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Last updateMon, 25 Mar 2019 2pm

Town Council approves tax supported operating budget

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    Drumheller town council approved the 2019 tax-supported operating budget at their meeting on Monday, finding approximately $407,000 in savings in the budget and a municipal property tax requisition increase of 1.9 per cent.
    Ahead of budget talks late last year, council had directed administration to look at ways to reduce the budget by 5 per cent for 2019. Administration managed to cut 4.9 per cent through a combination of finding great efficiencies, contract negotiations, cuts to the Badlands Community Facility’s and outdoor pool’s operations (all opening up about $407,000 in funding), and an increase of 1.9 per cent of property tax requisition.
    “Throughout the year, together, we will continue to look for ways to streamline our operations,” said Deputy Mayor Fred Makowecki. “At the same time, including as many new requests for funding we could afford including the Economic Task Force recommendation of a full time Economic Development Officer, we still had new spending requests in excess of $300,000. It is only through the efficiencies in operating found by administration the tax increase was kept to a minimum.”
    The requisition, which will be $8,884,435 this year, equates to an additional $3 per month in property taxes for an average Drumheller household, Mayor Heather Colberg said at the meeting.
    “This year we will see a reduced rural MSI (Municipal Sustainability Initiative) grant, an increase in energy costs, plus the carbon tax, all which are out of our control,” Colberg said in a release. “We are proud of the efforts of administration to lower our expenditures and fund programs within our budget.”
    The Badlands Community Facility will be closed on six additional holidays (Good Friday, Easter Monday, Victoria Day, Heritage Day, Labour Day, and Thanksgiving), and operating hours will be reduced by closing one hour earlier each day. The operating season of the outdoor pool will also be reduced, to be open from the last week of June to Labour Day. These cuts reflect close to $30,000 in savings.
    These changes were made after finding the usage of the facilities was quite low late in the evening and on stat holidays.

Protect yourself from vehicle theft

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    With a recent rash of vehicle thefts in the valley, residents are on high alert, but there are ways people can protect themselves.
     Car thefts are nothing new and sadly Alberta has the worst record for vehicle thefts.
        “’Unfortunately Alberta is leading in all the wrong ways,” says Jeff Kasbrick, president of government and stakeholder relations at AMA. “We have been the number one province for vehicle theft, and that’s in the total number, not just the proportions. We represent 29.2 percent of all vehicle thefts that occur in the country. And we have 12 per cent of the population.
    “When you look at the numbers province-wide there has been a 56 percent increase in the number of vehicle thefts, so it is a really staggering number. In 2017 there were 24,830 vehicles stolen, 68 vehicles per day.”
    He said the AMA has launched its Lock It or Lose It campaign to focus on some ways people can not be a victim and prevent vehicle thefts.
    “We have often seen upwards of 50 per cent of vehicles that are stolen in the province unfortunately are when there are keys in the vehicle or the vehicle is left idling,” said Kasbrick. ”Although circumstance of vehicle theft is never acceptable, there are few things we can do ourselves to prevent vehicle theft.”
        These are as simple as removing your keys when you leave your vehicle unattended. This also means locking your doors and removing any valuables from plains sight within the vehicle. That can include removing your personal documentation.
    “The reason why we suggest that is because it has a lot of personal data that is relevant to you. It could be an opportunity for identity theft which would just add insult to injury if your vehicle is stolen but also if your garage door opener is left in your vehicle then they have an address in your vehicle, you make that criminal’s job just a little easier,” he said.
    He adds technology might be part of the solution. This could be anything from alarm systems to automatic starters that work in a secure vehicle, to tracking technology.
    While many are crimes of opportunity, he says vehicle theft runs the gamut from joyriding to organized crime.
    “Vehicles can be shipped fraudulently overseas … or vehicles can be used for other crimes. It goes far beyond some of what our initial concepts may be, it can be a very sophisticated operation,” said Kasbrick.
    “We never want to lose that basic trust of our neighours  and those who live in the same city as us but unfortunately we know the fact of the matter is there are some people who don’t have the greatest of intents, so we have to look out for ourselves and we have to look out for one and another.”
    With the advent of social media, often the eyes on the ground are much further spread than simply your neighbours. Often the word of a theft is posted quickly seen by many.
    “If you do see some suspicious activity, always contact the RCMP and make them aware of what you are observing, but it is a very good thing to many eyes in the community, and the vast majority of people have really good intentions. Be aware of your surroundings and report it to the RCMP  so they can take appropriate action,” he said.

Spike belt stops stolen vehicle fleeing Drumheller RCMP

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Two individuals were arrested Sunday after Drumheller and Three Hills RCMP deployed a spike belt to stop a stolen vehicle which had been driving on a rim while fleeing police.

Around 1:00 pm on March 17, Drumheller RCMP received a tip that a truck originally stolen out of Sylvan Lake earlier that day was at the Drumheller Walmart, where the suspects were stealing from, after a friend of the owners recognized the vehicle.

RCMP attended where they boxed in the vehicle to prevent it from leaving, but the suspects rammed a parked vehicle, blowing out one of their tires.

“It basically left a trail of debris which was a nice bread crumb to follow,” said Corporal Sherk, adding that they did not pursue the vehicle at a close distance. “Our reasons for not pursuing at that point was that there was a good chance that if they were pushed they would end up in a accident and hurt an innocent bystander. Their manner of driving was very dangerous anyways so giving them reasons to be more aggressive with their driving would likely cause someone to be hurt.”

Police followed the vehicle up Highway 56 where they coordinated with Three Hills RCMP to deploy a spike belt to stop the vehicle by blowing out the three remaining tires and the suspects were taken into custody.

The two suspects from Red Deer, are facing a total of 12 charges including dangerous driving, flight from police, possession of stolen property, and breaches of probation.

The suspects’ names and specific charges will be released by RCMP on Tuesday.

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