The Bashaw Public Library is one of the facilities and programs to receive funding from the town through the provincial MSI grant, despite a drop in the grant this year. File photo

Bashaw takes funding blow as MSI lower than expected

Unexpected ice plant repairs to be absorbed through budget

The town took a pair of financial hits last month, but there really wasn’t anything that could be done.

Funding through the province’s Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) for 2019 came in lower than anticipated, then came some unforeseen repairs on the arena’s ice plant system, all of which left council a bit stunned at their Sept. 19 meeting.

CAO Theresa Fuller presented the bad news regarding the drop in MSI dollars of about $2,800 from the nearly $61,500 the town has historically received.

“The good news is we already have our money, there is no application this year,” she stated.

However, the drop forced council to approve changes to its spending for 2019, cancelling the $1,500 to construct a new wheelchair viewing area at the arena plus reducing the amount spent on water meters by more than $1,300.

Coun. Rob McDonald wasn’t pleased with the fact there was no real explanation for the drop.

“I wish (council) had found out about this and that police funding thing before the MLA (Jackie Lovely) visited (on Sept. 5),” he said.

Council had previously approved spending the funds on an administration computer software upgrade ($7,000), an arena exhaust fan ($2,200) and freon sensors ($11,000), a donation for the new minor ball batting cage ($2,000), new water meters ($12,135), new air packs for the fire department ($5,000) and budget requests from the Bashaw Public Library ($8,500), Parkland Regional Library ($6,850) and the Bashaw Bus Society ($5,000).

Ice plant fix

The ice at the arena took a bit longer to put in than expected, following some urgent work that was needed on the ice plant.

Public Works foreman Murray Holyrod helped explained that issues with both compressor motors were discovered when the ice plant was to be started on Sept. 16.

One of the motors had to be replaced at a cost of $4,300, while Fuller told council the town anticipates all of the repair work may cost around $10,000. She noted that around $14,000 was spent in 2018, but that these issues were not found at that time.

While the expense seemed bad, Fuller added the expense should be absorbed by the arena maintenance budget, although doing so will leave about $5,000 to use for the balance of the season.

New fire rules

Council approved an update to the Bashaw Fire Department’s Standard Operating Guidelines (SOGs), which includes a revision to the previous practice of voting in the fire chief and the length of term served.

The big change, starting when the position next becomes vacant, is that the fire chief will now be hired by the town.

Fuller explained to council that administration was put in a tough position during the selection of the current chief and that it would be best going forward with an application/interview process. The CAO and either a previous fire chief or other resources would conduct the process with the new chief being ratified by council.

The new chief would then answer to administration, with Fuller noting council may wind up having to look at the remuneration for the position in the future in order to recruit candidates.

In addition, a three-year term has now been imposed on the chief that could be extended for subsequent three-year terms, providing each party consents to the extension, and no limit was placed on the number of extensions allowed.

“We have been pretty fortunate to have some really great people in this position and we can count on the fire department members for a high degree of ethics,” Fuller added.

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