Information from Drumheller Town Council Regular Council Meeting
Monday, March 7, 2022
Mayor Heather Colberg opened the meeting and made several announcements.
Council meetings continue to be held virtually as the audio system in the council chambers are currently being upgraded at Town Hall.
The North Drumheller Dike community information session is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 10 on Zoom.
The Badlands Community Facility (BCF) will celebrate its 10 year anniversary on Saturday, March 12 with activities and cake cutting.
Mayor Colberg addressed the tree removal scheduled for early March in Centennial Park, Midland, and Newcastle. Pathways and trails will be closed and signage will be installed in the affected areas notifying visitors of the closures and ongoing work in these areas.
Biologists will conduct sweeps of the areas for owl and other migrating bird nests to reduce the impact on wildlife. A landscape plan is being developed to restore the ecological area and the health of trees in these areas will be assessed; trees listed as in good to fair condition will be replaced at a five to one ratio with five trees, shrubs, or a combination thereof planted for every one tree removed.
The Flood Mitigation Office is looking at ways to repurpose trees from these areas and there are ongoing discussions for various art installations and other repurposing projects for these trees; Dutch trees will be disposed to reduce the transfer of Dutch Elm Disease.
Director of Corporate Services Mauricio Reyes presented council with the draft 2022 Operating Budget of $15,644,744 and requested feedback and direction; the 2022 Operating Budget and the document will be brought back for consideration at a future meeting.
Based on the proposed draft budget, there is a proposed increase to municipal taxes of some 3.2 per cent. Mr Reyes explained the provincial Education requisition increased by 1.5 per cent in the 2022-2023 year and this has had some impacts. He added for every one per cent increase to municipal taxes will see an increase of approximately $90,000 in revenue. Other contributing factors include lower assessment values and no municipal tax revenue on properties acquired by the flood mitigation program. The tax rate increase is in line with other comparable municipalities, including Hinton (3 per cent) and Edson (4.90 per cent).
There is an expected 18 per cent increase in user fees compared to 2021 due to easing COVID-19 restrictions. These fees represent recreation revenue including bookings, rentals, and memberships.
There are proposed increases to franchise fees. There have been no changes to franchise fees in the last several years, and over the last three years revenues are estimated around $1.8 million; revenues for 2022 are anticipated to increase to between $1.85 and $1.9 million due to higher electricity and natural gas costs, however the rate is expected to remain the same as in previous years.
Some expenses are expected to increase due to easing COVID-19 restrictions, including wage and benefits for municipal employees-particularly in the recreation facilities. As these facilities were closed or unable to operate at normal capacity in 2021, expenses were below average at approximately $6.99 million; it is estimated had 2021 operated at a regular capacity wages and benefits would have been approximately $7.3 million.
To offset other expenditure increases, administration is proposing reducing amortization and transfers to capital reserves by approximately $291,000.
Administration also proposed changes to several positions, including moving the current Fire Chief position from a permanent part-time position to a permanent full-time position. Creating two Capital Project manager positions is also being proposed with one permanent full-time and one contract position to assist with managing and identifying capital projects for the capital budget.
Council offered suggestions for the draft budget, including reducing the mill rate increase. The draft 2022 Operating Budget will be brought back for further discussion and consideration at a later date.
Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Darryl Drohomerski presented council with two board applications.
Patrice Wolf applied for an opening on the Drumheller Housing Association (DHA) board and was recommended for appointment. Council approved the appointment of Ms. Wolf for a three year term ending in 2025.
Drumheller Public Library has one vacancy and has recommended applicant Tracy Abildgaard be appointed to the board. Council approved the appointment of Ms. Abildgaard for a three year term ending in 2025.
Director of Infrastructure Services Dave Brett presented council with a request for three appointments for the Drumheller Municipal Airport Commission. The Commission has recommended the re-appointment of Peter Cardamone and Don Ostergard, and to appoint Mattys Nell to fill an open vacancy. Council approved the re-appointment of Mr. Cardamone and Mr. Ostergard and the new appointment of Mr. Nell for a three year term ending in 2025.
Flood Mitigation Project director Deighen Blakely presented council with a request for decision to award the Tree Clearing Tender. The tender closed on Thursday, March 3 to allow the contractors time to complete work within current timelines to limit spread of Dutch Elm Disease (March 31) and impacts on migratory birds (mid-April). Three bids were received from Wright Tree Services of Canada Ltd operating as Arbor Care, DFH Enterprises Inc, and Martushev Logging Limited ranging from under $600,000 to upwards of $1.66 million.
Local companies attended a pre-tender meeting and received courtesy emails as the tender was posted, though no local companies bid on the work.
Council awarded the tender to Arbor Care out of Calgary in the amount of $599,171.24.
Ms. Blakely also presented council with a request for decision to award the Environmental Management Services. To date, regulatory approvals for environmental and land services have been completed on an individual design basis; it has been requested from federal regulatory agencies to look at the overall cumulative effects rather than submit per project. Approving one firm to complete this work will fulfill Alberta Environment and Parks, Alberta Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women, and other regulatory requirements throughout the program.
A request for proposal closed on Tuesday, February 22 and three proposals were received from ISL Engineering and Land Services, SweetTech Engineering Consultants, and Wood Environmental and Infrastructure Services.
Each proposal was evaluated on numerous criteria, including project understanding, key staff, qualifications, and relevant project experience; each firm received a final grade based on these criteria. Based on the overall grade it was recommended the proposal be awarded to SweetTech due to their familiarity with the Flood Mitigation Program and experience on the project. The contract, in the amount of $150,000 for a one-year term, has the option to be extended up to two years depending on the flood mitigation project needs; this contract will be funded by the $55 million awarded for the Flood Mitigation Program.
Mayor Colberg adjourned the meeting to a closed session.
Complete minutes from council meetings can be found on
www.drumheller.ca once they have been adopted.