By Kathy Bly
For the Sunny South News
Picture Butte to increase franchise fee
Picture Butte’s town council has voted in favour of increasing the Fortis franchise fee collected by the utility company from town residents and businesses.
Under the franchise agreement, the town can adopt an annual rate that is capped at 20 per cent. The town was at eight per cent, generating just over $84,000 in revenue, before voting in favour of a two per cent increase at the Oct. 13 council meeting. The increase to 10 per cent will generate approximately $105,000 in revenue for the town, an increase of just over $21,000.
“It’s an opportunity for us to generate a little bit more revenue without dipping into the mill rate,” said Larry Davidson, chief administrative officer (CAO).
He noted the increase would equal about half a mill if the town tried to generate that same level of revenue via a mill rate increase.
He added organizations such as Alberta Health Services and schools do not pay municipal taxes but they are the biggest utility users in the town.
By increasing the franchise fee, these users would be paying more toward this revenue generation. It has been several years since the town increased its Fortis franchise fee. In his report to council, Davidson noted the Town of Coaldale currently has their fee set at 11 per cent, while Coalhurst is at 5 per cent and Nobleford is at zero.
Emergency services policy
Town council has tabled a motion to approve the policies and procedures for the Picture Butte and District Emergency Services.
A draft of the new policies and procedures has been in the work for several months. Davidson brought the item to the Oct. 13 council meeting seeking approval from council but council has asked for it to be taken back to the fire chief for review.
Under the proposed policy, only a couple of people would be eligible to be considered for the role of fire chief and council would like to see that opportunity opened up to more individuals. “Council just wants a wider nomination process,” said Davidson, adding council also wants all members of the local firefighters’ association to have a chance to review the proposed policies and procedures.
“We want the policies to reflect the views of the majority of the membership,” said Davidson.
New Land-Use Bylaw
Picture Butte town council has given first reading to a new land-use bylaw. The new bylaw has been in the works for several weeks and was finalized in late September. Before it can be approved by council it has to go to a public hearing to give local residents a chance to review and question the contents of the bylaw.
To that end the town will host a public hearing to review the bylaw on Nov. 9 in council chambers at 6:30 p.m. A copy of the proposed bylaw is available through the town office. Anyone who wants to make a presentation regarding the proposed bylaw should notify the town in writing by Nov. 5.