At Town Council
| Posted: Friday, Sep 06, 2013 06:00 am
Online billing comes to town
Town residents will soon be able to pay their taxes online using Morinville’s snazzy new website.
Morinville council got a sneak peak at the Town of Morinville’s new website last week. The site, which has been in the works since February, features a design similar to the ones used by Strathcona County and St. Albert Public Schools.
Its biggest new feature is the ability for residents to pay town taxes and utility bills online. By registering on the secure website, explained town finance manager Shawna Jason, residents can view and pay their bills whenever they want, as well as do property searches. “They won’t need to call in to review their information.”
Residents can also get their bills emailed to them. “We have the potential to save nearly $30,000 if all residents sign up for utility e-billing,” Jason said – they expect to save about $5,000 this year.
The town hoped to get about 500 residents signed up on the website this year, Jason said, eventually rising to 1,000 (or about 30 per cent of the town). Residents who sign up before Oct. 5 will get a chance to win tickets to shows at the Community Cultural Centre.
The site is secure and encrypted, she added, and uses the same technology that banks use for online payments.
The town hopes to add online pet and business license renewal and an online business directory to the site next year, Jason said. Residents who choose to do so will be able to make their pet’s information publically available to help peace officers return lost pets home.
The site goes live Sept. 9.
The gazebo in the centre of Morinville will soon become a permanent memorial for a former mayor.
Town council moved unanimously last week to dedicate the gazebo in St. Jean Baptiste Park to the memory of former mayor Paul Krauskopf, who died earlier this summer.
Known to many as “Mr. Morinville,” Krauskopf was a lifelong town resident and an active member of many community groups, including the Knights of Columbus and the fire department. Some 500 people attended his funeral in July.
Council discussed at some length the question of doing something to commemorate Krauskopf, said Mayor Gordon Boddez. “Mr. Krauskopf, Mayor Krauskopf and Coun. Krauskopf prior to that has dedicated all of his life to serving this community, and serving it very well.” Krauskopf had a big heart, he continued, and well deserved this honour.
The gazebo will be enhanced with two park benches or an appropriate equivalent.
Penalties proposed for grants
Councillors want to get tough on grant recipients this fall by bringing in penalties for those who don’t account for how they use the town’s cash.
Council received a report on a proposed update to the town’s community grant policy. Originally set to go to a vote in before the summer break, council decided to put the report off until September.
“We want to make it easy for everyone to understand and access,” town chief administrative officer Debbie Oyarzun said of the new grant policy. The policy features a more detailed application form and excludes perpetual and FCSS (Family and Community Support Services) grants, as those come from a separate pot of money.
Grants will no longer be given out retroactively, the policy reads, and will be awarded three times per year instead of four. Grants would only be given to non-profit groups and could not be used for fundraising, but could be awarded to the same group more than once per year. Currently, groups can only receive one community grant per year.
Several councillors, such as Coun. David Pattison, wanted the town to penalize groups that failed to file a report within 60 days of their events on how they used their grants. “We’re accountable as councillors,” he said. “We need to hold applicants accountable.”
Right now, Oyarzun said, applicants are disqualified from further grants until they file all their grant reports. Coun. Nicole Boutestein suggested a fine, while Pattison wanted the whole grant repaid.
Coun. Sheldon Fingler suggested a one-year ban on grants for late reports. “We like giving away money, but we want people to be accountable for it.”
Council will re-examine its grant policy this Sept. 10.