A special council meeting for the Village of Rockyford was held on Thursday, March 18 where council awarded a tender for planned infrastructure upgrades and were presented with the proposed 2021 Operating Budget.
Despite challenges imposed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on preparing the budget, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Elaine Macdonald presented council with a balanced budget with a zero per cent tax increase.
“There was a one per cent difference in assessments,” she said during the meeting. “How the zero per cent increase affects you as a taxpayer will all depend on which way your assessment went.”
One point of concern which was brought up was the budgeted contribution to the Canadian Badlands Tourism.
Canadian Badlands was founded in 2006 and is a not-for-profit organization. It is supported financially through a total of 66 shareholder municipalities as well as funding from Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation. In 2020, much of the organization’s funding through the provincial government was redistributed out of tourism grants due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the organization took a hard hit.
Rockyford Mayor Darcy Burke and Councillor Dalia Cheshire noted Canadian Badlands had not put forward an approved budget, and neither felt it was “fiscally responsible” to make a contribution. Mayor Burke noted two of the organization’s largest municipal partners--Lethbridge and Medicine Hat--have also withdrawn contributions.
“Lots of organizations go through restructuring, that does not stop every day business,” Mayor Burke stated during the meeting. He suggested keeping the requisition from Canadian Badlands in the proposed 2021 Operating Budget until further discussion can be held at the regular council meeting on Wednesday, April 14.
Mayor Burke thanked CAO Macdonald for her efforts to create a balanced budget, despite decreased revenues due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and increased expenses imposed by the new policing funding model.
The village is also looking to add a new commercial property along Railway Avenue, according to Mayor Burke. “Council is excited to hear of the addition to this potential business as it brings forward more traffic flow in the community, and an increase in commercial tax revenues,” Mayor Burke told the Mail.
The operating budget will be brought back to the regular Wednesday, April 14 council meeting for final approval.
Council then discussed the tender to complete upgrades to water and sewer lines along 1st Street East. The upgrades are part of the $500 million Municipal Stimulus Program put forward by the provincial government for shovel-ready projects announced in December 2020.
Mayor Burke noted repaving will also be completed following completion of the infrastructure upgrades.
A total of eight bids were received prior to closing on Tuesday, March 16, and Calgary company ConSite Construction was awarded the contract in the amount of $538,839. ConSite estimates it will take approximately 21 days to complete the work, from the beginning of excavation to completion of paving.
One stipulation of the contract is if work is not completed within this time frame, ConSite will pay MPE Engineering $1,500 per day beyond the original 21 days to be on-site.
Work to upgrade the water and sewer lines is estimated to begin the first week of April.