Morrin village council was hoping to recover some of the roughly $100,000 spent on emergency pump equipment installed in the previous year but as they heard at their regular meeting Feb. 16, it appears those hopes have been dashed. ECA Review/File
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Morrin village council was hoping to recover some of the roughly $100,000 spent on emergency pump equipment installed in the previous year but as they heard at their regular meeting Feb. 16, it appears those hopes have been dashed.

During the regular report of Public Works foreman Dave Benci council heard an update on the old emergency water pump motor and control panel, with “old” being the focus of the discussion: as stated at the Jan. 12 regular council meeting both pieces of equipment were installed last year and it was stated at the previous council meeting the total cost of that project was around $100,000.

Benci reported that efforts by a contractor and an engineering firm to find a buyer for the two surplus items weren’t successful. One fellow had voiced interest in the items but it turned out they wouldn’t meet his needs.

Benci suggested advertising the pump and electrical panel online and that his advice would be to price them at $4,000 for the set. Councillors unanimously agreed to have Benci try to sell the items online for that price.

New pump doing well

Benci reported the newly installed emergency water pump appears to be doing well, although a successful max flow test of 72 litres per second has yet to be completed.

During discussion of the new pump councillors mentioned some comments in the community that tap water didn’t look normal. 

Benci responded by saying that testing of the new pump may have disturbed some of the lines and while turbidity may be higher than normal potability is fine.

Water mystery

The foreman also reported a new water meter had been installed at the M.D. of Starland building and is operating well. He said he’s been monitoring it and the only problem came from the fact that the village had been trying to track down an unknown high water consumer, which they thought would be the M.D. office, but according to the new meter, that isn’t so.

Mayor Chris Hall suggested it could be the arena. Benci stated installing a meter on the arena is a possibility.

Illumination on highway

Mayor Hall gave an update on the village’s request to have highway lighting installed at the village’s primary access at Highway 27. He noted Alberta Transportation sent an email which stated it looks promising that the streetlights will be installed.

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Annette Plachner added that funding has not been identified for the project, but that as soon as Alberta Transportation has funding in place the village will be notified and the project will proceed.

Hall added that the project has been approved and that Alberta Transportation agrees the intersection is a safety issue.

Tax incentive

Councillors discussed an idea from a previous meeting, that being a tax incentive of some kind to attract new business to Morrin. 

Coun. Lorraine MacArthur asked which tax rate is higher, residential or commercial and Plachner responded commercial is higher.

Mayor Hall suggested a lower tax rate for up to three years for a new business that builds a new structure and has multiple employees but Plachner responded that she contacted Municipal Affairs and they advised that three years is too long; one year would be more appropriate.

Coun. MacArthur asked how existing businesses in Morrin would feel about new businesses getting a break. 

Plachner answered the break would only be for the construction of a new structure and she also clarified that the new business would still be taxed but could come to council to ask for a rebate under this bylaw.

Mayor Hall stated he wanted to point out Drumheller has a per square foot levy that gets applied to new businesses before they begin construction and he doesn’t want Morrin to do anything to scare away new businesses.

Councillors eventually passed a resolution to have Plachner bring a proposed tax incentive bylaw to a future meeting for discussion.

Public relations

Coun. MacArthur initially began a discussion on how the village handles public relations by noting she felt it would be a good move to have someone identified as the spokesperson for the Village of Morrin. 

She also asked if the village website is updated regularly and Plachner answered yes, although there are some issues with some links not opening properly. 

Plachner noted meeting notices, agendas, minutes, financial reports and budgets are available on the website.

MacArthur stated if the village instead posts information on social media, the public may not see it. 

Coun. M’Liss Edwards responded there’s not much the village can do about that.

MacArthur went on to say she doesn’t feel council business should be conducted on Facebook to which Mayor Hall said, “It’s not.” 

Edwards added she felt factual information should be posted on Facebook. 

MacArthur responded that if all of the village’s information is on a website, that’s where questions should be directed and Hall mused that perhaps that’s what councillors should do.

This item is reprinted with permission from East Central Alberta Review, Village of Morrin, Alberta. See article HERE.

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