Blackfalds amends budget, finalizes tax rate bylaw and other notes from council

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Blackfalds town council made a few changes to the 2018 budget on Tuesday.

Amendments were made in order to reflect finalized assessment numbers received in February, as well as accommodate for the Alberta school requisition and seniors’ foundation requisition.

When the budget was approved in December 2017, the town estimated $211,000 worth of property taxes due to new assessment, which has now risen to $321,000 of taxes from new assessment. School requisition saw an increase of 1.5 per cent, while the Lacombe Foundation saw a slight 1.01 per cent increase in requisition.

“We’re staying pretty steady. It’s not like the growth we had in past years. It has leveled out a bit,” said Director of Corporate Services Betty Quinlan. “Inflation with residential was virtually flat, and was mostly in the areas of non-residential due to increases in land value.”

Other changes to the budget include the addition of $58,700 for Protective Services to offset the cost of the new Manager of Emergency and Protective Services position created this year, and a $100,000 increase in transfers to reserve.

The total budget is now $33,848,249 this year, with a $26,805,749 operating budget and $7,042,500 capital budget.

The 2018 Tax Rate Bylaw was also finalized, with the 1.1 per cent tax rate approved in December to remain the same.

The mill rate increased by 0.3396, meaning residential properties will have a 7.6448 mill rate, and non-residential will have a 9.4248 mill rate for the year.

For the average taxpayer in Blackfalds, it will mean about a $24 increase in property taxes, or $8 per $100,000 of assessed value.

A total of $10.4 million will be collected by the town in municipal taxes, with an additional $3.5 million for school requisition and $83,855 for the Lacombe Foundation.

RCMP Quarterly Report

Crime in Blackfalds is seeing a downward trend, according to the latest quarterly report from the Blackfalds RCMP.

Between 2016 and 2017, there has been an overall decrease in crime by 11 per cent, said acting Staff Sgt. Whitney Benoit.

“There’s a positive on a number of decreases we’ve seen over the last two years. When we look at the last five years, obviously there was a significant increase, but over the last year it’s looking good,” she said.

Persons crimes dropped three per cent over the last year, however increased 44 per cent over the last five years.

Property crimes, meanwhile, decreased 13 per cent between 2016 and 2017. Other criminal code areas decreased seven per cent and spousal abuse decreased by four percent.

With the RCMP’s targeted focus on crime reduction and targeting repeat offenders, they’ve also established what they’re calling a Call Back Unit at detachments province-wide. Blackfalds established theirs as of the beginning of April.

The Call Back unit is designed to address “priority four” calls – those that wouldn’t necessarily require a police officer to attend the scene. Priority one are the most important calls.

“They’ve designed a unit that will basically take those calls and be able to deal with them so the members on the road won’t have to spend time either attending or dealing with (incidents) that might not need police attendance,” said Benoit. “It includes situations where there is no risk to the public or where investigation is not time sensitive.”

Canada 150 Mosaic

The Blackfalds Community Centre won’t be home to the town’s Canada 150 Mosaic mural.

While the hallway within the newly renovated facility was originally pegged as the location for the community art project, the Recreation, Culture and Parks Board decided there wasn’t enough room for people to really appreciate the work that will go into creating it.

Instead, the mural will be located outside the Wadey Centre in All Star Park.

“Outside allows you to stand further back and see the whole mural as its meant to be seen,” said Coun. Ray Olfert. “If you stand too close, all you’ll see is the individual tiles.”

There was some concern, however, over the mural being moved outdoors and being subjected to the elements.

Coun. Will Taylor said he preferred to see it stay indoors.

“My first feeling on this, is we want to protect it. These are elaborate pieces of art,” he said. “With the weather, it’ll become something less rather than last a long time.”

There is potential for the mural to be moved, and have the Wadey Centre as a location just for the immediate future. However, other steps will likely be taken to keep it protected, including making sure the mural faces north to avoid sunlight washing out the colours, applying protective sprays or adding a plexi-glass covering.

Design details, meanwhile, are still being worked out. Three different design suggestions have been put forward, including a parent reading to a child, parks and recreational facilities, and black sheep, to commemorate how Blackfalds was named after the black “faulds” of sheep in a CP engineer’s home area in Scotland.

The community will have opportunity to have their say on what the mural design will look like in the next couple of months via social media.

Pine Crescent Rink contract awarded

A new outdoor rink is now on its way to becoming a reality for the Town of Blackfalds.

Council awarded Shunda Construction out of Red Deer the contract for the project to the tune of $384,847.26, which comes in under the $450,000 originally budgeted for the project by council.

Shunda Construction has prior experience working on town facilities, including the RCMP station and the Blackfalds Community Centre. The rink project will include installing appropriate lighting for the rink, as well as taking measures to ensure it will last for at least the next 25 years.

“We’re not building it with wood as other municipalities do,” said Sean Barnes, director of community services. “It’s going to be crystal plex boards and steel framing so we should have life expectancy of 20-25 years.”

Construction for the project is expected to start at the end of May and be done for the summer.

The old skatepark equipment will also be moved nearby, creating a recreational hub for those who live on the east side of Hwy 2A.

Proclamations

Town council made the unanimous decision to proclaim a National Day of Mourning on April 28, 2018 at the request of the Workers Compensation Board (WCB).

The day is aimed at honouring workers who have been killed, injured or been disable while at work. According to WCB, 166 people in Alberta were lost in 2017 alone to workplace injury or illness.

June 2, 2018 was also proclaimed National Health and Fitness Day. Traditionally, the day has coincided with the Blackfalds Fun Run.

The next council meeting will be held on Tuesday April 24 at 7 p.m. in council chambers. 

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