SUNDRE — The outgoing council approved during the last regular meeting before the municipal election the 2022 Fortis franchise fee as well as an expense to upgrade the Sundre Fire Hall building’s furnace.
Providing a brief background on the recurring annual request to set the fee, Chris Albert, director of corporate services, said the municipality has the opportunity once a year to adjust the rate at its discretion.
“If council does choose to adjust it, there is a requirement to notify Fortis prior to November 1,” Albert said, adding the decision would also in that situation need to be advertised publicly in the paper for at least two weeks.
“Currently, the rate is at 10 per cent, which is quite comparable to our peers both locally and with similar demographics as us, and it does generate the required budgeted revenue,” said Albert.
Based on information provided by Fortis, he said maintaining the rate will represent a minor increase for the average estimated bill.
“This is due to anticipated price changes for natural gas and for electricity and for the service that Fortis provides,” he said, adding administration was requesting council agree to maintain the fee at 10 per cent effective Jan. 1, 2022.
According to background information included in the meeting’s agenda for council’s consideration, Carstairs and Cremona have a rate of 10 per cent, Caroline set theirs at 12 per cent, with Olds at 15 per cent and Didsbury at 17 per cent.
At 10 per cent, the franchise fee is expected to generate about $239,400 in revenue for Sundre, while causing the average bill to see an increase of about $0.34 per month, or $4.08 per year.
Council proceeded to unanimously carry a motion approving the request to maintain the 2022 franchise fee at 10 per cent.
Fire hall furnace upgrade
Council also heard from Albert that deficiencies at the Sundre Fire Hall were discovered and noted during the building’s annual inspection.
“The hall does not quite meet building codes,” said Albert. “All of the deficiencies are related to the heating system.”
The existing furnace is not sufficient to adequately heat the facility to required temperatures, especially during wintertime deep freezes, and furthermore, there are also issues regarding how the air and exhaust from the furnaces are released, he said.
“So, the fire department did go out and obtained two quotes from companies that are capable of completing the repairs,” he said. “Apparently, it is very difficult to find companies that supply and service commercial buildings such as the fire hall.”
According to background information included in council’s agenda package, the installation of a second furnace was suggested in order to improve heating and cooling efficiency within the facility as well as to maintain the existing zoning system.
Coun. Todd Dalke moved the recommended action to approve the installation of a new furnace and to carry out other repairs at the fire hall at a cost of $15,000, with the funds being drawn from the fire-capital restricted surplus account.
Seeking clarification, Coun. Cheri Funke asked whether the full cost would be borne by the municipality, or perhaps shared with Mountain View County.
“This is a 100 per cent cost to the town,” said Albert. “We do get paid various rental fees and things like that for AHS (Alberta Health Services) and other people that use the facility. So, this is our building solely.”
Without further questions or comments, council proceeded to unanimously approve Dalke’s motion.