Council nixes recommendation to replace MCCC boiler with tax increase

by Colin Smith

Replacing the boiler at the Morinville Community and Culture Centre (MCCC) is going to cost the town $150,000.

That money will come out of reserves rather than from an increase in 2023 property taxes, as result of a split vote at the regular meeting of council last Tuesday.

The boiler that heats the MCCC failed in the middle of February and a temporary boiler system had to be rented at a cost of more than $30,000 to keep the building functional and staff workstations accessible, as well as avoid further building damage during a period of -30 lows.

Council heard from Infrastructure Services Manager Jordan Betteridge that during that time, town employees and HVAC contractors tried unsuccessfully to repair the unit.

The problem is that the European manufacturer of the boiler is no longer in business, and North American resellers have said that parts are no longer available for the brand.

“Due to the lack of parts, the boiler is no longer repairable or serviceable,” Betteridge said in his report to council. “The Town of Morinville needs to replace the entire boiler unit with a new model.”

The town has begun the design of the new boiler system, with engineering drawings to cost $10,000 and supply and installation an estimated $140,000 to make up the total.

Administration recommended that the new boiler system be funded by adding $150,000 to the tax revenue requirement of $11,605,193 million established in the 2023 budget.

Financial Services Manager Travis Nosko said that would result in a 1.5% increase to this year’s property tax, which wouldn’t have a significant dollars and cents impact on the average homeowner because it would be spread over the entire tax base.

The other option put forward was to take the money from the town reserves, which are considered to be in a poor state, with the operating reserve in a deficit position. When it adopted the 2023 operating budget council also passed a motion that subsequent budgets include a provision for annual transfers of $300,000 to go toward the reserves.

“With our reserves in the state they are in, we don’t have the sort of safety net rainy day funds that, in an ideal world, we could lean on in times like this,” said Nosko, with the available reserves dedicated to future capital projects and even those running down.

“That’s why we believe the best course of action is to increase our revenue slightly for 2023 to cover this cost.”

Council declined to accept the administration recommendation, instead passing a motion by Councillor Rebecca Balanko that the $150,000 for replacing the boiler be funded from reserves.

“I feel like we’re really going to hurt ourselves by going back and asking for this,” she said.  “I feel like the well is dry in lots of places, and I just can’t move forward.”

Councillor Ray White said, “It looks like we’re adding on to something we already told everybody about. Right now, I think tacking on extra taxes to residents of this community is the wrong thing to do.”

Speaking against the motion, Councillor Maurice St. Denis stated he could not support it because borrowing against the reserves would cut across what he felt was the need to invest more into them.

The vote on the motion was 4-2, with Deputy Mayor Scott Richardson, Councillors Balanko, Dafoe and White in favour of funding from reserves, and Councillors Anheliger and St. Denis opposed. Mayor Simon Boersma was not present at the meeting.

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  1. We’ll it looks like we ardd we buying Canadian now that the foreign unit failed, there goes the “ deal” $$

    • That building should have not built in the first place. Along with the recreational center. TAXES THROUGH THE ROOF. FUCK MORINVILLE ADMISTRATION.

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