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Engineering services, reorganization, more discussed at recent Paintearth County meeting

Highlights from the Nov. 28 council meeting
County of Paintearth

By Carson Ellis

For the Castor Advance

Paintearth council made a couple of additions to its Nov. 28 meeting agenda. Additions included future meeting dates and oilfield write-offs. The new points were accepted with a motion by Coun. George Glazier.

Chief administrative officer (CAO) Michael Simpson addressed council about preliminary Engineering Services at the Crowfoot Crossing. Simpson recommended council pull $35,000 from reserves in the 2023 budget to accommodate preliminary engineering services regarding the industrial park development project.

The request was in the interest of keeping the project moving forward smoothly. Preliminary work would include completing a topographical survey of the site, developing a conceptual plan of the undeveloped lot, as well as developing a plan for grading and the necessary earthwork volume for development.

The development was awarded funds from the Federal government in July, giving the county $2.3 million, with the county paying the balance from reserves, but was not awarded in time for the construction season. Coun. Dale Norton motioned to approve the allocation of funds, which carried.

County reorganization

Assistant CAO Lana Roth addressed council regarding a corporate reorganization of the county administration. The changes were discussed at the Paintearth County Organizational meeting and are in line with practices designed to improve workflow and reduce bottlenecking as new strategic plans are developed.

The new system is designed to improve administrative efforts in activities such as contract negotiations, lobbying with stakeholders and community partners, as well as managing complex aspects of strategic operations and planning.

Three new positions are being created as part of the corporate reorganization. The positions are:

- Strategic Initiatives Manager

- Financial Manager

-Financial Clerk.

Coun. Vockeroth, for clarification purposes, asked if the new position meant administration would be hiring for the positions, but Roth explained that the new positions would be filled internally. The new administrative organization system was carried out with a motion from Coun. Norton.

Assessment changes

Administration has recently completed reviewing prior year assessment changes due to the Land and Property Rights Tribunal decision which was handed down in June of 2023.

The assessment review started in 2018 and ended in 2021 and found that adjustments needed to be made.

Since the county is in the practice of moving operating surplus funds to restricted reserves. Administration required council to approve allocating funds from the restricted surplus to cover property tax reimbursement.

Administration requested that council move $707,352.92 from restricted surplus operating contingency to unrestricted surplus to fund the decision on roll #70005980. Coun Wiart’s motion to proceed with the transfer of funds was carried.

Stop signs

Council revisited the topic of placing temporary stop signs on major roadways that will see an increase in traffic during renewable energy project construction. Both Capital Power and Borea Construction have addressed the subject with both the County Peace Officer and other departments. County administration will be asking Borea Construction to provide the stop signs. Coun Norton’s motion to proceed with the stop signs was carried.

The stop signs will be installed along Township Road 400 intersections for Range Roads 143-154 and similar intersections along Township Road 402.

Remuneration policy

Council authorized changes to their Remuneration, Expenses, and Benefits Policy.

The changes were largely just small increases such as mileage, now .65 cents per kilometre, and meals will be $25 for breakfast $25 for lunch, and $35 for dinner.

Increases also include full-day and half-day meeting rates. Both items are for when the council members are away at approved meetings The increases are in line with changes in other municipalities and are still notably lower than some others. The changes were authorized with a carried motion by Coun. Norton.

Outstanding debt

Assistant CAO Roth spoke to council about administration’s efforts to collect the outstanding debt from oilfield companies. Her team, along with the county lawyers, have issued demand letters.

Shortly after, one of the companies sent back copies of court documents absolving them of responsibility to pay outstanding taxes before the sale of the company. The outstanding tax account for the company is $38,960.46 in property taxes before 2020. Coun Vockeroth motioned to write off the outstanding amount.