By Marcia Love
Council approved its 2015 budget at its regular meeting on April 14, as well as establishing its mill rate.
The mill rate remains the same as last year at 26 mills, with mill rate factors also remaining the same for all property categories – 1.1 for commercial, 0.2 for residential and 1.0 for agricultural. The base tax is still $1,050.
The special tax of $250 per property remains in effect to help fund the town’s $3-million commitment to the new health care facility. This is the sixth year of the hospital levy, which will remain in place until 2019.
In the 2015 budget, expenditures are $5,206,765 with a revenue of $5,257,057 and $1,005,100 transfered from reserves for an operating surplus of $1,055,392. Long-term debt repayment for the town totals $621,646.10, comprised of the Murraydale subdivision, new hospital and new garbage truck.
Just over $1 million from last year’s budget was used as prepayment for the new lift station constructed on the west side of town.
The town will discuss its financial report in more detail at the public meeting on April 27 at 7 p.m. at the Armoury. During this meeting, it will also address long-term borrowing, water, sewer and waste collection fees, landfill tipping fees, the new garbage truck, bins and pick-up route, and the recycling program.
A new manhole installed on the west side of town for the new lift station and sewer main comes at a total cost of $17,500. Another four new manholes installed on the north side of town several weeks ago cost a total of $55,000.
Also during the meeting, council agreed to make a $2,500 donation to Maple Creek Composite School to sponsor the Saskatchewan Student Leadership Conference which the school will be hosting next year. The town also waived the fee for MCCS to use the arena for the major event.
With the increased usage the airport has been getting as the Maple Creek Flying Club offers flying lessons through Super T Aviation Academy of Medicine Hat, a pest problem has been noted.
“This flying school has really drummed up interest for the airport, which is really, really great,” said town administrator Michele Schmidt.
However, because the airport has become a busier place, more people have noticed the high number of gophers around the property. To address the problem, both Tim and Mark Udal have been granted permission to discharge a firearm on airport property for the purpose of pest control.
Councillor Tina Cresswell reported the Heritage Advisory Committee has lost its funding through the Small Business Loans Association program. The program was cut from the provincial budget, which impacts the Heritage Advisory Committee as well as the Main Street Program. Locally, it also affects both the Thundering Hills Loans Co-operative Ltd. and Maple Creek Heritage Small Business Loans Association Inc.
Maple Creek Main Street Program co-ordinator and community development officer Royce Pettyjohn has drafted a letter to send to Finance Minister Ken Krawetz to voice concerns.
“I was very impressed with the letter, and I think that Thundering Hills is also going to send a letter much to the same ilk talking about how the Small Business Loans Association supports the community and helps communities move forward and helps the rural revitalization program,” she stated. “We all hope that something else will replace this program.”
The mayor and several councillors attended an Emergency Measures Organization meeting on April 1, with about 20 people present. EMO co-ordinator Christine Hoffman shared the plans she has been developing to update the town’s emergency response plan. She discussed vulnerability and risk assessment.
“She’s going to go through and find out what the major risk is to our community and then she’s going to bring it to council,” explained Councillor Michele McKenzie. “She’s putting a lot of work into this and she’s doing a good job.”
Hoffman will also look into developing a website to post the plan and alerts online. The group will meet again next month, with the intent of having the EMO plan updated by June.
Councillor Ellaine Hawrylak reported on the most recent Communities in Bloom Committee meeting. Town Clean-Up Week will run April 19-26, and individuals, groups and businesses are being asked to pitch in and help pick up garbage in public areas around town. The week will wrap up with a pizza party at the Glascock Building on April 26 at 5 p.m. Participants are asked to register by calling the Visitor’s Centre at 306-662-4005.
For the CiB spring lecture, a worm composting workshop will be held on May 19.
Changes being made to the town’s traffic bylaw are being tabled until its next meeting as additional issues are addressed. After initial concerns were raised by residents of a block in town where a bus is parked and idled on the street, more issues were brought up regarding school buses parked on streets in town.
“I don’t believe the school buses should be parked on the street through the day or overnight unless they’re loading or unloading,” said Mayor Barry Rudd, noting the school has a compound for its buses. “People complain because they can’t see when they’re backing out of their driveway when the school bus is there every day.”
Council will further discuss the best way to address these concerns through the traffic bylaw.
As the town switches from a Disk Operating System to a Windows-based cemetery program, staff will be receiving training in the new system. As a result, the town office will be closed on April 22 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.