Town of Lumsden - Debate over Paving, EV Charge Station, Council Sets Mill Rate

·6 min read

Planning and Development

Council discussed a municipal boulevard lease agreement for Free Bird. Planning and Development Director Aimee Bryck asked the Council if there were some alternatives to the cement bollards as the town didn’t have enough to accommodate. Council had several suggestions for Bryck, who will engage Free Bird in further discussion. Councillors Byron Tumbach and Verne Barber mentioned concern regarding the safety and liability from the bollards and urged caution.

TM’z Veterinary Clinic

Council discussed the access for the veterinary clinic. Mayor Matheson and Councillor Barber suggested that the only access should be from 7th Avenue and close off the dike so that there is little to no traffic on the dike.

Councillor Barber acknowledged that there was concern regarding the amount of traffic. He said that it was unlikely that cattle producers would be hauling semi loads of cattle to the vet, and it would be more likely that animals would be horses in a single or double trailer.

Mayor Matheson said he has a significant concern regarding the traffic at the beginning of the construction phase. The CAO recommended an engineering assessment before and after the work to determine if the hauling has caused damage.

RCMP Delegation

Sgt. Chad Clark presented as a delegation to the Council as part of the RCMP’s annual community consultation.

Councillor Jenelle Brennan asked if the RCMP can have cameras at the entrance to town. Sgt. Clark said that the RCMP would use it if needed for a specific purpose. He said the Capture Program is a community program used to assist the RCMP where community members identify with the municipal office if they have security cameras, doorbell cameras, etc.

Council asked about the potential for ATV licensing and kids speeding around the school.

Sask Electric Vehicle Association

Matt Pointer with the Sask Electric Vehicle Association presented as a delegation to the Council, providing the Council with a brief PowerPoint presentation on electric vehicles and encouraging the town of Lumsden to bring charging stations to the town. Pointer said one of the benefits of the charging stations is that when people stop to charge their vehicles, they frequent local businesses while waiting for their cars to charge.

Reserves

Mayor Matheson felt that some of the initial ideas behind the reserves had been lost over time. He thought that it would be a good discussion to have with the Council at some point. Councillor Verne Barber also agreed that a discussion around contribution levels to the reserves, the rationale behind the reserves, and the reserves’ usage should be discussed around the topic.

Paving Road to Wastewater Treatment Plant

The Town Council held public budget meetings over two sessions on April 13 and 21st. There was some vigorous discussion around spending a quarter of a million dollars paving the road to the wastewater treatment plant. Councillor Byron Tumbach was vehemently opposed to paving the road as he believes the road is fine. He asked the rest of the Council if anyone questioned the need to pave the road when there are other priorities. Mayor Matheson said public works wants to pave the road because the base is solid and can be paved at a minimal cost. However, the price will increase if left because the road will then require a total rebuild.

Byron noted that two good ditches and a solid base that only requires gravel, which is only used by Town staff and a few delivery trucks, do not necessitate spending such a large amount of money the town doesn’t require. Mayor Matheson said that he stands behind public works opinion, which deals with roads all of the time. Councillor Tumbach challenged Matheson to find a quarter of a million dollars when the town needs to complete an expansion on the water treatment plant. Tumbach added that the Council doesn’t know what solar will cost.

Councillor Rhonda Phillips said that the Council is deciding on taxes, and the road has nothing to do with the taxes. Councillor Tumbach pushed back, questioning if she was ok with the water and sewer rates increases.

Councillor Jenelle asked if the Council knew the rationale behind it. Phillips responded that she does but was reluctant to get into it during the discussion because the Council is deciding property taxes. Yet, they were getting stuck on the utility, which is not funded through property taxes. Phillips added that she felt they should have a utility budget meeting in the fall for the following year and possibly talk about it at the committee in a few days. She noted she felt it distracting the Council from their purposes at the meeting. Councillor Tumbach reiterated that a quarter of a million dollars wasn’t distracting to him.

Mayor Matheson asked the CAO if she had a suggestion on the matter. CAO Merkosky said the five-year plan forms part of the entire budget. So when the Council sets the rate, it will be approving all of the items on the utility reserves. She added that nothing had been approved for the year. Councillor Tumbach made a motion that the Council defers paving of the wastewater treatment plant to a future year. Councillor Jenelle said she thought the road was fine but wanted to know more information before seconding a motion. Councillor Barber and Rawlings also thought it was worth further discussion. Councillor Tumbach wanted input from an engineer instead of the Council making decisions from public works opinion on its own. Councillor Phillips said that paving the road was in the initial design from an engineer and that after discussions, it was taken out of the plan when the town applied for funding. She added that public works suggested paving be put back in to be completed after the road had been gravelled.

Councillor Tumbach again appealed to Council the project be deferred for a year and that every councillor should drive on the road to see for themselves. The CAO said she sensed that no one was comfortable seconding the motion be deferred to another year and that people have questions about the paving for this year. She suggested Council may make a motion when approving the budget that excludes the water and wastewater five-year capital plan. She added that way council could discuss the matter in the group 2 committee before bringing it back.

Councillor Brennan added that she had concerns that townspeople may have issues when sidewalks are needed in town, along with other issues when the Council is allocating money to a random road that appeared perfectly fine. Councillor Phillips said that the weight of the trucks that deliver on the road in conjunction with the rain that runs down the hill would impact, in addition, that employees would track mud into the building.

Mayor Matheson closed the discussion and will accept the CAO’s recommendation to exclude the matter from the evening’s decision on taxation if they reach one.

Council Sets the Mill Rate

LMT reached out to Krystal Strong, Assistant Administrator at the Town of Lumsden to explain the intricate details of council setting the mill rate. She said the Town of Lumsden saw a loss of approximately $20 million in assessment in 2021 as a result of SAMA’s provincial revaluation (which happens every four years). Commercial assessments went down by 1/3 from last year; therefore, a mill rate factor of 1.40 will be applied. Council resolved to set the mill rate of 7.502 mills and agreed to have further discussions regarding capital expenditures for the utility.

Jennifer Argue, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Last Mountain Times

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