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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Notes from Dec. 8, 2014 Pincher Creek Town Council meeting


  • McMan presentation accepted as information 
  • Library Board presentation accepted as information 
  • Windy Slopes to receive up to $50,000 as 'Last Money In" 
  • Pincher Creek murals to receive a protective coating 
  • Handi Bus Society granted a letter of support 
  • EDC report accepted as information 
  • 2015 and 2016 operating budgets approved 
  • 2015 to 2018 capital Budgets approved
  • $1.3 million potential loan set aside for curling rink project
Toni Lucas

Council for the Town of Pincher Creek met on the evening of Monday, December 8, 2014. In attendance were Mayor Don Anderberg and councillors Adrian Hartman, Mark Barber, Wayne Elliott, Lorne Jackson, and Doug Thornton. CAO Laurie Wilgosh, CFO Wendy Catonio, Legislative Services Manager Gus Kollee, and Director of Community Services Diane Burt Stuckey were also in attendance. Councillor Tammy Rubbelke was not in attendance.

Mayor Don Anderberg opened the meeting with Christmas greetings to everyone as this was the last regular meeting of Town Council until after the holidays.

McMan presentation accepted as information

Anne Gover, Jerrold Visser and Susan Kuftinoff attended the November 24 regular Council meeting to present to council an update on the McMan Agency in Pincher Creek and the Pincher Creek Food Bank, now branded 'The Junction'. The Council voted to accept their presentation as information.

Related story:  Notes from November 24, 2014 Pincher Creek Town Council meeting

Library Board presentation accepted as information

Sandra Baker and Janice Day of the Pincher Creek and District Municipal Library attended the November 24 regular meeting of council meeting to update council on highlights, proposed changes, and challenges the library faces. On the December 8, 2014 meeting council unanimously voted to accept their report and presentation as information.

Related story:  Notes from November 24, 2014 Pincher Creek Town Council meeting

Windy Slopes to receive up to $50,000 as 'Last Money In"

Council for the Town of Pincher Creek approved the request made by the Windy Slopes Health Foundation (WSHF) at the October 6 Committee of the Whole meeting for up to a maximum of $50,000 in funding towards the Pincher Creek Health Centre Emergency Room Renovation Project. A request for an equal amount was made by WSHF to the MD of Pincher Creek No. 9 council. Windy Slopes has been gathering money toward this project for a long time.  Included in the plans are improved lines of sight for nurses, a negative pressure room, and increased privacy for patients. "Such a contribution (is) to be forwarded as 'last dollars in', considering a maximum project cost of $560,000," said Councillor Doug Thornton, who said that a representative of Alberta Health Services (AHS) spoke to Mayor Don Anderberg and had agreed to cover any cost overuns. Thornton said that AHS has agreed to cover the design costs that will be between $30,000 - $60,000.  Later in the meeting during budget discussions he said "We cannot sit around and wait for Alberta Health Services for our needs to come up on their important priority list."

"There is another party that is probably coming to the plate to possibly put money into this situation," said Mayor Anderberg. "If that takes place, our contribution may not be required."  It was indicated that once funding is provided by AHS for the project, the approved funds are to be transferred to a reserve account.

Related:   Pincher Creek Town Council and COTW notes to November 10, 2014

Pincher Creek murals to receive a protective coating

Council  approved a one-time amount of $9,500 in the 2015 Community Services Department budget for the maintenance of the murals and agreed that $2,500 be included in future budgets for ongoing further maintenance. This was discussed at the November 24 council meeting and the decision held back until after administration found out more information and it could be discussed at Committee of the Whole. A clear coating will be applied to the murals to protect them from UV rays and to make it easier to clean the murals and make reparations after acts of vandalism. According to council the one time fee is to get all the murals coated, and the yearly amount is for a rotational upkeep schedule.

Related: Notes from November 24, 2014 Pincher Creek Town Council meeting

Pincher Creek Handi Bus Society granted a letter of support 

Pincher Creek Handi Bus Society indicated in correspondence that they would like to apply to the Community Initiatives Operating grant by December 15, 2014. Mayor Don Anderberg indicated that during the Regional Council meeting in November consisting of members from The MD of Pincher Creek, Town of Pincher Creek, Village of Cowley, and MD of Crowsnest Pass it was agreed that the Town of Pincher Creek should be the lead group on a regional transportation initiative.

 Councillor Doug Thornton said that he was told that the current handibus "is on its last legs." He said that town operation staff is looking into transportation grants. "I think this is a great way to work together with our neighbouring communities," said Thornton.

Mayor Anderberg indicated that with a regional transportation system in place facilities such as ski hills, arenas, curling rinks, and sporting fields could be shared better.

Council agreed to approve the letter of support.

Economic Development Committee report accepted as information

Councillor Adrian Hartman gave a report on behalf of the Economic Development Committee regarding tourism and signs. He additionally presented information from the EDC regarding the MCC Arena and usage during the off season. The committee found that some of the existing signs are difficult to see, and that there could be signs that currently do not exist. The committee would like to see a large tourism sign near the entrances to town that would have a map marking various amenities available in Pincher Creek. They considered uniform directional signs that are green with white lettering to match highway directional signage. One committee suggestion is that all of these town directional signs could hang off of pincer shaped stands. Hartman indicated that the committee does not believe that the current tourism centre location at Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village is optimal, as it is already in the center of town. During discussion of the information Hartman said that in regards to signs and the tourism centre, "It has to draw them in, and it has to be effective, and that costs money."

Hartman said that the EDC discussed researching expanded uses of the MCC Arena during off season periods. Their recommendation is that the Town issue an expression of interest or even request for proposals for alternative arena functions during the off-season. "If we utilize the arena in the off-season, there are six months that it sits semi vacant, or mostly vacant. If we can increase the utilization, we can increase revenue dollars for our facility," explained Hartman. He also mentioned that there are development restrictions in the downtown area, and recommend that council review restrictions for the combined uses of commercial and residential development.

There was no accompanying written report, and Mayor Anderberg said that he would like to see one. Council voted to accept the presentation from Hartman as information.

2015 and 2016 Operating Budgets approved

The Town's 2015 and 2016 operating budgets were discussed and voted on as separate issues, each receiving a unanimous vote from council.

The 2015 operating budget came to $10,105,759 in revenues and $11,174,148 in total expenditures, with an add back of $1,069,002 in amortization expenditure for a final budgeted cash surplus of $613.

The 2016 operating budget projects  $10,097,575 in revenues and $11,166,479 in total expenditures with an add back of $1,069,002 in amortization expenditure for a final budgeted cash surplus of $98.

Some of the items that were discussed included:
  • 1.2% municipal tax increase for 2015
  • 2.0% municipal tax increase for 2016
  • 5% increase in both Fortis and AltaGas franchise fees
  • 2.5% increase in wage costs for 2015 as per the new collective agreement
  • 3.0% increase in wage costs for 2016 as per the new collective agreement
Mayor Anderberg said "It was the intention of the council on the Windy Slopes request... to make it a one time requisition, as a line item, but we can't do that because we have to hold this money in reserve now. Essentially, it works out the same."

Councillor Thornton said "Without the requisition that will be required for the emergency room renovation, we are basically holding the line on last year's budget expenses for the operation of our community." He said that council "Certainly is of the belief that our community really needs and wants us to proceed with making sure that our hospital, and the emergency room is at the highest level of functionality that is available for community like ours." Thornton said that the current emergency room deals with 12,000 visits per year. He stated that on average the tax increase will work out to approximately $50 - $60 per resident on average. "It's for this emergency room. We cannot sit around and wait for Alberta Health Services for our needs to come up on their important priority list."

Anderberg said "There may or may not be an increase or a decrease in the education portion of our tax bill. We have absolutely no control over that, the Province sends us the number that they want to collect from the Town of Pincher Creek, and we square it up as part of the mill rate, as a line item to all our citizens. That number comes from the Province."

CFO Wendy Catonio handed out an additional report on budgets at the meeting.

Council voted unanimously to accept the 2015 and 2016 operating budgets, and administration indicated that there will be a public budget information session early in 2015.

2015 to 2018 capital budgets approved

Council discussed:

  • 2015 capital budget in the amount of $6,835,965 for projects and transfers
  • 2016 capital budget in the amount of $3,364,000 for projects and transfers
  • 2017 capital budget in the amount of $2,175,000 for projects and transfers
  • 2018 capital budget in the amount of $3,274,000 for projects and transfers


Mayor Anderberg commented that he found planning for a 4 year budget an improvement over two separate 2 year budgets, as was previously the method. "This makes planning so much easier for the administration," he said. "Everyone knows where they are at, instead of trying to piecemeal one year at a time."

Councillor Doug Thornton said the 2015 budget "is a pretty large number," He explained that not all of the 2015 funds will come from the Town of Pincher Creek. "Much of it is going to be funded by grants, none of it is contemplated as borrowed of any kind. I think that is important for people to realize. It comes from prudent fiscal management over the years, and allows us to accomplish projects that many other communities can only dream of."

Mayor Anderberg said he disagreed with Thornton, particularly about borrowing money. "When we do borrow money, we will be borrowing it from our own reserves, and there are projects in here that we will be paying ourselves back for." The Mayor thanked administration, particularly CFO Wendy Catonio, for developing the budget.

Council voted unanimously to accept the 2015 to 2018 budgets, and administration indicated that there will be a public budget information session early in 2015.

$1.3 million potential loan set aside for curling rink project

In separate interviews last week councillors Doug Thornton and Adrian Hartman clarified one of the items in the 2015 budget, the proposition of funding a new curling rink. Thornton explained, "The budget said that there is 1.3 million dollars set aside for a curling rink, but that will happen after the curling rink raises their money, and it is raised from everywhere else. The good news is that because we are taking that money out of reserves, it is money we already have in our bank account. We are using it to build a curling rink, but we are going to replenish that money over 20 years. We are going to borrow it from ourselves, from our cash reserves, we are going to spend it on our share of the curling rink once the Curling Club comes up with the rest of the money, and we are going to pay ourselves back over 20 years. If we had to borrow the money from the bank we would have to pay it back over a certain number of years. We are paying it back over 20 years, without interest. That's a really neat way of doing it, and that's the way we are going forward with all of these things," Thornton said about any large community improvement projects. "The Town will commit some money at the outset, then the community will raise the balance. Once that's done, they will know our money is there, the project will happen, and we will pay our savings account back over time. It is a really neat new process."

"You can do it one of several different ways," said Councillor Hartman. "This one was having funds set aside for it, should our partners and the Curling Club come up with any additional funds it goes back into reserves." Hartman said "We want to multi-purpose it, it could be the golf clubhouse too, potentially (as one option). We have reserves. As I understand it, our portion is to improve our town considerably.  We are putting money into reserves for the skating rink, one day we are going to have to replace that too. It's just one way of doing it. It's still in discussion. You always want to explore how to make the town better, but it is all just theory at this stage."

The next regular Council Meeting is scheduled for 6:00 pm Monday, January 12, 2015.

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