Notes from Council, March 31, 2024

Dear Residents & Ratepayers,

Our regular meeting on March 13th was only a half-day, however, a few important items were covered off. Council reviewed the year end transfers to reserves totalling just over $2 million dollars. The County has a projected unrestricted surplus of $900,534.00 and a restricted surplus (being allocated to offset a capital asset liability) of $51,987,627. Please keep in mind that Vulcan County’s projected equity in Tangible Capital Assets is $107,162,173.00.

The contract renewal with the County’s property assessment provider was also reviewed and approved. Benchmark Assessment provides assessment services to all municipalities in Vulcan County and has a comprehensive understanding of our region. The new contract runs from 2025 to 2030, with a starting cost of $182,000 the first year and increasing $4,000 for every year thereafter.

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Notes from Council, February 28th, 2024

Dear Residents & Ratepayers,

              Two appointments were made in February to the Chinook Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB). Iuliana Morar from the Champion Community and Mike Collins from the Milo Community put their name forward. Both individuals possess unique backgrounds that should lend itself well to this type of appointment. Once they have completed their one-day training they will be able to sit on hearings across the region for member-municipalities of the Chinook SDAB. Under the legislation, non-elected members are in higher demand since only one elected member (which I am) is allowed to sit on any hearing regardless of whether the elected official is from the jurisdiction having the appeal. As such, I thank Ms. Morar and Mr. Collins for their willingness to serve the wider region in this capacity.

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Notes from Council, January 31, 2024

Dear Residents & Ratepayers,

I want to thank Kathy Perley for her dedicated efforts to publish the Champion Chronicle every month. I understand there are some changes occurring over the next little while and details will be worked out soon. With any luck, publication of the Chronicle will not be interrupted. However, for those who are interested, Notes from Council is also published directly on the blog of my website, www.christophernorthcott.com, and I will continue to provide this write-up every month. Councillors Nelson, Logan and Lyckman also do a write-up for the community newsletter in Milo, Lomond and Carmangay respectively. We have also been doing Councillor Reports at one of our regular meetings every month and these reports can be found in the online agenda package.

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December 31, 2023, Notes from Council

Dear Residents & Ratepayers,

I hope everyone has had an enjoyable Christmas with family and friends. This has been a challenging year for many, and the close of a year is an opportunity to reflect and to prioritise what is important.

The Interim 2024 Operating Budget and Capital Plans were approved at the December 6th meeting of Council. Also at this meeting, a delegation from Alberta Health Services provided an update on operating plans for 2023/2024, as well as reforms that are being implemented to reduce emergency room wait times and improve ambulance response times in rural Alberta. Consideration was also provided on overall patient access, be it for surgery or other services.

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Notes from Council, November 30, 2023

Dear Residents & Ratepayers,

This has been a very busy month for County Council between two regular meetings, the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) Fall convention, as well as two days of budget committee meetings. A 2024 Interim Budget has been referred to County Council for approval, however, the actual tax implications will not be known until after the December 31st, 2023, taxable assessment has been received prior to budget finalization next Spring.

Council enjoyed a very good dialogue with local MLA Joseph Schow when he attended our November 1st meeting, virtually. Some of the conversations we had with him carried over to the meetings that were had with government ministers during the RMA Convention. There remains significant concern regarding the impact of drought conditions on coverage rates for crop insurance in future years. There remains significant concern over the impact of provincial quasi-judicial boards in providing large-scale development approvals (i.e. renewable energy installations, confined feeding operations, etc.). There also remains significant concern over the need, timing, and scope of upgrades to Highway 547 at the North end of Vulcan County.

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Notes from Council, October 27, 2023

Dear Residents & Ratepayers,

I hope any outstanding harvesting was concluded before the weather turned this week. For those looking to get out of the house, tickets are still available for the District-20 (Champion) Fire Association fundraiser on November 4th at the Champion Community Hall. While tickets are available at the front counter of the Vulcan County Office, they can be purchased around Champion and from most members of the fire association.

After my last Notes from Council was printed in the Champion Chronicle, I issued a correction in the online version (on my website) regarding the matter of council remuneration. The correction reads: “While the external review recommended a ten percent increase to council remuneration (which was approved in November 2022), the more recent internal review data has shown that Vulcan County remains at least fifteen percent behind the market rates (when compared to other municipalities). As such, Council has approved a one-time increase of fifteen percent, in addition to the ten percent that was approved last year, for inclusion in the 2024 budget.” Information regarding these changes can be found on my website, along with my expense reports, and I welcome your feedback on this issue.

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