by Colin Smith
“Removing red tape in earnest” was Mayor Barry Turner’s description of Tuesday’s Town Council meeting, which dealt with several housekeeping items.
Council gave First Reading to Bylaw 6, which would repeal the Tax Certificates and False Alarm bylaws.
These older bylaws—the Tax Certificates Bylaw was passed in 1984—are now unnecessary, their substance having been incorporated in the Corporate Fees and Charges Bylaw enacted last year.
Council members also voted to rescind the Unpaid Costs and Charges Policy initiated in 2010.
The policy outlined the manner in which municipal costs and charges incurred by property owners can be added to their tax bills if unpaid.
However, as pointed out by Tax and Utility Clerk Doreen McKirdy, the matter is dealt with in the Municipal Government Act and so the policy results in duplication and the risk that it might come into conflict with the higher legislation.
MUNICIPAL PLANNING COMMISSION
A bylaw to repeal the Municipal Planning Commission Bylaw, and to remove references to the commission from two other bylaws also received first reading.
The move results from Council’s decision at its January 14 regular meeting to eliminate the Commission.
The Municipal Planning Commission was created in 2009 to consider discretionary-use development applications and major variances, but is judged to have resulted in duplication of process and undue delays in decision-making on development applications.
NON-RESIDENTIAL TAX POLICY
The bar has been lowered for developers to take advantage of Morinville’s Non-Residential Tax Rebate Policy.
Introduced in 2012 to encourage commercial and industrial land development, the policy allows for forgiveness of 50 per cent of municipal taxes construction results in the property assessment rising by a certain amount.
Up to now the requirement has been that assessments double before the Non-Residential Tax Rebate became available.
However Council agreed to drop the threshold to an additional 25% in assessment value, as recommended by the Administration.
From 2013 to 2019 a total of $103,748.72 in taxes has been forgiven, an average of about $15,000 per year.
AD CONTRACTS APPROVED WITH MORINVILLE NEWS AND THE FREE PRESS
Council has approved renewal of annual advertising contracts with Morinville News and the Morinville Free Press.
Council approved a contract of up to $10,000 for The Morinville News and up to $13,000 for The Morinville Free Press.
These are the Town’s only annual advertising contracts, although other news outlets are used for advertising when occasion requires.
The Administration was required by the Municipal Government Act to seek Council’s approval for the Morinville News contract because of Councillor Stephen Dafoe’s monetary interest in it, as the owner of the News.
Dafoe was not present for Tuesday’s meeting; however, he would have been required to leave Chambers for the discussion and vote under MGA rules.
QUALITY MANAGEMENT PLAN UPDATED
Morinville’s Quality Management Plan has been updated.
The Quality Management Plan, in accordance with the Alberta Safety Codes Council, details the safety services provided by the Town in connection with development. These include permit reviews, inspections requirements and expected time frames.
The updates were developed by the Administration follow an internal audit in 2019. Among them are consolidation of information from the previous plan and taking into account the Safety Codes Officers contracted/employed by the Town.