DIDSBURY - There were several lengthy discussions at the recent regularly scheduled Didsbury council meeting on matters including the interim budget, the rates, fees and fines bylaw, and consideration of a subclass tax rate.
Interim 2020 budget passed
Council adopted the 2019 operating budget as the 2020 interim operating budget, and accepted the multi-year operating plan, which outlines an approach to long-term financial management and helps to align short-term actions with long-term strategies.
After considerable discussion, council also approved as amended the rates, fees and fine bylaw (2019-15), which includes a variable water rate of $2.50 per cubic metre.
During the deliberations, Coun. Bill Windsor suggested the town put in place a water/wastewater cost recovery policy to help direct what the rates would be going forward.
“We just don’t have a policy that says we’re going to recover the cost of the water or wastewater at all,” said Windsor. “We’re making an assumption here. We assume that’s going to be the case but we have nothing that says that’s what we’re going to do.”
Council decided to go with the option of setting the variable water rate at $2.50 per cubic metre, instead of the two options presented by administration, which were $3.72 and $3.11.
Coun. Erhard Poggemiller asked if council would be going over the rates, fees and fines in closer detail.
“I just want to make sure this is going to happen and we’re actually going to deal with this stuff and do something about it,” said Poggemiller.
He suggested a committee be formed to look closer into the rates, fees and fines and report back to council.
Direct control public hearing held
After a public hearing was held, Didsbury council approved final reading of Bylaw 2019-12, which adds DC-IND: Direct Control – Industrial to 10 plots of land on 19th and 20th Streets and 29th Avenue.
The administrative review given to council stated that not having this direct control district in the land use bylaw means that there are no uses or district requirements to guide development for the 10 lots zoned DC.
Council granted a second and third reading to the bylaw and both resolutions were carried.
Council passed first reading of bylaw 2019-13, which would add DC-01: Direct Control District – Industrial to a plot of land on 23rd Street.
Council also set a public hearing for the bylaw for Jan. 14, 2020 in council chambers.
Residential subclass tax rate discussed
Council received a report from administration regarding a proposed residential subclass tax rate.
In a motion from a council meeting in November, council directed administration to bring back a report outlining three scenarios of residential subclass tax rates for unserviced Didsbury lots three acres or larger: two per cent lower than the residential tax rate (equivalent to 8.3); a 4.16 per cent subclass tax rate; and a 5.7 per cent subclass tax rate.
The report states that 5.7 per cent is the midpoint between the residential subclass for the Town of Didsbury and Mountain View County, while 4.16 per cent is calculated as the average rate for municipal districts in Alberta.
The report also states that there are 20 properties in the town that would be impacted by the special residential subclass.
Coun. John Baswick questioned why the subclass rate was only for residents with three acres or more.
“Why did you choose that number?” said Baswick. “What if I have an acre or an acre and a half am I not included in this?”
Coun. Dorothy Moore stated that three acres was what the county and the provincial Municipal Government Act refers to as a residential area on a piece of farm land.
“We were trying to find some starting point because this was so big,” said Moore. “Certainly there are properties that don’t have water or sewer. I think it’s important that they don’t have any services of any kind but at the beginning we were looking at annexed properties and that’s sort of why it stayed at that level so we had a starting point.
“Three acres on a farm property is designated as the residential portion.”
The residential subclass tax rate report was accepted as information by council.
Council approved a second motion to have administration bring back information regarding lots that are one acre or larger, unserviced and do not have access to town services.
“Council asked administration to prepare a similar report but changed the parameters from three or more acres to one or more acres,” said interim CAO Amanda Riley.