COUNCIL NOTES: Public Works reports backlog of work due to manpower, time constraints

Council notes from the regular meeting scheduled Jan. 25. Councillor Len Heppner and CAO Bob Lafleur were not present for this meeting.

  • Feb. 1, 2011 7:00 a.m.

Council notes from the regular meeting scheduled Jan. 25. Councillor Len Heppner and CAO Bob Lafleur were not present for this meeting.

Public Works manager Mike Pedersen presented a review of public works duties in the 2010 year, but due to the amount of grant projects and time constraints, many projects were put on the side.

In his report, Pedersen listed more than 10 large extra grant projects they were associated with, but did state, “It has come at a cost.”

“Due to time restrictions, this year the following regularly scheduled activities have been left incomplete or untouched,” he added.

Ditching has been done this year, no road inspections and repairs, no sidewalk inspection in the fall, no airport brushing and other some other minor projects were not done.

This list of incomplete tasks also includes a “cross connection control” which Pedersen states is a provincial requirement of the village permit to operate the domestic water system.

“This program is extremely important, as it addresses back-flow prevention and contamination of the domestic water system, in order to protect the public,” he said. “It is imperative that we get back on track with the administration and implementation of this program and that a budget is established for 2011.”

In response to this, council has agreed to focus on the cross connection control, as well as taking into consideration the extra hours and possible manpower it would need to handle the extra projects these grants bring in.

Mayor Hamling said it’s important to point out the amount of projects they have been handling, which reflects why there have been other projects left behind because of it.

“I think that in the future when we’re looking at projects, we have to take into consideration how imperative those things are and whether we have to hire extra staff or whether can even take on another project,” she said.

Chief Officer’s Vehicle policy accepted

After a few weeks of presentations and deliberation, council has finally accepted the volunteer fire departments Chief Officers’ Vehicle policy.

This would see the vehicle, formally called the Command Vehicle, be used as a multi-purpose transport for management duties, operational duties as well as transport for out of town training for volunteers.

In case of an emergency, this vehicle can be used by the Fire Chief or other Officers as a command vehicle.

Fire Chief Terry Warren and Deputy Chief Reg Gustafson drafted this policy for council after they questioned whether or not taxpayers should be paying for this vehicle.

Warren stated at the meeting of Jan. 11 that this vehicle is cheaper on the taxpayer than having to pay for other forms of transportation, such as car rentals when they need to go for out of town training.

Coun. Cam Leitch said the policy looks fine, but they should still look at whether or not they need that vehicle.

Mayor Karen Hamling said it’s a good thing to put into policy, and they will be putting in a recommendation to see if they really need this type of vehicle in the future.

Council spreads out tax increase for water and sewer rates

Village council agreed to add another year to their water and sewer rates tax increase, making the rates rise 8.5 per cent each year until 2013, rather than having a 12 per cent increase each year into 2012.

The decision came after treasurer Don Willems presented the two options to council, explaining the village can hold off for another year to ease the burden on the tax payer for a little longer.

The overall water and sewer tax hike will see an increase by 35 per cent from the 2009 rates. Willems said this rate was chosen after public works staff reported the taxes they received in 2009 were very low in supporting the existing infrastructure and operating costs.

“Thirty-five per cent simply brings it up to a more reasonable level,” he said during the meeting.

Coun. Hughes mentioned he was fine with the rates, but in the long run he would like to get a more accurate idea of what a resident actually uses in terms of water, such as installing water meters in existing homes.

Council agreed with the extension in a special meeting Friday, Jan. 28.

Council to enforce late business fees

Treasurer Don Willems also made another presentation to council on late business license fees showing an overdue amount of $3,900 in total for about 48 businesses in Nakusp. There was also another overdue amount of $4,500 from previous years.

“Arrears continue to grow,” he said. “Until now, there’s been no enforcement of that.”

He asked council for direction on how to enforce the late fees.

“Should we simply write them off and start fresh, or take action to collect arrears which is about $8,000 total,” he asked.

Coun. Mueller said she would like to know for sure that everybody was billed, because in her case for the past four years, she has had to show up twice to the village office to ask for an invoice.

“I was told the system wasn’t reliable from the old treasurer,” Mueller said. “So I’m weary about sending a collection agency after somebody when maybe they haven’t been sent an invoice.”

In the end, village council agreed to send out the 2011 billing which showed the 2010 outstanding costs. This would mean businesses with arrears before 2010 would not have to pay those fees.

Hamling said if it were not for the inconsistent billing, she would be willing to go back before 2010. But in this instance, she doesn’t want to penalize people who may have not even been billed.