Airport renters offer manpower to reduce rates

There are three people at the airport leasing hangars who would rather not pay the recent 10-per-cent increase in rent

The Town of Ponoka is conducting an assessment of its land behind the airport.

The Town of Ponoka is conducting an assessment of its land behind the airport.

There are three people at the airport leasing hangars who would rather not pay the recent 10-per-cent increase in rent, says lessee Vern Bruns.

He says they have offered to mow the lawn in exchange for a reduction in the rates, about $40 each. “All we ask is that they don’t increase our rates.”

Rather than paying town employees to transport the mower and then the time it takes to mow the grass, this would be a cost savings to the town and would save them money, he says.

CAO Brad Watson has received a proposal from Brian West, chairman of the airport commission, that he would mow the grass but no formal offer from the commission to handle the mowing. “He (West) mows and cleans around his place.”

The rent increase was to handle the deficit and the ongoing operations to keep the airport functioning, which increases annually. The airport commission pulled out of an agreement with the town some years ago over issues with the trees being cut down. Since then the town has not been approached with a new option but Watson welcomes offers from the commission.

“We would jump at that. We would welcome the opportunity,” he stated.

Airport feasibility study

Tagish Engineering has been contracted to study the benefits of subdividing existing lots behind the airport to accommodate smaller planes. The lots are considered too big for a single plane and Watson feels there is potential for the land, which is currently one municipal title. The cost for the study is $15,000.

Britannia Lodge tax reduction request denied

A request from the Britannia Lodge to reduce a portion of taxes on their 5115 60 Avenue property has been denied by council.

Mayor Larry Henkelman declared a conflict of interest and left the room during a meeting July 9, as he is a member of the Masonic fraternity.

Coun. Rick Bonnett did not support the request because he feels the organization should not be the only one to receive a tax reduction. “For one organization to have it over everybody else, at this time I would be opposed.”

He invited all the community groups to submit their requests for budget deliberations.

“I’d invite all the organizations at budget time to come with a request,” he added.

The request came to council June 11 and was tabled to give administration more time to compare what other municipalities have done. A list of the municipalities presented to council as providing reductions was not accurate.

The towns of Olds and Innisfail do not provide reductions but Wetaskiwin, Lacombe and Stettler do.

Coun. Loanna Gulka feels supporting the request sets a precedent. “I view this a little bit differently than a service organization because it is a fraternity.”

The Municipal Government Act shows Ducks Unlimited, properties with hostelling, properties in connection with the Legion, Army, Navy or Air Force are exempt from taxation. Council can create a bylaw to make any non-profit agency tax exempt.

Typo correction

A typo in the St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic School tax bill has shown the need to amend the bylaw.

The tax rate should have been 3.9439 but was submitted to Municipal Affairs as 3.9349 resulting in a $108.11 error.

“We have to send the bylaw to Municipal Affairs…We’re out $108 but we have to correct the typo,” says CAO Brad Watson.

“We asked if we could leave it and they said, ‘No,’” explained Betty Quinlan, director of corporate services.

Bonnett feels this is a waste of council’s time. “Tell the municipal (affairs) to quit wasting our time.”

Splash park

Washroom conditions at Centennial Park have been an issue and councillors have dealt with some complaints over it.

“I have fielded numerous complaints about the condition of the washrooms at the splash park,” said Gulka.

Wes Amendt, director of community services, knows about the issues and has spoken with summer staff. Gulka is also worried about kids slipping at the splash park.

“There were numerous kids that slipped and fell today,” she added.

A portion of the concrete pad at the park is more slippery than others. Amendt believes a contractor will be coming in to re-brush the concrete.

“I guess it concerns me a little bit because it’s been turned over to the town,” Gulka stated.

North Bridge repairs

The town has contracted Tagish Engineering to provide some updated information on repairs to the North Bridge. Cost and other issues are being looked at and Watson hopes to have three options for council to consider.

For now, repairing the bridge is a better option. “Replacing it would cost multi-millions.”

Hudson’s Green centre updates

There is another $322,000 set aside this year to continue improvements at the Hudson’s Green Nature and Activity Centre such as acoustics, exterior signs and landscaping. A parking area project has already been tendered.

So far the town has spent $886,000 for the building, $307,000 of which came from government grants.

Paving near the outdoor rink

Amendt has $27,700 set aside to put pavement on the south side of the Scott Seaman Outdoor Rink. He hopes to have it completed this year.

Community centre updates

There is $80,000 planned for modernization of the Kinsmen Community Centre. Some of those changes include painting, re-varnishing the woodwork and possibly installing air conditioning units.

These improvements will occur once the Ponoka Gymnastics and Trampoline Club is settled into their new building although there is no set completion date.