Utility rates increase by 5 per cent

Residents will see an increase in their utility flat rates in the new year.

Residents will see an increase in their utility flat rates in the new year.

The 5 per cent increase is meant to keep in line with inflation rates, explained Betty Quinlan, director of corporate services for the Town of Ponoka.

“The reason we’re looking at increases is specifically that the water and sewer need to be self-sustaining.”

Any profit will go back into ensuring service levels can be maintained, she added.

A home that uses an average of 20 cubic metres a month will see an increase of $5.52.

“The total utility cost including garbage actually will be…$115 a month,” said Quinlan.

Flat rates will be increased to $52, but compared to other central Alberta communities, which sit in at an average of $70.65, the amount is still lower. There are some differences in services, but Quinlan wanted to give councillors an idea of where Ponoka is. “We’re still sitting lower than the majority.

A sample utility bill provided by Quinlan shows the average bill at $109 per month for 2013. The difference is a $5.52 increase for 2014.

New Land lease deal with Ponoka Stampede

Livestock corral and trailer parking spaces may be expanding for the Ponoka Stampede Association.

The group asked council to enter into a 10-year-lease over town land located near the Stampede Grounds. The land is the old dump site for the town and is now considered “nuisance grounds”, explained CAO Brad Watson. “There is a restrictive covenant put on by Alberta Environment.”

He told councillors during the regular town council meeting Dec. 10 that the association cannot develop the land beyond minor improvements because of its designation. Despite the restrictions, they will be able to make the property usable for parking and livestock. “They were hoping to receive a 25-year lease,” said Watson.

He was asked by the previous council to shorten the proposed term from 25 years, which is why he suggested 10. If the association does take over the lease, the responsibility of upkeep is theirs.

A lease fee of $100 per year is applied to the property, which Mayor Rick Bonnett feels is fair considering the maintenance required. “If we don’t have somebody taking over the lease, then the town services are up there mowing the grass and doing whatever they can.”

Usually the town will give other interested parties an opportunity to lease the land but this property is surrounded by land owned by the association, explained Watson.

“The access is not that great,” said Bonnett.

“It’s at least going to be clean and taken care of,” he added.

Business buys land in Ponoka

Town owned land on 5800 Highway 2A has just been approved for sale.

Council approved the sale of three quarters of an acre at approximately $65,587 — one acre has a value of $87,450. In 2008, Ponoka County transferred the property to the Town of Ponoka, which developed the land for sale in 2009, explained Watson.

“The individual wants to take the north part of that subject property and subdivide it off to relocate that business from a larger municipality into this municipality.”

He feels the amount offered is fair market value and Coun. Mark Yaworski was pleased with the deal. “New business coming into this town is a big, big plus and it will be a fairly high profile place.”

The property is located south of the Wolf Creek Public Schools administration office and because the land came from Ponoka County, the town is obligated to return 50 per cent of any net increase.

Cervus Equipment receives extension

Company representatives of Cervus Equipment met with Mayor Rick Bonnett recently seeking an extension to the purchase agreement recently made with the town. Watson told council the company needs extra time to secure building plans from the town.

The extension gives the company time to secure plans by March 10, 2014 rather than Dec. 10. Watson feels the draft building plans are “very excellent.”

Smoke testing

The town has hired SFE Global to perform smoke tests in the Laebon subdivision. There may be incorrect sewer services connected to the storm main and Dave McPhee, director of operations and property services, needs to see where. He told councillors the smoke tests might help find the problem areas.

Part of the issue appears to be in the inspection process, he said.

“There’s a gap between putting in the building and the service connection,” McPhee explained.

In discussion with development officer Betty Quinlan, McPhee has said all documents should be included in the development permit so town operators can inspect all the work to the building before it is covered.

“If the pipes aren’t coded right or questionable, just simply run the camera in,” he said.

Camera inspection on sewer line

A sewer main backup on 49 Avenue has caused the town to hire a company to inspect the line with cameras. This is the second backup on this line from the 5100 block to the west end of the 5200 block of 49 Avenue in six months.

Library board appointments

Councillors approved the reappointment of Jerry Siemens to the Ponoka Jubilee Library Board for a three-year term from Dec. 1, 2013 to Nov. 30, 2016. Council also approved the recommendation that Murray Shack replace Rick Wyrozub, whose term is to finish at the end of this year.

Shack’s term will commence Jan. 1, 2014 until Dec. 31, 2016.