Stettler town council balks at County of Stettler holding landfill property ‘in trust’
Stettler town council seemed to grudgingly approve a deal to acquire land for the regional waste authority and allow another municipality to hold the land in trust until it’s needed. The decision was made at the March 7 regular meeting of council.
Town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Greg Switenky stated that the Stettler Waste Management Authority (SWMA), comprised of a number of member municipalities that operate the landfill system among other services, forwarded a request that two resolutions be passed by town council: approval of the offer to purchase and approval of a trust agreement with the County of Stettler.
County of Stettler Director of Municipal Services Andrew Brysiuk stated in an email to town council the trust agreement is necessary because of SWMA’s nature.
“Our lawyer is recommending that the managing partner hold the land in trust since the waste authority cannot hold land of its own as a result of not being incorporated or a society,” stated Brysiuk’s email dated March 6.
“We are looking to pass these resolutions as soon as possible to satisfy the conditions of the offer to purchase.”
Switenky explained at a previous council meeting SWMA got a chance to buy land close to the existing landfill that would be ideal for future landfill expansion so decided to pull the trigger even though it’s expected the current landfill has decades of life left in it.
During discussion Switenky explained the land title will eventually show all members of SWMA as owners.
Coun. Cheryl Barros noted several times she didn’t understand why the trust was necessary. Barros stated she would like an explanation why SWMA cannot own the property in question. The CAO suggested this issue be set aside to a future meeting while more information was gathered.
Mayor Sean Nolls noted all other members of SWMA would have to pass these resolutions too which could take weeks, so it wasn't an urgent rush to pass them.
However, councillors decided instead to unanimously pass the following resolution: that the Town of Stettler council approve the County of Stettler No. 6 Feb. 13, 2023 offer to purchase and the acquisition of NW 34-40-19-W4M by the County of Stettler No. 6 as trustee for and on behalf of the municipalities comprising the SWMA as beneficial owners.
Further, that the Town of Stettler council authorize the CAO, together with the (mayor), to sign and enter into a trust agreement pursuant to which the County of Stettler No. 6 will hold title to the NW 34-40-19-W4M in trust for the benefit of the municipalities comprising the SWMA, subject to the mayor's satisfaction of the wording agreement.
Switenky gave councillors a presentation on how the recently announced 2023 provincial budget could affect the Town of Stettler.
The CAO noted he was assisted by an analysis recently written by the Alberta Municipalities Association (AMA).
The CAO began his presentation by noting it appears Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) operating funding appears to have doubled; the Town of Stettler usually gets about $52,000 per year for this, so likely will see that jump to $104,000.
The Town of Stettler will receive about the same MSI capital funding as last year, roughly $650,000.
He noted the provincial government is expecting to retire MSI next year and introduce a new program with a new funding formula so Stettler will have to wait and see what it gets.
It also appears FCSS funding will increase, with Switenky noting such funding is based on an 80/20 ratio so if Stettler wants to access those funds, it will also have to kick in more money.
The provincial budget also appears to have increased public library funding by about five per cent.
The CAO stated the province also increased police funding by $9 million. Coun. Gord Lawlor stated victim services funding was boosted $12 million which made the police boost seem like a small amount.
Switenky stated that if the provincial government increases the amount of money given to the Town of Stettler, administration is happy.
Councillors accepted the report as information.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review