County approves route changes for pipeline project
A regular meeting of the Council of Starland County was held in the Administration Office, Morrin, Alberta, on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, commencing at 9:00 a.m.
Present: Reeve: Barrie Hoover; Deputy Reeve: Allen Avramenko; Councillors: Murray Marshall, Bob Sargent and Steven Wannstrom, Staff: CAO R. Rawlusyk, Special Projects Manager M. Kreke, Recording Secretary S. Bremer
At 9:00 a.m., Jeff Faupel, from Endeavor Chartered Accountants, attended the meeting to review Starland County’s 2015 Audited Financial Statements with Council. He also presented the Independent Auditor’s Report to mem- bers of Council. He noted, that the consolidated financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of Starland County as at December 31, 2015, the results of its operations, change in its net financial assets (debt) and its cash flows for the year in accordance with Canadian public sector accounting standards. Mr. Faupel reviewed the various consolidated statements of operations, deferred revenues, debt limits and equity in Tangible Capital Assets with Council, who are also the Audit Committee. In conclusion, Mr. Faupel advised Council that he had no recommendations to submit with his audit findings and that Star- land County is in a good and stable financial position.
Moved that Starland County’s Audit Committee accept the 2015 Starland County Audited Financial Statement as reviewed, and authorize the release of the information found therein. CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
At 10:10 a.m., Public Works Supervisor Pratt attended the meeting and reviewed his Public Works Report with Council. Highlights of his report included the following: - Crews have been busy with seasonal labour items such as taking down snow fence, hydro-vaccing culvert ends, finishing up brushing trees in the road allowances, pumping water on a couple of back roads and removing snow equipment. - The Michichi Hall demolition is completed and the hole has been filled in. It now needs leveling and seeded to grass. - Al has been getting culvert quotes for 2016, as well as fencing material quotes.
CAO Rawlusyk noted that our Auditor requires us to have an updated opinion of probable cost on the reclama- tion of each of the County’s gravel pits, including Starland, Marshall & Handhills Courtney Pits. For 2015, Stantec updated these costs resulting in a slightly lower reclamation liability as was recorded in 2013. He advised that we will be updating these costs annually for audit purposes.
At 11:15 a.m., Manager Riep attended the meeting and reviewed his Municipal Services Report with Council. Highlights of his report included the following: - Crews have been busy with regular operations including waterflushing operations, trailer repairs, re--decking trailer beds, daily water system monitoring and testing, bacteriological sampling and recreation equipment repairs and annual maintenance. - New West Geomatics did some training and programming for the Trimble hand held GPS unit. The updated program allows for not only identifying cemetery plots, but also locating water lines and other infrastructure including valves or hydrants. - The Morrin fire truck arrived and the department members are very pleased with the final product. The pumper control panel is located and enclosed within the extended cab of the truck and the unit can transport 6 fire fighters at a time with 4 seats equipped with ready-to-use BA harness. - The relocation of the used Rumsey fire truck to the Craigmyle Fire Department poses some issues with the existing building. They cannot store the newer truck together with their rescue van as there is not enough room. The FPMP determined that their fire hall was considered as a long range priority, however, with the increase in overall vehicle size and department apparatus, the existing facilities are no longer compatible. Glen noted that we do have an opportunity to possibly lease one of the Olmstead buildings that are for sale, to use an interim fire hall. - Glen met with Jaclyn Roulston, the DWOS person for our area, to visit the Rumssy water station. They discussed the plans to enhance the water quality and operating capabilities and one item she suggested was to use an electronic scale to better evaluate our chlorine dosage and demand requirements. MPE Engineering will be providing a revised equipment break down and pricing for the remote reader and monitoring apparatus. - An Alberta Emergency Alert System Training session is scheduled for May 26, 2016 commencing at 9:00 a.m. in the Council Chambers.
Moved that Starland County authorize Manager Riep and each of the Fire Chiefs interested within the County to attend the Fire Chief’s Conference in Calgary, from May 29 to June 15, 2016; and that registration and expenses be paid. CARRIED UNANlMOUSLY.
Manager Riep discussed correspondence received from Evolve Surface Strategies Inc. on behalf of Bearspaw Petroleum Ltd. As required by the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) they are notifying the County that Bearspaw Petroleum Ltd. is in the process of acquirirg surface rights for a proposed pipeline project on the E 1/4 18-29-19-W4M and W 1/4 17-29-19-W4M. They previously acquired a PLA prior to 2011 with Starland County approval. However, they did not build the PLA in time and after re-applying for a new crown application, consultation came back with 7 bands that require consultation prior to continuation of the crown application. This is very costly and time consuming, therefore, Bearspaw is requesting route changes to avoid a small corner of crown lards due to the fact that it would have a relatively low impact on the County; it would remove a prohibitive cost barrier for Bearspaw; and the current Crown tenant is open to the proposal.
Moved that Starland County grant approval to Bearspaw Petroleum Ltd. to proceed with their pipeline project as outlined on the E 1/2 18-2919-W4M and W 1/2 17-2919-W4M as per the conditions outlined on the approval agreement. MOTION CARRIED.
Chief Administrative Officer Ross Rawlusyk reviewed his CAO Report with Council. Highlights of his report included the following: - The audit process went very well, with no issues of any substance to work through. Our unrestricted surplus increased by $68,546.00 and our restricted surplus increased by the $35,000.00 that we are required to put towards fire halls. We have $3,373,292.00 in deferred revenue which is waiting for the new public works shop and Munson Fire Hall. - Prairie Land School Division is still pursuing funding assistance for outdoor fitness equipment to be installed in communities where they have schools. The 2016 Grassroutes Community Sport Innovation Challenge grant program may possibly provide the funds necessary to see this project be a reality. - Under the new Wetlands Policy, if a project could disturb water bodies or wetlands, a Water Act approval is required and this would require a technical review and public notification. Lacombe County ‘intends to submit a resolution at our next zone meeting to try and streamline this process and deal with these approval conditions. - The Province announced the introduction of the Electoral Boundaries Commission Amendment Act. This Act would make it possible for changes to provincial electoral boundaries to be considered before the next anticipated general election. In announcing the bill, the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General noted that “Albertan’s Charter right to vote includes a guarantee of effective representation, which is fundamental to democracy.” If these changes are strictly based on population, rural Alberta will lose many ridings and ultimately their voice in Alberta. - AESO released its 2015 Market Statistics report, noting the annual average pool price for wholesale electricity fell 33% and the average natural gas price fell 40%. - We have now completed all of the MSI Grant claim forms, as well as the Federal Gas Tax Fund claims for 2015. - A joint meeting between the Councils of Starland, Delia, Morrin and Munson has been established for April 28 at the Morrin Community Hall. The Hon. Kevin Sorenson has confirmed his attendance as well. The primary focus will be on fire agreement amendments for capital, shared infrastructure programs and municipal cooperation.
At 2:10 pm., representatives from Canadian Natural Resources Limited attended the meeting to further discuss their letter to municipalities which was sent out February 25, 2016. In that letter, they requested consideration of a 30% reduction in property taxes by a reduction in the nonresidential mill rates. They also suggested that we reassess population and activity forecasts that underpin municipal development plans to better reflect reduced activity levels. They noted that given reduced activity levels in the past few years and into the future, it is likely that demands on municipal infrastructure and services will also be reduced. The third item noted was to review capital and operations spending to find cost reductions and ensure that spending is built-to-need and right-sized.
CAO Rawlusyk explained that Starland County is one of the smaller municipalities in the Province and we maintain a staff of only approximately 33 employees. He also noted that the County is very fiscally responsible, as shown in our recent financial audit. There is not much flexibility in the realm of the County’s revenue and expenditures and a large portion of the 2016 budget has already been expended. He did note however, that the total assessment for non-residential properties has decreased by nearly 7%, which will result in a reduction of taxes to CNRL in the total amount of approximately $68,000.00.
The group thanked Starland County Council for their time and consideration, departing from the meeting at 2:45 p.m.
A copy of the Starland Regional Water Authority audited financial statement for the year ending December 31, 2015 was provided to Council for their review.
continued next week