Council worried about Handibus future

  • Feb. 23, 2011 11:00 a.m.

By JULIE BERTRAND

Independent Reporter

It may be performing a vital service, but Town of Stettler has a problem with the Stettler and District Handibus Society: There is a deficit $63,144 for the year 2010.

Town council discussed at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 15, a letter from the Handibus Society which contained a request for more funding this year.

While the number of passengers went down from 9,949 to 8,022, the operating fees increased.

“That bus service cannot last very long if they continue to do that,” said Councillor Thorogood.

“I think when we looked at our operating budget, I expressed a concern about the Handibus Society and their expenditures.”

The society gets its revenue from the town, the county, the casino and the customers’ fees.

Raising the customers’ fees is not seen as an option as some of the people using the bus are on a fixed income.

Council will see if the society is accessing all the funding that it could get from various levels of governments and organizations.

The Stettler and District Handibus Society carries over 40 passengers daily.

The bus runs both scheduled pickups and called in pickups. It costs four dollars per bus ride.

In another funding decision, council approved a recommendation to fund in full the requested amount of $178,152.65 to the Stettler Public Library Board for their 2011 operations.

New business section on town website

The Town of Stettler will soon have a new section on its website.

BizPal is a new and free online service that the Alberta government is funding for municipalities.

It will help prospective business clients find more info about the town and county’s permits and license requirements for starting new businesses.

According to Bizpal’s letter, the clients will first answer questions about their proposed business. Then, the website will give them a summarized report of what permits the clients will need and how to get them, making it quicker and less complicated to get started.

“It’s a one-stop shopping tool,” said Greg Switenky, assistant town CAO.

“BizPal basically will do all the work for us. ”

BizPal coordinators will take care of installation and set up on the Town website.

They will also research all of the town’s bylaws and permit processes so that the web service is designed for the town’s specific permitting and licensing process.

They will also maintain the program as changes are made to Stettler’s website, fees or bylaws.

Increase in taxes receivable

As of Dec. 31, 2010, Town of Stettler was owed $ 175,960.67 in outstanding property taxes.

This represents 3,04 per cent of the 2010 total tax levy.

This is marked increase for past years. In 2008, the town was owed 1,44 per cent.

“We’re not really concerned on the 3,4 per cent being higher than the previous years,” said assistant CAO Greg Switenky.

“The numbers are really small if you look at delinquent properties that we’re working on. There are a couple of $6,000 or $7,000 items that can really skew things.”

Residents who do not pay their property taxes can pay up to 12 per cent interest after 12 months.