The greatest topic of discussion at the town council meeting Feb. 11 was the announcement that bridge funding for the SARCAN paper recycling program will no longer be provided by the government.
Funding will no longer be available as of March 31. The town has received bridge funding for its recycling program to the tune of between $24,000 and $33,000 per year.
“It’s going to cost us another $25,000 to $30,000 per year to recycle,” said Councillor Justin McFarlane.
Council spoke about the fairness to taxpayers to raise recycling rates or whether to absorb the cost for the year. Fees for recycling were just raised at the beginning of January. Council also debated over the purchase of an incinerator or stopping the recycling program temporarily.
“I say shut it down. We can’t afford to operate it,” said Mayor Barry Rudd. “We may need to stockpile it.”
Two jobs at the recycling facility would be lost in a possible closure. Council resolved to send a letter to the government. “We as a council are not pleased,” said Rudd. “The end user is paying for it.”
It was estimated that recycling is costing the town about $70,000 per year.
“People are tired of paying, that’s the thing. The cost of living went up,” noted the mayor. “Nothing else goes with it though – the pensions aren’t going up, the wages aren’t going up. I think if anything we’ve got to absorb it for the interim in our budget.”
Plans to designate Maple Creek Composite School as an emergency evacuation centre were also discussed during the meeting.
Councillors reviewed the December 2013 bank records, which found the town’s bank account at $1.6 million, with $227,000 in reserve and about $30,000 put aside for work to be done at the cemetery. “That should leave them enough in case we run into any things or projects that they wish to work on at the cemetery this year,” said administrator Michele Schmidt.
Auditors from Stark and Marsh will be at the municipal office on Feb. 19 to complete the town’s annual audit.
Councillors also previewed the January financial statements during the meeting.
“Basically we’ve got small revenue, not a lot of revenue. We brought in $49,312.93, so a quiet month because of the fact that we didn’t have any more bills to go out. It went out at the end of December,” said Schmidt.
The bulk of the expenses for the month are salaries and utility bills. The total expenses for January were $268,272.
A copy of the building permits submitted for 2013 was passed to council members for review. The town received 28 permits which totaled $5.1 million.
The town has received a certificate of substantial completion with regards to the HVAC system at the Armoury. There is a one-year warranty for the HVAC system.
Councillor Barry Elderkin reported on his attendance of the annual SUMA convention.
He detailed a presentation by mayor of Swift Current Jarrod Schafer which noted the partnerships the city has made with other Western Canada municipalities. Elderkin also noted the need for the town to become more pro-active with privacy after he attended a session at SUMA about privacy legislation.
After meeting with the cemetery improvement committee, Elderkin reported that town officials are trying to examine damaged plots at the cemetery. There are 22 problem sites which have safety concerns. Calls have been made to next of kin in regards to maintenance. As a last resort, the town might place advertisements in the newspaper or post notices on its website or other social media.
“We’ve been able to get into contact with six families that we know either lived close or we know had some connection,” said Elderkin.
A new fire hall committee is being established. Local fire chiefs, along with councillors Elderkin and Kevin Harrigan will be members of the committee.
The fire department will be purchasing a cargo shipping container in order to complete training exercises. The 40-foot container will cost approximately $3,900 and will be delivered from Brooks, Alta. It will be located near a fire hydrant in the industrial park.