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Regular Council meeting returns via zoom

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative

Hinton Council touched on seven action items during the April 21 meeting

Tax Rate Bylaw moves to next regular meeting

The tax rate bylaw received first and second reading during the council meeting on April 21, but not the third, which means it has not yet passed.

Coun. Dewly Nelson stated he would be voting against unanimous consent to move onto the third reading due to the limited time council received to review the first finalized budget. 

He said he only received the detailed capital budget document one day prior.

Carla Fox, director of corporate services, explained that the budget is made up of different source revenues and municipal taxes is only one of them. The tax rate is determined by the municipal taxes that were approved in the budget and this hasn’t changed, said Fox.

“The tax rate bylaw itself will not change the budget, nor will the budget change the tax rate bylaw at this point because it’s already adopted,” said Fox.

Delaying the approval of the tax rate bylaw will delay the time it takes administration to calculate the taxes and the timing of the tax invoices going out to the public, Fox said.

Normally, invoices go out on May 15, but this year a deferral program has been offered.

The deferral program will cause cash flow issues for the town and administration doesn’t want to delay people paying their taxes who aren’t deferring as it helps the town access necessary funds to operate, Fox said.

The approved 2020 operating budget is $29,137,747, and the Tax Rate Bylaw is required to generate $13,013,023 in municipal taxation. In addition to municipal taxation, the Town of Hinton also collects the School Tax Levy and Evergreen Foundation Levy, which are set by the province and the municipality responsible for collection and remittance.

Assessment values presented to Council in March have since decreased by $161,000 in Commercial assessments, which is immaterial in the results, stated Administration.

If the tax rate bylaw is passed at the next regular council meeting, tax rates for 2020 will be decreasing by 3.1 per cent over 2019.

Council did pass the Supplementary Assessments Bylaw #1146. A supplementary taxation bylaw is necessary each year in order to assess and collect taxes for the taxation year on newly completed improvements, administration stated. The 2020 Budget contains $10,951 in supplementary property taxation revenue.

This bylaw authorizes the Town to perform an assessment on new improvements completed, occupied, or used during the 2019 tax year and authorizes the properties listed on the supplementary assessment roll to be taxed at the rate established in the current year’s tax bylaw.

Council approves Waste Rate Bylaw

Council passed the Waste Rate Bylaw, which was approved during the 2020 budget process to include an increase to waste collection rates by five per cent for nonresidential customers.

This rate will be effective on May 1 and will add $18,500 to utility revenues to offset annual operational costs. The Waste Rate Bylaw is amended each year to reflect the revised collection rates as set by the budget.

Town of Hinton to offer Safety Codes Services

The Town of Hinton received approval from council to become an accredited Municipality for Safety Codes Services and will establish an administrative function for permit sales and file administration.

All inspections in all disciplines will be performed through a contract with an accredited agency, with who the inspection risk is shared.

The benefits of this, as laid out by administration, include the ability to set a high level of service through a Quality Management Plan, generate revenue for the municipality through direct service delivery of permit issuance, establish a fee schedule that is affordable for residents, customize the service delivery model to fit local needs, and residents will be able to obtain all required permits in one location at the Town office.

“Two key elements that are going to benefit the community, the first is the fact that we’re going to be offering safety code services, which is a really essential function for the community in development, and secondly, that it’s done in a way that we anticipate it’s going to generate revenue,” said Coun. Ryan Maguhn.

The Town of Hinton will also be able to track and monitor development and safety codes permits, and have more control for the municipality.

The role of the permit issuer could be assumed by a current staff with reallocation of responsibilities, resulting in minimal additional costs.

“The staff we currently have on board is the right level and we can perform this function. This is largely an administrative function, where we’re already meeting with customers that come to the desk. We’re already issuing permits, so this is the next logical step,” said Peter Vana, director of development services.

A tracking system would be added into an existing tracking system, and instead of creating more work, administration is streamlining how safety codes are being handled, Vana said.

The Town of Hinton must now complete an application form, prepare a Quality Management Plan (QMP), and pay a fee before they are approved. Administration anticipates services to be available by June or July, in order to go out for bids for a safety code contractor.

Amendment to Asset Management Policy

Council approved minor amendments to the Asset Management Policy DS-6100.

During the development of the Hinton Asset Management Strategy, administration examined the Town’s current asset management practices and proposed objectives and improvements were undertaken. 

The results of the review were a few minor changes proposed to Asset Management Policy DS-6100 in order for the two documents to align. 

The overarching Asset Management Policy DS-6100 was approved by Council on May 7, 2019, which is to be followed by establishing the Asset Management Strategy, and then the Asset Management Plans.

Amendments were originally brought to council at the March 24, 2020 Standing Committee meeting.

Coun. Trevor Haas stated that once the policy is in place, it will help the town make financial decisions in the future.

Development Services Policies rescinded

Council rescinded multiple policies after a review by administration and discussion at the standing committee meeting on March 24, 2020.

Policies include Policy No. 046 – Development Deposit, Policy No. 049 – Residential Land Development Tax Credit, Policy No. 061 – Building Permit Plans, and Policy No. 091 – Municipality in Land Development.

Administration determined those policies were no longer relevant and should be rescinded after they reviewed all policies. 

Administration established a more clear and effective system for the development and distribution of policies and governing documents.

The new system included a Policy and a Reference Manual, setting out guidelines to provide direction for the development, approval, and maintenance of policies, procedures, and directives for the Town of Hinton.

Amendment to Business License Bylaw

Council passed amendments to the Business License Bylaw 1126-1 that included regulations regarding cannabis business licensing.

Administration reviewed bylaw 1126, which indicated that cannabis business license requirements outlined within the Bylaw were repetitious of regulations that fall under the Land Use Bylaw 1088 and Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC).

Provincial jurisdiction through the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act and the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Regulation supersedes municipal bylaws. Amendments to the Bylaw remove duplicative regulations.

2020 Regional Assessment Review Board

Council appointed Nigel Knight as the Designated Chair and Terri Williams as the Designated Clerk for the West Yellowhead Regional Assessment Review Board, for a one-year term starting April 21.

These appointed positions are part of an inter-municipal assessment review board that was established in 2007 between Jasper, Edson, Grande Cache, and Hinton. Since then, the Town of Grande Cache has withdrawn. 

The intent of the regional board is to have rotating communities provide a Designated Chair and Designated Clerk, and Hinton is providing these positions for 2020.