From the regular meeting of Monday, April 18, 2016
CAO Ray Romanetz presented the 2016 Provincial Budget Analysis done by Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.
Notable changes are that the provincewide Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) fund shows an overall $50 million reduction compared to a $50 million increase which was pledged, the budget being $846 million for 2016 and is budgeted to remain at that amount for three years. MSI funding for Drumheller has been reduced by $119,150 over last year. Also, the Alberta Community Partnerships grant was cut 50 per cent from $40 million to $20 million, the report calling this "concerning as it impairs regional collaboration," and makes the application process more competitive.
Director of Corporate Services Barb Miller reported on the 2016/17 Provincial Budget's impact on Drumheller. Carbon Tax increases will see a carbon tax of $20/tonne implement as of January 1, 2017 and then increse to $30/tonne on January 1, 2018. This equates to roughly $1.01/GJ in 2017 and $1.517/GJ in 2018. Natural gas is estimated to increase costs to the town of $35,000 in 2017 and $52,000 in 2018, based on the town's annual consumption as the carbon tax is applied at the point where fuel is burnt. Electricity pricing is insulated from the negative impact of the carbon tax until the end of 2020 when the town's final contract expires.
Tax on gasoline is set to increase by 4.5 cents to 17.5 cents a litre due to the carbon tax levy, and this is estimated to cost an addition $2,500. Tax on diesel fuel is increasing by 5.4 cents to 18.4 cents a litre and estimated to add an additional $3,780 annually.
Education Tax will increase provincially by 6.7 percent. The 2016 residential/farmland Alberta School Foundation Fund requisition rate will decrease from $2.50 to $2.48 per $1,000 equalized assessment and the non-residential rate will decrease from $3.67 to $3.64 per $1,000 equalized assessment. Drumheller's total education tax requisition amount for 2016 decreased by $18,820 to $2,702,221 from $2,721,041.
Council moved the second and third readings of Bylaw 6.6 which made changes to the Solid Waste Management bylaw adding a number of contravention penalties which could be issued by Drumheller Landfill staff to individuals who violate bylaws at the landfill. The amendments give Drumheller Landfill employees and Bylaw Services the tools to manage situations of bad behavior or disobedience of laws at the landfill.
Director of Community Services Paul Salvatore presented council with a Request for Decision in appointing Heather Farquharson of East Coulee to the Heritage, Arts and Culture Steering Committee, which was unanimously passed by council. Farquharson has worked with the East Coulee School Museum and has a background in the performing arts.
Councillor Tara McMillan reported on the Valley Bus Society which recently held its Annual General Meeting. User numbers last year averaged 1,108 people per month, averaging 244 trips to the hospital for visits and care, as well as 19 charter trips a month, which make up about half of the VBS' revenue, the other half being fixed bus runs. A new bus was purchased last year and repairs were made on a number of buses. A number of VBS users who attended the meeting expressed the desire for weekend services, but McMillan reported that unless user numbers increase there are not enough funds at the moment.