on a total of 605. 

Hopefully next year we will be seeing an increase. Good News.