What a beautiful weekend! It was fun to see the ``beach scene`` at Cascade Ponds and Johnson Lake yesterday.
Tomorrow, Council has three – count `em, three – meetings. Highlights are below ...
You can see the full package for the finance committee meeting at this link:
Council will be looking at the second quarter financial results and the forecast to year-end. The package shows a forecast $30K surplus at year-end. It also shows a savings in the wages & benefits area of $274K, which is more than council had directed at budget time. However, increased expenses in other areas have eaten up part of that extra saving. You can see the full report starting on page 5 of the package.
At the finance meeting, council will also be looking at the recommendations for water and sewer rates over the next few years. Our water and sewer services are self-funded utilities – that means that the fees you pay for water and sewer cover all the costs of operating the systems, plus the costs of maintaining and renewing the pipes, pumps, plant and so on. This means that we have to look far ahead to ensure that our capital reserves will be there when a major piece of infrastructure needs replacing. The report (which starts on page 35 of the package) shows that we`re doing OK on the water utility, but that we will be underfunded in future in the sewer utility. In order to prevent a situation where the town suddenly has to come up with multi-millions, administration is recommending a 9% increase in sewer rates in 2011 and 2012, and then 9.58% per year from 2013 – 2021. This will get us to the reserve levels that we need. A steeper rate of increase was proposed earlier, but this new proposal spreads it out a bit, in response to feedback from the public. I will be supporting this proposal – which will be no surprise, as I have always been vocal about ensuring that our capital reserves are at the level that they should be.
You can see the full package for the council meeting at:
Here are some of the highlights ...
Land Use Bylaw working group
In response to feedback about the directions in Phase 2 of the Land Use Bylaw, council is putting together a working group to examine the potential economic impact of spot-zoning grocery stores and service stations, the potential economic impact of extra regulations for formula fast-food businesses, and the levels of parking and housing requirements that go with commercial development in the Town of Banff. You can see the report about this, starting on page 11 of the package.
I think the working group is a good idea, although I will be suggesting some process changes in the wording of the terms of reference. There are spaces for four members of the general public on this committee, and I hope you will consider putting your name forward. These are issues that have generated a lot of heat in the town – now it`s time to shed some light, and you can be part of that.
Financial contribution to Legacy Trail extension
Council has been asked to commit $50K to the project to connect the Legacy Trail from the East Gate into Harvie Heights. Canmore is being asked for the same amount, and the province has committed $200K. I think most people have had a chance to see the safety issues going on right now as cyclists attempt to get from one trail to the other. It would be great to see those fixed, and it has been a long haul attempting to persuade the province to allow this, so kudos to all those who hung in there and kept the pressure on. I will be supporting this expenditure.
I am distressed to see that the MD of Bighorn council believes that this connection is ``not important to the businesses or residents of Harvie Heights``, and that the MD will therefore not contribute financially. Gosh, I thought there were cyclists living in Harvie Heights, but apparently not.
You can see the full report, starting on page 29 of the package.
You have probably seen the flurry of discussion about skateboarding that has taken place lately, along with some pretty interesting assumptions about why we have skateboarding regulations. This was prompted by council asking to see a history of the skateboarding regulations and enforcement in the town of Banff. You can see that report starting on page 33 of the package. It is possible that council will be looking at a request to lift the 11 pm to 7 am ban.
Starting on page 35, you can see a report about the current status of the skatepark, which was reopened in July after a major session of repair and maintenance. Plans for the future will be part of the Banff Recreation Master Plan.
BANFF HOUSING CORPORATION SHAREHOLDERS` MEETING
The final meeting of the day will be the BHC shareholders` meeting – you can see the entire package at this link:
After the last meeting, when council looked at a proposal for increasing the annual administration fees charged to BHC homeowners, there were some questions about further detail on the proposal. The BHC board has provided answers to those questions (report starts on page 7 of the package) and now council, acting as the BHC shareholder, will once again be looking at the decision on whether to increase admin fees.
Al the best `til next time! Leslie