Big Valley grants MOST funds to groups, replaces flooring

·3 min read

Big Valley village council decided to use grant money from the provincial government earmarked for COVID-19 relief to support non-profit groups, replace flooring, purchase computer help and cover unpaid taxes. The decisions were made at the March 25 regular meeting of council.

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Tracy Mindus presented councillors with more information on the provincial government’s Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) program, provided to municipalities to help cover expenses and lost revenue due to the pandemic. Mindus noted councillors held a special council meeting March 16 to discuss the roughly $40,000 Big Valley was entitled to and brought more information regarding a back-up computer server system.

Mindus reported a Datto system was priced at $4,191.60 plus an annual fee from CasTech. A “local” option, which would include hardware installed at the village office, was priced at $4,252.50 plus an annual fee of $2,730.

Mayor Clark German stated the village currently has no back-up for its computer system and needs one. He stated the village is lucky it’s had no serious problems yet. German stated he was in favour of the Datto system.

Coun. Harry Nibourg felt the provincial government should provide this service through a cloud-based system for all municipalities instead of every municipality doing it themselves.

Coun. Art Tizzard asked, if the old system crashes, how long would it take the village to get up and running. The CAO answered with the Datto system the village can be up and running again very quickly, while with a local system failure it could take weeks or months to recover.

Councillors unanimously approved going with the Datto system.

Non-profit groups

Mindus also updated the list of groups council has approved for MOST funds, as she noted the curling club, Friends of Big Valley School and Bust Out Rodeo requested help too.

Mayor German stated he had a resident voice concerns to him about criteria for awarding MOST funds to groups, as groups with large fixed costs, such as a facility, are much more in need of help than groups who don’t have these costs. German stated that made sense to him.

Coun. Nibourg agreed, but added he was curious how much money some groups have in the bank. Mayor German noted that some groups who have facilities may build reserves to help with major expenses and replacements in the future.

Councillors agreed to provide $500 of MOST funding to the friends of the school and rodeo, while granting $1,000 to the curling club.

A number of groups had been previously funded too.

New flooring

Councillors discussed replacing old carpet in the village office, including in the washroom. The estimate was provided of $9,449.32, which included hardwood floor.

Mayor German stated, especially with the pandemic, he understood the sanitary aspect of a hard floor as opposed to carpet. At the same time German stated he saw the balance of the flooring as being in good shape and there was great demand for MOST money. Mindus noted some flooring in the reception area also needed to be changed.

Nibourg stated if the flooring needed to be changed, now is the time because the village could use the MOST funds with no impact on the local budget. Tizzard agreed, noting lumber is getting more expensive. Councillors approved the estimate by a 2 to 1 vote to be paid out of MOST funds.

It was noted the remaining MOST funds, less than $10,000, would go into an unpaid taxes fund, apparently to cover those who could not pay their taxes due to the pandemic.

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review