Section 265 of the Municipal Government Act allows a municipality to loan money to a non-profit organization. Sturgeon County leant the Morinville Municipal Seed Plant Co-Op Ltd. $150,000 in 2009, monies used for a number of upgrades to the plant, and monies that were to be repaid over a 10-year period at 2 per cent interest per year.
The local plant has had their annual loan repayment to the County forgiven in both 2010 and 2011, and once again came looking to have this year’s payment waived. In a letter to the County, dated May 14, the plant cited that “with the economic times as they are it is hard for us to be able to keep upgrading our plant and keep our prices competitive with other seed cleaning plants.” The letter went on to state the plant was looking to do some upgrades to its rail yard in 2012, and the waiving of the $16,700 loan payment would allow them to do that work.
The motion to grant the request was made by Councillor David Kluthe who said in talking to other municipalities there seems to be greater support for their plants than the County has shown the Morinville plant. “We seem to have forgotten the farmers,” Kluthe said in presenting his case.
Councillor Joe Milligan also expressed his support for the plant and its request, stating the forgiveness of the loan payment would help the plant with some more capital investment. “It does allow them to expand and be a more profitable facility,” Milligan said.
Although later voting for the motion, Councillor Karen Shaw expressed some concern and asked what the Morinville plant’s rates were compared to competitors in the industry. “Those are questions that we need to have,” Shaw said. “The grain farmers are doing quite well right now, and I really struggle with this one.”