By Kathy Bly
For the Sunny South News
Council approves new vehicle use policy
Picture Butte town council has approved a new vehicle use policy, which acknowledges the taxable benefit of driving a town owned vehicle.
At last Monday’s meeting CAO Larry Davidson said, according to the Canada Revenue Agency, employees who use a town vehicle for personal use have to consider it a taxable benefit. He noted the town also has to have a policy in place to cover the use of town-owned vehicles.
Tim Bochan, public works foreman for the town, briefly addressed council on the issue and referred to the letter he wrote to council noting use of a town vehicle was part of his employment agreement when he started working for the town six years ago.
Coun. Teresa Feist questioned if the CRA could bring up the issue of this taxable benefit. Davidson said the agency could audit the town and it would be reviewed, which could result in the town facing penalties back seven years.
Coun. Cathy Moore asked if the letter, signed by Bochan when he was hired, is on file with the town. Davidson said he has not located it and he noted council should be discussing the policy and not the letter.
In his letter, Bochan said when he reported for duty on April 1 of 2010 he was given the keys to a truck. He said he was told at that time that in exchange for being available to the town 24/7 he would have use of the vehicle.
After a new CAO was hired in 2012 the issue of vehicle use was brought up and he brought up the agreement he had with the town at the time he was hired. The issue was brought to council’s attention at that time but he was allowed to continue using the vehicle.
In his letter he noted in September of this year, Davidson told him he would no longer be able to use the town’s vehicle other than when he was scheduled to be on call and he would be taxed for its use.
In the letter, Bochan said he was also told by the CAO he would still be required to be available 24/7 whether he was driving a town vehicle or not and if he did not respond there would be repercussions.
In the conclusion of the letter, Bochan said he feels a deal was made between him and the town in good faith six years ago and he should be able to continue to use the town’s vehicle if he is required as part of his job to be available 24/7 to respond to calls.
Council approved the new vehicle use policy by a 5-0 vote. Davidson said he will be reviewing the policy with staff and will require them to sign off on it to indicate they have reviewed it.
Picture Butte moving community recycling site
Residents of Picture Butte and area who make use of the recycling bins and trailer now located near the downtown core, will soon be travelling to the transfer station to drop off their recycling.
At last Monday’s council meeting, Picture Butte council voted in favour of relocating the recycling drop off to the transfer site south of the community.
The Lethbridge Regional Waste Management Service Commission provides recycling services to the community. The bins, for the collecting of cardboard, and the trailer, for the collection of newspapers, glass, tin and plastics, are currently located on the south side of the town’s recreation complex.
Mayor Wendy Jones said the commission wants to move the recycling collection to the transfer site, where it can be managed by the transfer station contractor. Currently, the commission is required to secure the recycling site and keep it clean of debris and maintained with gravel, grading and snow removal.
The town had the option of keeping the current recycling site but would have to assume the responsibility for its operation including accepting liability, contacting the contractor when the bins are full and for maintenance of the area.
Mayor Jones raised a concern during the council discussion over the number of seniors and physically challenged residents who access the current recycling site by foot or using their scooters. Travelling to the transfer site would make it difficult for those without a vehicle. She questioned if the cost for the recycling services would be reduced if the recycling collection moves to the transfer station.
Coun. Cathy Moore spoke in favour of moving the recycling in part because of the wind impact on the current location with cardboard and other recyclables ending up in yards around the site.
“I think it’s an eyesore where it is now,” said Moore.
Davidson said relocating the recycling to the transfer site would mean establishing a new site for the recycling. He also noted the current contractor at the transfer site is wanting to expand the recycling program.
Davidson said most of the residents who make use of the recycling service already drive to the current site but he understands access could be an issue for some residents. He did note the new recycling site would be open longer hours than the transfer site hours, so it will be more accessible to residents outside of the regular transfer station hours of operation.
Coun. Teresa Feist said town council has previously discussed the liability issues associated with leaving the recycling drop off in its current location.
“The more we recycle the better it will be,” said Davidson. He noted recycling reduces garbage and also increases the potential for revenue generations from the recyclables.
Deputy Mayor Joe Watson said he has his doubts recycling would increase with a move to the transfer site. He has asked for the current site to be better policed and cleaned up more often. “We should be able to keep it looking better ourselves.”
“We’re not gaining a heck of a lot going down there,” said Watson, of the move.
It was also noted composting at the transfer site may be discontinued and it is a service residents like to use particularly for grass clippings. Davidson said composting and recycling are tied together. “My fear is we’re going to end up with more garbage,” said Mayor Jones.
In the end council voted 3-2 in favour of moving the recycling to the transfer site.
New Picture Butte subdivision moving ahead
The Town of Picture Butte is moving closer to selling lots in its newest residential subdivision.
Sunset Park, developed on the west edge of the community, is on the verge of lot sales with approval last Monday evening of the architectural controls for the subdivision. Town council approved the controls, which cover everything from type of homes allowed to the landscaping requirements.
Forum facility refund
Town council has agreed to provide the Picture Butte and District Chamber of Commerce with free use of the Community/Seniors Centre for the recent federal election forum. The town waived the $162.75 rental fee for the forum, held Sept. 23.
Picture Butte council has approved the appointment of Kathy Bly to another three-year term with the Picture Butte Municipal Library Board. According to the Libraries Act, town council has to approve any public member appointments to the library board. Council representatives for both Picture Butte and Lethbridge County also sit on the board and are appointed during each council’s annual October organizational meetings.
CAO performance review
In her Mayor’s report to town council, Mayor Wendy Jones provided each member of council with a packet to review ahead of the scheduled performance review for CAO Larry Davidson. Jones said she is giving council members a couple of weeks to review the information and prepare their input prior to the review, to be completed before the end of October.
During the council report portion of last Monday’s meeting, Coun. Teresa Feist questioned how the response has been to the town’s recent municipal survey. Davidson noted the response has been good and he is preparing to provide council with a report of the results at a future meeting.
In her report to council, Coun. Cathy Moore noted the Picture Butte Transportation Society is in desperate need of drivers particularly during the day. She said the society has recently lost three members to retirement and needs more volunteers to join the society.
Picture Butte town council and administration will soon begin 2016 budget deliberations. At last Monday’s council meeting, Davidson noted council will be meeting Oct. 19 and Nov. 16 for their regular meetings of the whole council with the budget on the agenda.
The Town of Picture Butte will host an Open House on Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Community/Seniors Centre. The evening is for local residents and anyone who may be interested in the Sunset Park residential subdivision and the town’s plans for Land-Use Bylaw revisions. Town council and administration staff will be on hand to answer questions.