By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville Town Council had a heavy agenda for their first official meeting after the summer recess. Below are the highlights of what was covered at the Aug. 27 meeting.
Gazebo dedicated to late mayor’s memory
The gazebo in St. Jean Baptiste Park will serve as a permanent memorial for Mayor Paul Krauskopf. Council voted unanimously Aug. 28 on a motion from Councillor Sheldon Fingler to dedicate the gazebo to Krauskopf’s memory. The gazebo will be enhanced with the addition of two park benches or appropriate equivalent.
“We all know Paul was involved in a lot of things for many, many years,” said Councillor David Pattison in support of Fingler’s motion.
Mayor Boddez shared Pattison’s sentiments. “Mayor Krauskopf, and Councillor Krauskopf before that, has dedicated his life to serving this community,” he said. “He had a big heart, had an ear to the ground, and listened to people. He did that on a daily basis and brought back good information to Council to make decisions.”
The mayor said the dedication was well deserved and he was certain the community would have something meaningful to remember the late mayor by.
Council gets peek at Town’s new website
Three years after Council initially budgeted for a new website, the project is nearing completion. Council had a demonstration Aug. 27 from the Town’s Communication’s Department and learned the site will launch Sept. 9.
Administration said the website is considerably different from what the Town has had in the past. Communications officer Deb Pare said the new website is more visually appealing than its predecessor and is compatible with all user formats, including mobile devices. The site will resize and scale to whatever browser the user is viewing it with.
The Town believes the new user-friendly layout will let residents access the various Town departments, view a calendar of community events or even register for Town programs online.
“We’ve really tried to think of the resident coming in,” Pare said, adding the website is fully searchable, allowing ratepayers to find diverse information, including garbage schedules and bylaw information.
Pare said the website will have video, social media access, and the opportunity for residents to look at and pay their Town bills online. Administration says the addition of E-Services will offer a web-enabled self-service for property taxes, utility accounts, and registration to receive utility bills online.
The Town is hoping to have a quarter of all residents registered for online billing in the first year and it is estimated each online bill registration will save the Town considerably.
Expansions to the website will include plans to add a business directory and the ability to do dog licensing online by 2014.
Town does not wave goodbye to taxes
Council received requests from three Morinville property owners to have the late penalty the Town levies on property tax accounts that are not paid by the June 30 deadline. The Town of Morinville levies a 13 per cent penalty for accounts that are not paid by June 30 and an additional 15 per cent if still not paid by Dec. 31.
One of those who hit with a late penalty was Morinville resident Neil McDougal. The pensioner made a presentation to Council Aug. 27 and said he did not receive the tax bill in the mail. “I have an impeccable record of paying my bills,” McDougal told Council, adding he uses the KISS principle to pay his bills: Open the mail. Pay the bill. The resident said he also did not receive an Epcor bill around the same time.
McDougal said he paid the tax bill with penalty right away once he received the late notification. He finds the penalty a hardship. “I’m trying to pull on your heart strings and ask for some leniency,” he said. “I’m a pensioner and don’t have any other income.”
Councillor David Pattison said he did not want to sound harsh, but argued that bill due dates are well known. “June 30th is the deadline and if you paid taxes previously [you know] that’s when they are due,” Pattison said, adding it does tug on the heartstrings, but it is key that the Town’s policy and enforcement is consistent.
In discussing another of the three ratepayer’s accounts, Councillor Nicole Boutestein said people should be well aware taxes are due on June 30 each year. “What you do for one, you have to do for all,” Boutestein said. “We made Mr. McDougal pay it. We should do that for all.”
Council deferred one of the tax role mattersbefore them, as the property owner did not attend Tuesday night’s Council meeting. The remaining request was denied as the property owner was at Tuesday night’s meeting, but left prior to the discussion.
Committee posts filled
The passing of Mayor Paul Krauskopf on June 30 left not only his mayoral seat vacant but also his seat on the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDDB), Capital Region Board (CRB), CRB Affordable Housing Committee, and Sturgeon Foundation.
The latter three committees and boards have alternate members of Council to take over those posts; however, the SDDB requires two members of Council to sit on the board.
Council was given the task of selecting Deputy Mayor Lisa Holmes or Councillor David Pattison to fill the late mayor’s seat on the SDDB as they were the only two eligible to sit on the board.
Councillors appointed Pattison to the SDBB. Pattison will remain on that board until the newly elected Council holds its organizational meeting Oct. 27 after the new Council is sworn in.