County balks at credit cards for tax payments

Ambulance mix-ups discussed by county council Nov. 8

By Stu Salkeld The Stettler Independent

County of Stettler council discussed a myriad of issues during their regular meeting Nov. 8, from credit cards to ambulance mix-ups. All councilors were present for the meeting.

Credit cards

Councilor Dave Grover asked that the issue of credit card use for paying taxes be discussed at the meeting. Currently, the County of Stettler doesn’t accept credit cards for tax payments.

“Councilor Grover requested that the following Council Resolution be brought back for consideration as ratepayers have expressed concern of hardship and inconvenience by not being able to use their credit cards to pay their property taxes,” noted the agenda item. “In past years fees for using credit cards for payment of property taxes have cost the County in excess of $50,000 per annum.”

Councilor Ernie Gendre noted that the county uses credit cards, why doesn’t the county accept them?

Councilor James Nibourg fees associated with accepting credit card use are too expensive for the municipality, and the county accepts debit, cash and cheque.

Councilor Les Stulberg said he felt saving the taxpayer’s money on such fees was the smart move.

Gendre said he has heard some complaints about the policy. CAO Tim Fox stated, to his knowledge, there have been roughly six people unhappy with the situation. Councilors decided to leave the credit card policy as-is.

Ambulance issues

Councilor Nibourg requested that council discuss ambulance issues in his division. The councilor stated he’d been told of four situations in his division where an ambulance arrived at the wrong address such as a neighboring yard rather than the address where the emergency was located.

He stated the neighbour then had to direct the ambulance on to where the emergency was located.

Nibourg said he was requesting the ambulance service send a representative to speak to council about the issues. “I would just like to get the ambulance to tell councilors what the situation is and where we stand on it,” said Nibourg.

Councilor Gendre asked whether improper signage was involved.

Nibourg said it was not clear how the mistakes occurred and he would like to find out more.

Councilor Wayne Nixon stated he felt ambulance representatives should have a chance to explain this before any more discussion occurred. Council agreed to invite the ambulance representatives to speak to council.

Health Foundation

Councilors discussed how to support a request from the Stettler Health Foundation from the previous council meeting. Councilor Nibourg noted council previously granted $500 or bought a table at the upcoming gala.

Councilors eventually decided they would book a table for eight with funds from the Rural Development Fund.

Time for retreat

Councilors discussed a retreat, which is usually a weekend set aside for councilors to take courses or discuss issues outside of the municipal office. Councilor Stulberg said he supports retreats as they improve cooperation and efficiency between councilors and the municipal election is now over. “I think this is the perfect timing,” said Stulberg.

Nixon noted that hiring people like consultants isn’t cheap, and that if a retreat is planned, it should include as much as possible.

Councilor Cheri Neitz stated she liked the idea of a retreat, but to save money it should be held as close to Stettler as possible. Councilor Dave Grover agreed.

Nixon added that strategic planning could also be included in a retreat.

Private deliberations

A delegation listed on the agenda as Jordan Lee pertaining to Erskine storm water management was handled in-camera, or in a private session, by council.

The agenda package included a message from Lee regarding his appearance.

“My name is Jordan Lee and Jacinta told me to give you a quick little blurb about what I wish to discuss with Council on November 8. My issue has to deal with the storm water management for Erskine and if it is my responsibility to provide such infrastructure or is it the County’s. If you could let me know what time I will be scheduled for I would appreciate it.”

Ag society lease

Councilors read a memo from county staff noting an arena lease had expired and was ready for renewal by resolution under the following terms: “That the County of Stettler No. 6 Council Authorize Administration to enter into a Lease Agreement between the Sullivan Lake West Ag Society and the County of Stettler No. 6 for the lease of the lands located at Block R, Plan 4684 CL.

“It was noted the society previously had a 20-year lease that expired this year. “The current agreement expired on October 6, 2017 and was requested for renewal by the SLW Ag Society. The former agreement was set out in Bylaw 486 – but legal advice now indicates that a council resolution will suffice.” It was approved by council.

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