Snow removal proving costly to town planners

With the first snowfall of the season already experienced, it seemed appropriate for town councillors to look at

With the first snowfall of the season already experienced, it seemed appropriate for town councillors to look at the snow removal budget during their regular meeting Sept. 9.

Councillors amended the operating budget to provide much needed funds for the depleted snow removal account. Sandra Lund, acting director of corporate services for the Town of Ponoka, told councillors that $325,000 had already been spent in 2014.

The town budgeted for $96,000 in snow removal.

She asked councillors to include a transfer of $275,000 from the general benefit reserve, which would leave $45,000 in snow removal dollars for the remainder of the year.

Coun. Carla Prediger was curious about general snow removal costs. “On average, what is the typical amount spent for snow removal?”

Lund provided numbers for the last three years:

• 2013: almost $200,000

• 2012: approximately $40,000

• 2011: $160,000

Coun. Teri Underhill was unsure if the amount was enough. “Is $45,000 at the end of the year going to be enough?”

Mayor Rick Bonnett did not think so but said they may need to plan for that at a later date.

Water meter replacement continues

Replacing the water meters in town to the newer Neptune wireless gadgets appears to be going at a faster pace now that town planners have more information for residents.

Lund says hard refusals are down and no one has made any cancellations. More than 1,000 of the 2,450 meters have been replaced and staff have already booked new replacements.

Fifteen service valves have been replaced in residential buildings and 14 curb stops — a valve to turn water on or off to a building — have been replaced or repaired.

Prediger is pleased with the new meters. “I had a dramatic decrease in my water bill.”

Councillors on the hunt for a new CAO

In recent weeks, town councillors have interviewed several applicants for a new CAO and have gone to second interviews with a few candidates.

During council reports period, some councillors explained they were part of the interview process. No announcements have been made yet as councillors are still in the interview and reference checking process. Councillors have narrowed the list to two potential candidates.

Arena scheduling and cancellation policy

Councillors approved minor changes to the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex Ice Scheduling/Cancellation policy.

Wes Amendt, director of community services for the Town of Ponoka, said most changes are for clarity in the document, including changing the ice scheduler from complex operator to recreation clerk.

It also follows procedures in the Culture and Recreation Facility Rental Policy updated last year.