Town council approves $120,000 funding reallocation

Funding set for the Town of Ponoka’s administration was reallocated to help pay for the temporary move to the old PES building.

Funding set for the Town of Ponoka’s administration was reallocated to help pay for the temporary move to the old Ponoka Elementary School building.

In a vote of 4-2 at the Tuesday, Sept. 8 regular meeting, council reallocated $120,000 set for the roof repairs and main floor renovations at Town Hall. As the building is being vacated this fall over health concerns, CAO Rachel Kunz requested the reallocation to allow for the move and setup of equipment.

Kunz said the majority of costs are not overly high but the technology being moved is costly. “What’s expensive is the security system, moving (computer) servers. A simple discussion with phone lines is not simple . . . everything goes through Town Hall to get to the building,” she explained.

“What kind of money are we talking about spending?” asked Coun. Sandra Lyon.

Kunz believes it will cost about $9,000 to move technology cables, plus another $20,000 to move files and furniture and another $10,000 to refurbish the space.

Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) just entered into a 10-year lease agreement with the town for the library space, the music room and one classroom at the former elementary school (pink) building for $10 a year. In the WCPS meeting, it was indicated that some repairs to the north side façade and improvements to the security system would be a proviso in the lease agreement as well.

Coun. Carla Prediger took issue with the 10-year lease and reallocating the entire $120,000 but Coun. Tim Falkiner said because of the health worries detailed in a recently released report, he did not feel it would benefit town staff to work in the building.

“I don’t think we would want to work in a building in January or February with the windows open,” stated Falkiner.

“I think there has to be some trust in this . . . we need to expedite this,” added Coun. Marc Yaworski.

Councillors Teri Underhill and Prediger voted against the request. Mayor Rick Bonnett was away during the meeting.

Town eager to move ahead with airport plans

Town council approved the airport development bylaw, which sees the creation of the Ponoka Airport Development Board.

Second and third reading of the bylaw was passed during the meeting and sets the stage for the future of the airport.

Underhill suggested the sooner the town can move forward with plans for the airport, the better. “We do have people interested in buying lots,” she stressed.

She has heard developers cannot take any action until the plan gets underway. She added that Ponoka County – the airport sits on county land – is eager to work with the town to develop the airport.

Tax forgiveness tabled

Council received two tax penalty forgiveness requests.

The first from Prairie Boys Truck Wash for $2,365 and the second from resident Sandra Dyck for $274.

In previous years, councillors have not been wont to forgive these requests but there was some question on how the town provided the notices.

“What were the actions from the town in regards to this?” asked Prediger.

For the truck wash, Kunz said notices were sent but the company’s bookkeeper and the company were unaware that the notices were not received. In a request to the town, the company states this was the first time this mistake occurred and taxes were paid as soon as possible, the hope was to have it forgiven.

Falkiner stated he usually wishes to forgive these types of requests but suggests council will be setting a precedent if these are forgiven.

Lyon feels the amount of the penalty shows the company pays a significant amount of taxes and forgiving the penalty may be worthwhile. As there was little information on how the town proceeded with the notices, Prediger requested the decision be tabled. Council approved the request.

Coun. Loanna Gulka was against tabling the decision.

Budget deliberations

Budget deliberations for town council and administration is set for two days: Friday, Nov. 12 and 13.