Councillor Dean LaBerge absent.

Delegations

The Swan Hills RCMP’s new Detachment Commander, Sgt. Stefan Manaigre, introduced himself to the Swan Hills Town Council. Sgt. Manaigre and his family have been in Swan Hills for roughly three weeks. They have two children, one of whom will be starting kindergarten at Swan Hills School.

Request For Decision (RFD)

Council reviewed 3 RFDs:

· FCSS Organizational Change: At the November 8 meeting, Council discussed the potential for having the FCSS Board dissolve and moving the FCSS department to report to Council through the CAO. The FCSS director would report to the CAO like the other directors/managers within the organization. This reorganization was proposed due to the FCSS Board not being truly required due to the limited funding within the FCSS budget; most of the money/funding is used to run the regular day-to-day operations and programming and not many board decisions are required. The FCSS Board is in agreement and supports the reorganization. The budget/funding for the Town would not change, and the current services/programming would be maintained. The main difference would be that the FCSS Director reports directly to the CAO. Council passed a motion approving the dissolving of the FCSS Board and the reorganization to have the FCSS department report to Council through the Chief Administrative Officer starting January 1, 2024.

· Swan Hills Treatment Centre (SHTC) Committee: Over the past month, there have been discussions on creating a working committee with Big Lakes County to secure the future of the SHTC. In talks with Big Lakes County on November 14, it was decided that this step was the best way for the two municipalities to move forward. The Town of Swan Hills’ recommendation is to have three members of Council and one member of administration from each of the municipalities. A letter was sent to Big Lakes County to have them join and appoint their members (as discussed at the meeting). Once membership is determined, the committee can discuss the next steps. Council passed a motion appointing three members of Council (Mayor Craig Wilson, Councillors Krawiec and LaBerge) and one member of Town Administration (CAO Bill Lewis) to join the Swan Hills Treatment Centre working committee.

· 2024 Interim Budget and Capital Plan Review and Discussion: Cao Bill Lewis gave a comprehensive review of the draft interim budget for 2024. Inflation, gas prices, and a further increase in police funding costs as per the province’s police funding model continue to result in increased expenditures for the Town. The Town of Swan Hills paid $43,159 in 2023 to cover 20% of policing costs. The Town will pay $64,738 in 2024 to cover 30% of policing costs. According to the province’s police funding model, the Town will continue to pay 30% of these costs from now on. In addition to higher prices for purchased items, other expenses such as insurance, IT services, and contractor bids for projects continue to increase. To balance the budget in light of the Town’s increased expenditures, the proposed 2024 budget includes a tax increase of 1%. Discussions of the three-year financial plan and five-year capital plan were also on the agenda, but these plans hadn’t been completed by the time of this Town Council meeting. The interim budget for 2023, the three-year financial plan, and the five-year capital plan will be revisited for further discussion at the next Town Council meeting on December 13.

CAO Report

· Attended a meeting in High Prairie with Big Lakes and the Minister of Infrastructure (via zoom) regarding the Swan Hills Treatment Centre.

· Discussed having an SHTC working committee with Big Lakes County on November 14.

· Administration continues to work on the Alberta Disaster Recovery Program paperwork and requirements.

· Working on budget preparations for the various departments.

· Working on Capital and operational funding plans.

· Staff are working on Light Up preparations for the November 30 event.

Operations And Infrastructure

· The reservoir project is set to resume on November 28, as communicated by the engineering group. The project should be complete, including commissioning, before year-end if all goes well.

· PW has installed the Christmas lights for the season. The plaza preparation for Lite-Up will be completed the week of December 20.

· PW has painted measurements on the curbs for all main valves in town to expedite locates. This step will help to cut down on response times in winter months when water main breaks occur.

· The Water Treatment Plant will work with contractors to perform required maintenance within the plant over the next few months. This will include filtration tank replacement, system leaks within the treatment plant, and preventative maintenance.

· The last semi-annual pump survey was completed during this reporting period. There were no problems requiring attention identified within our systems.

By Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Nov 29, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Grizzly Gazette   Swan Hills, Alberta

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