Town councillors have denied a request from the Klaglahachie Fine Arts Society (KFAS) for $15,000 to help pay for elevated seating at the United Church, where the society’s plays are held.
The request came to council during a regular meeting April 22. A letter from KFAS to councillors states the money would be part of a $100,000 Canadian Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP) grant request. KFAS said they would contribute $25,000 with the rest of the funds coming from the CFEP grant.
Acting CAO Betty Quinlan told councillors there is no money budgeted for this request. “We don’t typically have pools of funds for this type of thing.”
Coun. Marc Yaworski agreed. “We don’t have any money for this unfortunately.”
Coun. Loanna Gulka suggests groups should submit their requests with financials during the town’s budget deliberations. This would give councillors a chance to consider where to put tax dollars.
“We will endeavour to try to create some kind of funding program along with criteria,” added Quinlan.
Ponoka County was asked to provide the same amount and approved the request on condition the Town of Ponoka also provide funding. County council will review the request in an upcoming meeting, said CAO Charlie Cutforth. KFAS has 20-year long-term lease with the United Church, which can be renewed or extended.
Town ratifies collective agreement with AUPE
A new collective agreement was ratified with the Town of Ponoka and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) last week.
Members of the AUPE Local 118/004 will receive a three-year deal that will see a seven per cent wage increase for the first year, which includes a three per cent market adjustment and a four per cent wage increase.
Year two will see a three per cent wage increase and year three will see a three and a half per cent wage increase. AUPE representatives say they are pleased with the announcement. A press release from the union states the Town of Ponoka joins the City of Cold Lake in what they call a “positive trend in bargaining with provincial employees.”
“This employer was a pleasure to deal with from the start of negotiations,” said AUPE negotiator Ken Cutrell. “The town is very supportive of its employees and grateful of the work staff do for the community. That’s reflected in this agreement.”
The AUPE says the agreement will keep pace with the Alberta Average Weekly Earnings for the next three years.
The agreement also includes improvements to vacation, named holidays and shift premium.
"I can't comment on other municipalities as to their agreements with their employees. I feel the deal we made is fair for all parties involved and shows that the town (council and administration) values our employees,” said Councillor Loanna Gulka.
“For me this was my first time sitting on the negotiating committee and it was a positive experience working with our local union representatives and Ken Cuttell from the AUPE."
Rezoning applications to council
Town councillors heard two rezoning applications during a public hearing April 22.
The first was a request to close the lane behind the First Baptist Church. The church owns the property and has been maintaining it for some years. Council heard the request but no decisions were made as the Minister of Transportation must see the application. If approved by the minister, the request will return to town councillors for second and/or third readings.
The second request came from Denver and Christie Polson to rezone their property on 4007 39 Street to R1A district from R1 district. The proposal is to subdivide their property into four lots with three facing 38 Street and one facing 39 Street.
Darlene Pfahl, a resident on 3912 39 Street, was concerned about the proposed lot sizes. She feels they will be too small for the neighbourhood.
“I don’t see this as in keeping with the area,” said Pfahl.
Betty Jurykoski, planning and development officer for the Town of Ponoka, said the proposed lots are 16.6 metres, or 54.4 feet in width, which would be higher than the 40 foot minimum for R1A district. She feels the area of this proposal will be a benefit to the town in the long-term.
“There’s a lot of land up there with huge potential for families,” said Jurykoski.
“Usually development will drive development,” she added.
Councillors approved second reading on the request but tabled the decision for the next council meeting of May 13.
Town realtor commission rates considered
Administration has been directed to speak with real estate agents on the Town of Ponoka’s commission rates.
They were presented with a proposal to adjust commission rates to realtors selling town land.
Administration seeks the expertise of a realtor to make the sale of town owned residential, commercial and industrial land and currently the commission is at a flat five per cent. Acting CAO Betty Quinlan says she has spoken with different municipalities and has seen different commission rates.
“What we found was there was a varying degree of how other municipalities handle it,” explained Quinlan.
However, no real estate agencies have been approached for feedback.
The proposal shows five per cent commission for the first $100,000 in sales, three per cent on the next $400,000 and one per cent on any amount remaining above $500,000.
Coun. Sandra Lyon, a real estate agent, provided some feedback. She said she is not able to represent the town because of her role as councillor and did not feel there was conflict of interest in providing her opinion.
She suggested administration consider raising the commission to six per cent, rather than five per cent, for the first $100,000. This amount is generally the market rate, she explained but otherwise feels the general proposal is equitable.
“As far as what’s laid out there, then this is fair,” said Lyon.
No decisions were made as administration will speak with other realtors for feedback.