Village of Morrin facing budget shortfall and water is the culprit

·4 min read

The Village of Morrin is facing a shortfall in its budget and the culprit appears to be the water department.

The issue was discussed at the Nov. 17 regular meeting of council.

During Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Annette Plachner’s financial report it was mentioned the water department may place more pressure on the village budget than anticipated, as the cost to repair the sewer laterals was more than budgeted and water usage in the village was higher than anticipated.

Plachner noted purchase of water from the water commission is based on usage.

Official Administrator (OA) Harold Johnsrude stated that he and Plachner had analyzed issues in the water department and found the budgeted amount was less than what 2021 usage has been.

Johnsrude stated Morrin has used seven per cent more water than estimated. He also stated it appears there was a mistake in the budget, as when he drew it up last spring he didn’t include the final quarter of 2020.

Hence, he added that there will be an overage on that line in the budget, but also noted some parts of the budget have come in less than expected and he’s optimistic the budget will even out.

By-election

During her CAO’s report Plachner noted nominations for the by-election remain open until Nov. 22, with a campaign period followed by the election on Dec. 13.

It’s anticipated new councillors will be sworn in at the Dec. 15 regular meeting.

Utility fee increase

Johnsrude moved and passed all readings of the new rates and fees bylaw, which will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2022, which includes a 10 per cent increase in utility rates for village residents.

Johnsrude stated the rate increase was necessary to balance the village’s budget, and noted he wanted to pass the bylaw before the by-election so new councillors wouldn’t have to cope with it. It was noted the old rates remain in effect until Dec. 31.

2nd Ave. South infrastructure

Johnsrude moved and passed a resolution that the Village of Morrin apply for Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding for the engineering design costs of the 2nd Ave. South infrastructure project.

Interim budget approved

Johnsrude moved and passed a resolution to approve an interim 2022 budget in accordance with Municipal Government Act (MGA) rules.

The OA stated that the interim budget must be passed before Dec. 31, and with the by-election in December, he wanted to lighten new council’s workload a bit.

Water leak

Public Works Foreman Dave Benci reported that a water leak occurred on Nov. 4, and he was notified of it in the evening.

The foreman stated he got a call because water was below the minimum level in the storage tank, suggesting it was running out faster than it could be replaced.

Benci noted he began checking fire hydrants and found nothing wrong and then shifted to looking at the sewer system.

Upon investigation Benci stated he isolated the problem to 1st Ave.

It was revealed internet service provider Netago was drilling in an alley and drilled through the water service line and the sewer line.

The foreman stated he’s compiled a list of costs the village incurred from the break and will have it forwarded to Netago.

Public Works update

Benci went on to report the contractors has finished wiring the new village office security system, including cameras.

He stated the building now has 24 hour recording on all sides, and CAO Plachner added that even the nighttime video is crisp and clear.

When asked how long the system can record before the memory is full Benci stated it looks like at least two weeks, as the system has a 1 TB storage capacity.

Both Benci and Plachner stated in their regular reports Morrin and Delia have agreed to have Benci help Delia’s staff once a week as they work to getting water certification.

Also, both staff confirmed engineers have told them that the emergency pump should arrive by Jan., 2022 and be installed shortly thereafter.

Future consideration

Johnsrude sent two items to 2022 budget deliberations, including hydrant isolation valves and a grant request from the Morrin Community Association.

Three isolation valves are needed, estimated at $10,000 each, while the association was requesting thier regular $700 grant.

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

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