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Election reform in Picture Butte?

Posted on December 6, 2016 by Sunny South News

By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News

Fortis LED lights conversion
Fortis wants to transition and convert to LED lights in the Town of Picture Butte, as council and staff agree, it’s a good move for the Lethbridge County community.
“Basically, Fortis wants to switch over to LED lights at no charge to us? Hopefully, one day down the line, there might even be a reduction,” asked Coun. Joe Watson, during a council meeting held Nov. 28.
“Correct,” said town Acting CAO and Director of Operations Keith Davis.
Mayor Wendy Jones said the move becomes a win-win situation for the town and for Fortis.
Davis said if council is on board with the conversion offer, council can pass a motion to send off a sign-up letter.
“We’ll be on the list of municipalities that are going to be going ahead with this program. Fortis is trying to get it all done by 2018. To get all the municipalities in Alberta switched over. We just go onto the list,” Davis noted.
Davis said there is a rate multiplier to be included in utility bills, which is at about 23 per cent.
“That’s going to pay for the actual LED lights and installing them. Once they are all installed, then the program is done, that multiplier will be taken off those bills. Then you get a cheaper transmission rate and cheaper energy rate and the multiplier is taken away. It’s pretty much paying for their capital expense of buying the LEDs and putting them in,” he explained.
Deputy Mayor Cathy Moore made the motion to accept the Fortis LED conversion offer, as council passed the motion.
Local election reform discussed
Mayor Jones noted to council at a meeting held Nov. 28 she had something on her mind she has been thinking about and wanted to share with council.
“The Town of Picture Butte elects all their councillors and we have an elected mayor. A lot of municipalities our size, or even a little bit bigger, do not do that. They elect their whole council and then council elects the mayor,” she explained.
“It’s not a four-year term for a mayor.”
Part of Jones’ reasoning for wanting council to perhaps consider changing the way mayors are elected in town is when someone is running for mayor, nine times out of 10, it’s the group of councillors you are running against.
“Which eliminates a person when you have an election that would have been there with their heart in it and they really wanted to be on council but they’re out totally,” she said.
Whereas, Jones continued, this way — if a person’s heart is in it and they really want to be on council and get elected, they would be guaranteed a spot on council and the person could also run for mayor if they wanted.
“In the Municipal Government Act (MGA), it’s kind of opposite the way a city and town works. Usually, a city or town will have an election for a mayor and separate for council. But, if you want to change it so council elects the mayor, then you need to pass a bylaw stating that,” said the town’s Acting CAO Keith Davis, which would be included in a procedural bylaw being considered by council. The procedural bylaw passed first reading Nov. 28.
With villages, Davis added, it’s the other way around.
“They have mandated by the MGA, they have to elect their mayor or chief elected official amongst council. Unless they pass a bylaw the whole community is going to do it,” he said.
Coun. Henry deKok said since council has until April to decide, perhaps this notion could be something to bring up at the town’s upcoming January Open House.
“To get people’s feedback,” said deKok.
Councillors agreed it wasn’t a bad idea to look at the possibility of councillors electing a mayor and council wondered if it would make sense to pass first reading and leave it for public consultation in January.
First reading was completed and Jones said the issue can be held off and can be discussed at a committee meeting and can be featured as an item at the next open house in the New Year.
After the open house, council can look at passing second and third reading if council wants to go that route, according to Davis.
Cenotaph could receive power in the future
A letter was received by council with the request for the town to consider putting in power at the town’s Cenotaph.
According to the letter submitted to council for consideration at a meeting held Nov. 28, the letter requested for the town to consider running power to hook up a PA system for Remembrance Day ceremonies and perhaps a permanent light fixture be installed.
Currently, a power cord running from an adjacent building is used, which is unsafe.
Council passed the motion for administration to look into it and consider this request at budget time.

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