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  |  Posted: Wednesday, Dec 04, 2013 06:00 am

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Temp budget delayed

Town council kicked a proposed interim budget down the road last week to get some more information on the numbers behind it.

Council voted unanimously to table a proposed interim budget for 2014 at its Nov. 26 meeting. The $3.56 million budget was meant to cover the first four months of 2013.

Council is obliged under the Municipal Government Act to pass a budget before the end of the year, but can also pass an interim budget to cover part of next year. This interim budget was meant to give council more time for public consultation.

The interim budget would cover January to March of 2014, said Andy Isbister, the town’s financial services director, and was calculated by taking the 2013 budget and dividing it by four.

It included no new capital projects, said chief administrative officer Debbie Oyarzun, and was meant to cover wages and operating costs for four months. “It’s just to keep the lights on.”

Oyarzun portrayed the numbers in the budget as placeholders. “The intent is not to spend up to that amount. It just provides us the guidelines in which to operate.”

While supportive of an interim budget, Coun. Stephen Dafoe took issue with the fact that it proposed to hold spending at 2013 levels. “When are we seeing an opportunity to tighten our belt if that’s what we need to do for the first quarter?”

Council would still have the rest of the year in which to grow or cut spending in the budget, Isbister said in an interview.

Public consultation on the full budget would happen in January and February, Isbister said, with the budget passed by March.

The interim budget returns to council Dec. 10.

Town still speeding

Morinville may have reached its limit when it comes to using education and enforcement to stop speeders, says the town’s photo radar provider.

Council received its third quarter report last Nov. 26, which included the latest report on speeding from Bruce Kaminski, owner of photo radar provider Independent Traffic Services.

About 1,426 speeding tickets were issued in town between July and September, the report found, a big spike from the 624 it issued in those same months last year.

2012 saw a drop in tickets issued because residents asked ITS to do more enforcement in the core of the town, Kaminski said in an interview, which has less speeding than the outskirts. ITS went back to patrolling high-speeding areas this year, explaining the increase. Tickets are now back to the levels seen in this quarter prior to 2012.

About 21 per cent of drivers entering town from the east on 100 Ave. did so at more than the 50 kilometre an hour speed limit, the report found, with at least one driver travelling at 144 km/h. Still, the average speed so far this year was 43 km/h, suggesting that most drivers followed the speed limit.

Education and enforcement caused a three per cent drop in the number of speeders detected by the downtown educational speed sign last quarter compared to the same time last year, the report found. However, there were still thousands of speeding cars in town.

This suggests that Morinville may have reached a peak when it comes to the effectiveness of education and enforcement, Kaminski said. “You get to a point where things kind of plateau.”

Morinville may see a spike in tickets this quarter now that ITS has brought in its radar truck for night-time enforcement, Kaminski said. “It’s getting as many or more speeders during the night than we get during the day,” he said of the truck. Other tactics, such as new signage or building roundabouts, could also reduce speeding in town.

Council supported a motion from Dafoe to move the east-end speed display sign on 100 Ave. closer to the east end of town so that it detected speeders before, not after, they went past a busy school bus drop-off site.

Mild support for organics

A recent town survey suggests residents might want to add full organics pickup to their waste program – provided it doesn’t cost extra.

Public works director Claude Valcourt summarized the results of a survey sent out with utility bills earlier this year on the town’s waste program. About 302 bill recipients (or about 10 per cent) responded.

About 53 per cent of respondents wanted the town to have full organics recycling, the survey found, which would include both kitchen and yard waste. About 61 per cent would support full organics if it cost the same or less as the current waste disposal system (which includes trash, recyclables and yard waste).

While about 93 per cent of residents said they were satisfied with the town’s weekly trash collection, just 51 per cent said they would support going to bi-weekly (once every two weeks) collection if the town brought in organics recycling.

Valcourt said the town could potentially reduce its waste disposal costs if it took that latter step – once you have organics recycling, there’s very little actual non-recyclable trash to collect, so you don’t have to make as many trips to collect it. (St. Albert switched to bi-weekly trash collection when it brought in organics recycling.)

It would be up to council to decide if it should bring in full organics, Valcourt said.


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