Town of Council will have to deal with significant financial challenges this year with Provincial Government cuts to revenue sharing and grant-in-lieu of taxes. While Council was expecting a drop in revenue sharing, we were not expecting to lose the grants-in-lieu of taxes. This fiscal year the Town will lose $4,407.00 from a drop in Provincial Revenue Sharing, and $26,868.00 in grant-in-lieu of taxes. The combined loss of Provincial Funding this year received by the town will be $31,275.00.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of the Enviroment (MOE) informed Council a decision regarding how waste is disposed of at the landfill. The current method of digging trenches is no longer allowed. Council had to make a choice between constructing future engineered trenches or a transfer station to handle waste disposal at the landfill. The most cost effective decision for the Town will be to construct a transfer station. Council hoped to extend the life of the present trench to allow a reasonable timeframe to raise the funds needed to make the change. A request was made to the MOE to allow the town to finish filling the current trench before making the move to a transfer station. The request was denied, and Council will have to transition to a transfer station next year. Based on conversations we have had with similar-sized communities as ours the costs to transition will be in the neighborhood of $130,000.00.
The cuts in Provincial Funding, transitioning required at the Landfill and the Clarendon Hotel Cleanup will make the 2017 budget a significant challenge. Council will be finalizing our Strategic Plan and 2017 budget in the near future. All options will be fully explored as to how we will deal with the significant financial challenges facing our community. We will update residents with more information as it becomes available.
October 9th, 2016 will be a day that the residents of Gull Lake and surrounding communities will never forget. A senseless act of arson destroyed a landmark building in our town and impacted our entire community both emotionally and financially. The following information is the steps that Town Council took to deal with problems the community faced after the fire.
On November 2, 2016 Clarendon Hotel owner Roger Bouvier was invited to the council meeting to discuss his plans for the hotel property and a timeline for the cleanup of the lot. Mr. Bouvier told Council that he had insurance to cover the firefighting costs but only had enough insurance for a partial cleanup. He made it very clear that he did not have the funds to initiate a cleanup of the property.
On November 9, 2016 I called a Special Meeting of Council to discuss issuing an Order to Remedy the state of the property. Council felt the order was required to compel Mr. Bouvier to take the necessary steps to initiate the cleanup of the property. The order was passed and was served to Mr. Bouvier on November 15, 2016.
On November 23, 2016 council meeting, a motion was made declaring the property dangerous to the public safety and authorized a fence to be erected around the property.
Upon expiry of the Order to Remedy and after receiving no communication from Mr. Bouvier Council authorized a clean up the property at the December 28, 2016 meeting. A tender to clean up the property was issued on January 5, 2017.
On the regular meeting of March 8th the Council received and reviewed 3 bids submitted by companies in response to the tender. As part of the tendering process Council must ensure that all bids meet the requirements of the tender. The tender called for the complete removal of all debris to be removed from the site. Unfortunately, one bid had to be rejected as it allowed for 30 loads of debris to be removed from the site after which hourly charges would apply. The remaining two bids complied with the terms of the tender, and the successful bid was Knudsen Excavating Ltd for $107,671.00. The Knudsen bid was $37,359.00 lower than the remaining bid.
It should be noted that the owner’s insurance did cover all the firefighting expenses. All unpaid costs of the clean up shall be a debt owed to the Town of Gull Lake and on failure to pay the debt, the costs shall be added to the taxes on the property.
This year Town Council is working on the creation of a strategic plan to plan for the future needs of our community. One of the most important needs identified in the “Community Needs Assessment” was for Council to focus on economic development. While we need to look for ways to draw new businesses to town, we also need to concentrate on business retention, and expansion requirements of existing businesses.
Myself, Councilors Lavoie, and Haithwaite will be attending a Planning 101 Workshop in Swift Current this Wednesday. The workshop is designed to provide participants with information necessary to facilitate growth and development. I will also be attending a preconference workshop in Saskatoon on May 2nd, 2017 “21st Century Business Retention and Expansion” where I will learn the process of de-signing a Business Retention and Expansion approach to suit the needs of local business in our community. The Saskatchewan Economic Development Association “Creating Intersections for Growth Conference” follows May 3rd and 4th, 2017.
Council will use the information gained through these educational opportunities to plan for the future economic development needs of our community.