Residents can expect to soon see a new charge on their utility bills.
To prepare for the province downloading some of its policing costs onto small and rural municipalities, council approved generating a bylaw to create a special tax levy that will be listed on the town’s water invoice at its meeting on March 19.
Bashaw is facing a hike of over $15,700 in costs that will be due early next year and determined this route was the best way to show how the town is being impacted by this decision as well as limiting the impact to its operations.
CAO Theresa Fuller explained the new charge works out to be $7.29 per utility bill (water, sewer, garbage).
“This enables the town to be transparent and make it clear we have no control over this cost,” she said.
“If council accepts this, the charge would be put on starting with the next bill.”
Some discussion was held about charging per unit, since some facilities receive just one bill and it would help drive down the price. However, for seniors facilities, the money taken in would likely just get funnelled back through a higher requisition from the authority that operates them.
Fuller added this was the most fair way as properties that are exempt from property tax pay a utility charge.
Coun. Rob McDonald agrees this is necessary and knows there will be some complaints coming.
“We can say this is not us at all, but that it’s the province doing this, and if you don’t like it call the MLA,” he said.
Fuller explained this is a unique situation and it’s just a matter of the town being proactive and spacing out the amount over time that will be invoiced in 2021.
Administration is now preparing the bylaw for council to consider at its meeting on April 2.
Council accepted the tender from Border Paving worth $157,000 for paving of the final portion of the 54 Ave. project.
A total of six companies submitted bids on the job that also includes the laneway off 54 Ave. as well as some patching in town.
Fuller stated work is expected to begin in June with completion by Aug. 15, depending on weather.
The funds to pay for it will come from the town’s roads and equipment reserve.
In light of the situation with coronavirus, council reviewed its emergency management bylaw and what responsibilities and actions are outlined for both council and staff. As of now, council feels there isn’t a need to invoke these measures locally.
An update was also provided on what the town and partners like Bashaw District Support Services (BDSS) are doing to keep the public informed.
The town office remains open, but has instituted a more stringent cleaning and access policy in addition to allowing residents to pay online or through e-transfers.
Meanwhile, BDSS has launched a new website at www.bashawbriefs.com to provide up-to-date information regarding the virus, what to do to stay safe as well as how to access any assistance residents may need should they have to self-isolate.
Fuller said the town is keeping an eye on things as they have a limited staff that are needed to continue operating.
As part of that, council accepted Fuller’s recommendation to reduce the number of council meeting to one per month.
Coun. Lynn Schultz added that a special meeting can be called quickly if needed.
Council was told the scrap dealer that was contacted about the old ice resurfacer only takes large volumes of scrap metal, but there has been one inquiry about purchasing the old unit. It was decided to wait for a while before determining what will ultimately be done with it. There was no time frame given on when the issue may be back before council.