Big Valley village council wants to meet with their County of Stettler counterparts to discuss a $30,000 invoice the smaller municipality says it has no record it ever committed to paying. The resolution to request a meeting was passed at Big Valley’s March 18 regular council meeting.

This was the first regular council meeting following the Feb. 20 by-election and featured newly elected Mayor Chantel Janke and Coun. Tim Fields along with current Coun. Dan Houle.

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Colleen Mayne provided councillors with an update on an invoice the village received from the County of Stettler for $32,206.91 described as “BF 07577 Bridge Replacement” on the document. 

At a previous council meeting it was noted the invoice represented what the County of Stettler claimed was the village’s share of construction on the bridge located on Twp. Rd. #355 which connects Big Valley’s Railway Ave. to Hwy. 56. The construction work was completed in summer of 2023.

When the invoice was last discussed the Village of Big Valley was without council quorum and still under the guidance of the provincial government’s Official Administrator (OA) Gene Sobolewski; at that time the OA decided the issue should be tabled for the newly elected council to decide.

The CAO previously reported while she found a resolution on file of the Village of Big Valley sending a letter of support for the County of Stettler’s grant applications for this bridge project, Mayne couldn’t find any record of a resolution committing money to the project. 

Mayne provided a copy of the support letter to councillors which was approved by resolution Nov. 26, 2020.

“Upon receipt of the invoice, the village CAO had requested the county provide a copy of the STIP grant application to which the letter of support related to; a copy has yet to be provided,” stated Mayne’s report to council.

“Upon review of the Village of Big Valley 2023 budget no funds could be identified for that project, nor did council authorize the transfer of funds to the ATB operating account in anticipation of paying. 

Without an agreement or resolution in place the invoice is being tabled to the first regular council meeting following the restoration of quorum, for their consideration.”

Mayne presented councillors with three options for the invoice: pay the bill; request a meeting with the County of Stettler to talk about the invoice; or table the issue again in order to gather more information.

Mayne noted she spent about two hours discussing this issue with County of Stettler CAO Yvette Cassidy who gave Mayne the impression the Village of Big Valley had made a commitment to chip in on the bridge project. 

Mayne added that the Village of Big Valley works closely with the County of Stettler on many projects and suggested that if this invoice was not paid the relationship between the two municipalities may be damaged.

Coun. Houle noted there was no resolution passed to help pay for the bridge construction, and questioned whether the bridge was necessary; Houle pointed out the Village of Big Valley has three other accesses. 

Houle also pointed out because of the village’s permanent road bans, that bridge plays little role in commercial traffic entering Big Valley.

Houle also stated he was concerned about paying over $30,000 because that is a huge portion of the village’s annual budget, adding that if the village does pay this bill more documentation is needed.

The OA was in attendance and confirmed he too spoke to County of Stettler representatives about the invoice, including Reeve Larry Clarke, CAO Cassidy and one other councillor and Sobolewski noted the County of Stettler was adamant a verbal or handshake agreement was made that Big Valley would help pay for the bridge replacement. 

Sobolewski stated his opinion was that meeting directly with the County of Stettler to talk about this issue was a good idea.

Councillors unanimously passed a resolution that village staff will contact the County of Stettler and request a meeting to discuss the bridge replacement invoice.

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 27, 2024 at 13:42

This item reprinted with permission from   East Central Alberta Review   Coronation, Alberta

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