M.D. of Lesser Slave River Council notebook

March 27, 2024 meeting

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Emergency management appointments

Per the M.D.’s Emergency Management Bylaw, council must appoint a director and a deputy director of emergency management. Accordingly, council appointed the recommended candidates.

In the case of director of emergency management, regional fire chief Alex Pavcek gets the job. Appointed as his deputy is CAO Barry Kolenosky, with Brian Vance and Rudolf Liebenberg as alternates.

Council further moved that the two new appointees be invited to a committee of the whole meeting of council to discuss emergency management.

The report in council’s agenda package included two contact lists. One is for the M.D.’s emergency command centre (ECC). It has the above appointees at the top; below them are ECC risk management officer, liaison officer, information officer(s), section coordinators, planning section coordinators, logistics, finance, emergency social services and finally, those who will be assigned to look after livestock issues. All are M.D. employees.

The other contact list is (or appears to be) the general M.D. one, divided by department. Notably missing in the hierarchy is an ‘operational director’ for the field services department.

Operating budget passes

The M.D.’s operating budget for 2024 is $28,338,187. Council approved that figure – and the various lesser figures that make it up, with little or no discussion.

Of that number, $23,722,000 is expected to come from taxes. A further $2 million (roughly) is estimated from user fees and sale of goods. Lesser amounts on the revenue side include $934,235 in government transfers, $775,487 in transfers from M.D. reserves and $601,947 in investment income.

This year’s budget is 4.88 per cent higher ($1,327,000) than the 2023 budget.

Capital budget

Also approved was the 2024 capital budget. It’s a relatively modest figure of $4,937,964, but when you combine it with the over $7 million in budgeted projects carried over from previous years, it’s not so small after all.

Speaking of that $7,533,732 ‘carry-forward’ amount, council was asked to approve an addition of $531,191 for ‘previous projects.’ One of these would be the re-routing of the Old Smith Highway – a project that has been in the works for many years.

Of the money for new projects, $1,303,250 is to come from grants, $3,581,326 from M.D. reserves and $453,488 from tax revenues.

A list of the new projects (or the old ones, for that matter) was not included in the report in council’s agenda package. A search of the M.D. website produced similar results.

Ten-year capital plan

Another document – not provided to The Leader at the meeting or available on the M.D. website – is the 10-year capital plan. It was on the agenda for review and discussion.

Councillor Lana Spencer had a couple of comments. The price estimated for a new fire hall at Smith seems too high, she said. Same goes for a figure attached to a future ‘broadband’ project.

“We have to look at it again,” she said.

We can change it as we go, said Reeve Kerik.

I thought that’s what we’re doing, said Spencer.

Council was asked to accept the report as presented, which they did.

The numbers can change, observed Councillor Pearson, but not the intent.

The plan will come back to council for suggestions from time to time.

Tax-rate bylaw passes

Council made short work of the tax-rate bylaw, giving it all three readings, thereby setting in motion the machinery that will result in M.D. property owners getting their tax notices.

The bylaw calls for $23,722,573 to be levied in 2024. Of that, $18,920,501 is from municipal property taxes, $4,053,676 is school taxes, and a further $627,947 is seniors foundation requisitions.

The mill rates designed to collect the above amounts were part of the bylaw. There are five of these, for different classes of property. The residential class mill rate, for example, is 2.5369. This number is multiplied by the assessed property value to come up with the individual tax bill.

The mill rate for non-residential/commercial/industrial and linear property is 12.6842.

Councillor Spencer wanted to know if those two figures meet the provincially-mandated 5:1 ratio. They do, she was advised.

At that, Councillor Pearson whipped out his calculator and advised that the ratio is actually 4.9999 to one.

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