Potential utility bill increase and other council tidbits

Staff ~ The Prince Albert Daily Herald
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City residents face a potential 9.2 per cent utility bill increase this year, as part of a multi-year increase city council approved last year.

 

City Hall

City administration estimated last year that the city currently faces an underground infrastructure backlog of about $71 million, with Mayor Greg Dionne noting at the time that the multi-year increase was put into place to begin addressing the problem.

Now’s the time to address it, he said, noting that the problem is only growing, with the 1990 infrastructure backlog estimated at only $11 million.

At Monday’s executive committee meeting, the 2014 water utility operating and capital budget was passed on to the April 28 city council meeting with minimal discussion from city council.

Depending on a 9.2 per cent utility bill increase, the budget includes operating expenses of $10,886,050 and an operating surplus of $3,493,620 to fund capital projects and loan principal payments.

Almost every one of the long list of identified capital expenditures is being funded, but the following have not been funded;

• The revitalization of a homeowners lead service connection replacement program, which would be better streamlined by the city than the previous program was. Suggested funding would be $50,000.

• A water treatment plant operator succession plan at a cost of $80,000.

• Central Avenue North ditching improvements of $15,000.

The city’s elected officials are expected to make a utility bill decision at the April 28 city council meeting.

The following items will also be discussed at the April 28 meeting, set to begin in council chambers at 5 p.m.:

• Custodial care facilities are always a touchy subject at council chambers, with the city’s elected officials typically reluctant to approve of the facilities in their wards.

Custodial care facilities house people under the young offenders act, summary offences act, corrections and conditional release act and community training residence as defined in the corrections act.

These facilities are currently allowed within residential and commercial zones at the discretion of council.

A proposed bylaw amendment would see the allowance of custodial care facilities in heavy industrial zones as a discretionary use.

This means that, as with residential and commercial proposals, custodial care facilities must first go through public notice and receive city council approval.

• A strategic plan for economic development is proving difficult to set up with the city’s elected officials.

At Monday’s executive committee meeting, Coun. Charlene Miller requested that alternative dates to June 11 and June 12 be set up, since she is unable to attend.

Already delayed, a couple of times, Mayor Greg Dionne argued that they should forge ahead with the two-day strategic planning session, anyway.

• Amendments to the portable sign bylaw are being proposed -- an item that has long drawn controversy to council chambers. A list of changes are proposed, which ultimately determine where mobile signs are allowed and under what circumstances they are allowed to go there.

• West Coast Amusements Ltd. are expected to hold their annual carnival at South Hill Mall from June 11 to June 15 at a license fee of $800.

• Past Prime-Minister John Diefenbaker’s home -- commonly referred to as the Diefenbaker House Museum -- is seeking municipal heritage property designation.

Organizations: West Coast Amusements, Diefenbaker House Museum

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