After a two-hour in camera discussion last week with Slave Lake Mayor Tyler Warman, M.D. council voted to approve amended versions of the two major cost-sharing agreements between the M.D. and the town.
“We don’t have to look at it again for five years!” said reeve Murray Kerik, clearly relieved and delighted to have it over and done with.
The agreements expired some time ago, and became a bone of contention between the two municipalities. The M.D. decided it would pay less on its 2016 invoices for fire services and its share of the cost of running Slave Lake rec facilities. This happened after some scrutiny of the particulars turned up items that at least some councillors felt the M.D. shouldn’t be responsible for. There were also some issues with how the calculations were done when it came to allocating costs for fire call-outs.
The town’s reaction to being paid a few hundred thousand less than it was expecting was perhaps predictable. Council threatened to cut off support for M.D. fire halls if the invoices weren’t paid in full. And more.
The M.D. then backed down from its position on the 2016 invoices and paid up. However, there were still issues to be worked out on what the new agreements would look like. Following the October elections, both councils and administration teams bore down hard and talked things over with the result that now, “life is good in the valley” as Kerik put it.
Kerik also said (in a subsequent email to The Leader), that there are “no clear winners or losers.”
The Fire Services Agreement cost-share formula has changed. It’s now a 50/50 split, with the M.D. agreeing to contribute $62,500 per year to the cost of Hall #1. This was one of the items in dispute over the past few months.
“The big difference in the fire agreement is the fact that we have moved away from a percentage based on call-outs to a true partnership based on a fifty-fifty cost and revenue sharing,” said Kerik. “In order to enable this, the M.D. has agreed to provide a capital payment to the (Town of Slave Lake) each year.”
Town council has yet to ratify the new agreements; that should happen this week. The Leader will run a fuller story after that happens.
The agreements run for five years.