At City Hall
| Posted: Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 06:00 am
City in good financial shape: quarterly corporate report
In addition to updates on projects and programs, city council got an update on the municipality’s financial condition as part of the quarterly corporate report presented during the Aug. 26 meeting.
So far, as of the end of June, the operating budget surplus is about $334,000, though Greg Dahlen, the city’s director of assessment and taxation, cautioned these are by no means final numbers.
A net increase for water revenue is also expected.
In terms of debt, Dahlen said St. Albert has $54.6 million in debt outstanding as of June 30. Dahlen said the debt per capita is about $932 per person based on a population of 60,994. He said it was the second lowest debt, debt service and debt payments per capita when compared to the similarly-sized Alberta municipalities of Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Airdrie, Spruce Grove and Leduc. Spruce Grove had the lowest.
He called the surpluses in the operating budget and the utility revenue minor.
“It’s always good when you’re seeing surplus, especially one that’s very tight,” he said.
“In conclusion the quarter two financial report continues to show we’re in a strong financial position,” Dahlen said. Council accepted the corporate report for information.
No regular council meetings scheduled for October
With all councillors in their seats on Aug. 26, city council was at last able to update their meeting calendar until the election.
Under the new calendar, the last regular city council meeting before the election will be held the afternoon of Sept. 23. Nominations to run for mayor or council are due by noon on Sept. 23.
Any meetings held after the Sept. 23 meeting but before the Oct. 21 election would have to be called as a special meeting by the mayor or a majority of councillors.
Sept. 9 is a standing committee on finance meeting, followed by regularly scheduled meetings Sept. 16 and Sept. 23.
The previously set council meeting schedule had to be scrapped as the trial of the proposed new committee structure has been put off until 2014. The new calendar could only be adopted with all members of council present.
Council unanimously voted in favour of accepting the calendar recommended by staff.
Outside Agency Budget Guiding Principles tweaked
Council approved amendments to the policy that guides funding provided to community support organizations out of city funds during the Aug. 19 council meeting.
Councillors passed the amendments as recommended by staff without many changes. Changes include allowing for inflation equal to the Consumer Price Index as of May 1 of the current year in the requests.
Coun. Malcolm Parker made a motion to scrap the wording that allows for inflation in the funding requests.
“It isn’t a common business practice,” Parker said. “To me it tends to open the door to provide additional funding when it may not be necessary.”
Parker’s motion was defeated after there was a 3-3 split. Coun. Cathy Heron, Parker and Coun. Cam MacKay voted for the motion. Coun. Wes Brodhead, Coun. Len Bracko and Mayor Nolan Crouse voted against it. Coun. Roger Lemieux was absent. In the case of a tie vote, motions are defeated.
Heron then made a motion to change the wording of the policy to ensure that any funds that aren’t being requested from a current recipient won’t be included in the allowance.
“It’s a quick change just to deal with a change that has arisen in the last few months,” Heron said, reminding council the youth centre recently closed. “Their allocated money should not be in the allowance.”
That motion to amend the wording was carried unanimously. A motion to approve the policy was also carried unanimously.
Number, source requirements of new EDAB directors removed
Council passed a motion approving recommended amendments to the terms of reference for the new economic development advisory board (EDAB) on Aug. 19.
The recommendation, accepted unanimously, removed requirements to specifically include four members from each of the now defunct St. Albert economic development advisory committee and the brand leadership team (BLT). The new clause calls for the EDAB to respect the history and contribution of both organizations and “to include, if practical, at least one member from each of the recently discontinued SAEDAC and BLT committees on the inaugural board.”
Council was informed there were a number of strong applicants for the new board. Interviews have been completed and selection of the members will take place soon.
Future noise attenuation policy changes possible
The mayor proposed a motion calling for administration to bring possible changes to noise attenuation policy and/or engineering standards to achieve lower noise levels in future residential neighbourhoods during the Aug. 19 meeting.
Administration is due to bring the potential changes, and information on what implications such changes could have on existing neighbourhoods, back by Jan. 31, 2015. “I think we can influence the future,” Crouse said. The motion was passed unanimously by council.
Traffic impact to be assessed
A motion to have city staff assess of the impact of Ray Gibbon Drive’s third stage opening on traffic and make any recommendations for changes to council by March 31, 2015 was passed during the Aug. 19 meeting.
The third stage of the drive is not yet open. Crouse proposed the motion, which was amended to have the report come back by March rather than January 2015. Council was unanimous in passing the motion.
Agreement reached with firefighters
A new collective agreement between the city and the International Association of Fire Fighters has been ratified.
The agreement covers Jan. 1, 2012 to Dec. 31, 2014, giving the 100 employees that are part of the agreement wage increases of 3.4 per cent in 2012, 2.75 per cent in 2013 and 2.6 per cent in 2014, a news release from the city says. A market adjustment for 2013 is included in the agreement.
Council reviewed and approved the agreement during the Aug. 19 council meeting. Council discussion about the negotiation matter was shown as part of the in camera session.