Council votes to increase water, sewer and waste pickup rates

User rates for water, sewer and collection of solid waste will rise slightly in the Town of Stettler while a two percent increase of property taxes has been proposed for next year.

Starting on Jan. 1, 2011, rates for in-town water consumption will rise by 24 cents per cubic meter to $2.01, sewer rates will increase by $1 to $15 per month while residential solid waste pick-up will rise by $1.50 to $17 per month.

At its regular meeting Dec. 21, town council passed three bylaws to raise the utility rates while adopting the 2010 final operating budget of $13,862.130 as the interim operating budget for 2011 until a final budget is adopted in spring.

“I believe the interim budget is very responsible,” said Mayor Dick Richards.

“It reflects our understanding that we are still in the middle of trying economic times.”

He is confident that with this modest increase in taxation, the town will still be able to offer and maintain a level of service that residents have grown to expect.

“The slight increase in utility rates reflects the massive investment the town has put into the water treatment plant and the expansion of the sewage lagoon,” he added.

“We are proud to live in a community our size and have the ability to utilize some of the many wonderful resources we have and enjoy a level of taxation that remains at a level that is below the provincial level for communities our size.”

Administration said they worked hard to minimize the tax impacts.

“Council and administration consider the property tax and utility rate increase necessary, given the present and future obligations required in our community,” said Greg Switenky, assistant chief administrative officer.

“The 2010-2013 interim operating budget enables council to sustain the current high level of public services, facilities and utilities for all Stettler residents as well as continue to renew aging capital infrastructure and equipment on an affordability basis.”

A few expenditure items in the budget such as bylaw enforcement and the playground program will require more information and further review by council before the tax operating budget is prepared next year.

“The three-year forecast reflects council’s intent to be fiscally responsible and accountable to its residents,” Switenky added.

More funding to recruit physicians

Council discussed a possible increase to its support for physician recruitment to $22,500 for each candidate physician in partnership with the County of Stettler.

Two more physicians are expected to arrive in the spring and start in July, said Councillor Leona Thorogood, who represents the town on Stettler Regional Board of Trade and Economic Development which leads physician recruitment.

“Ideally, we would like to have 12 to 14 doctors but we’re still well short of that.”

New dishwasher for hall

A new dishwasher for Stettler Community Hall has been ordered after council approved a staff recommendation to purchase a dishwasher for $7,080 from Geanel Restaurant Supplies Ltd. Of Calgary, the lowest of three tenders, plus $500 to install and to use the $10,040 hall reserve funds to cover this cost.

“The dishwasher in the hall is about 35 years old and is not energy-efficient,” said Lee Penner, director of parks and leisure services.

“Local electricians and restaurant maintenance companies have suggested it is time for a new one.”

Many users have expressed that the current dishwasher does not clean satisfactorily, he noted.