Council supports call for large animal veterinarian

Grand Forks City Council briefs from March 29 regular meeting.

How Grand Forks City Council voted at its regular meeting Tuesday, March 29.

How Grand Forks City Council voted at its regular meeting Tuesday, March 29.

Grand Forks City Council had a rare Tuesday council meeting due to the Easter Monday holiday. Council approved some changes to fee for service agreements and also saw first three readings of the 2016-2020 Financial Plan.

Changes for fee for service agreements

Council approved changes to the fee for service agreements for the Boundary Museum, Boundary Regional Chamber of Commerce and Boundary District Arts Council. The changes mean that the requestors will be required to present their activities as a delegation on a quarterly basis rather than by quarterly written submissions to the city.

Financial plan change

Council voted unanimously to revise the 2016 financial plan to include $40,000 additional funding for a scope change to the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) disinfection project, to be funded from the land sales reserve.

The background information stated that the city was notified in August 2015 of being successful in securing funding for upgrading the WWTP from chlorination to ultra-violet disinfection through the Small Communities Fund.

The city signed an agreement with the provincial and federal governments for a one-third-each funding model in November 2015 and staff began preparations for the project. The city’s contribution to the project is $153,334 with the provincial and federal governments covering the remaining $306,666.

However, there were unexpected environmental expenses required by the Ministry of Environment, resulting from changes in federal legislation related to wastewater: the city must complete an Environmental Impact Study (EIS); the city must obtain approval to bypass the existing chlorination process during construction; and data collection and site visit.

The fee for Urban Systems to complete the first two items would be $32,500 plus GST while the third is estimated. Staff is requesting an additional $40,000 for this capital project to cover the extra costs.

Veterinary service letter

The City of Grand Forks submitted a letter of support to Community Futures Boundary (CFB) regarding the recruitment of a large animal veterinary service for the region. CFB is working with the Boundary Horse Association to formulate a recruitment plan for attracting a large animal veterinary service for the region. The area has been without a mixed animal veterinarian since Dr. Ruth Sims left last year for personal reasons.

The letter from Mayor Frank Konrad states, in part: “The Boundary region has a growing agriculture sector that is currently without access to a much needed large veterinary service. In the past, the area has successfully supported a large animal vet clinic that employed two to three full-time staff and served the Boundary region. On behalf of the City of Grand Forks, we invited you to consider locating your veterinary service in the Boundary.”

Financial plan given first three readings

After three public consultations and a presentation at the Committee of the Whole meeting on March 14, the 2016-2020 Financial Plan passed the first three readings at the March 29 regular council meeting.

The background information states that the 2016-2020 Financial Plan is tied directly to the Asset Management Financial Policy passed by counil in January 2016. The Asset Management Financial Policy provides a framework for financial decision-making and will guide the city in funding infrastructure renewal.

The goal of the policy is to annually fund, by way of transfer to the infrastructure reserves, 50 per cent of the $3.85 million recommended yearly infrastructure investment recommended by engineers.

This year’s financial plan will be the first year of three years to reach this annual contribution goal. Council has determined to reach this goal using a balanced approach. Therefore, contributions to reserves will come from a combination of a decrease in expenses and an increase in user fees and taxes.

In 2016, there will be no money drawn from surplus for operations and $986,419 transferred into capital reserves.

Sources of revenue for the city include: 40.94 per cent from fees and charges; 28.35 per cent from property taxes, grants-in-lieu and franchise fees; 15.94 per cent user levies; 13.35 per cent grants and other; and 1.90 per cent parcel taxes.

The city will receive the revised assessment roll for 2016 in April and will set the property tax rates based on the assessment before May 15, 2016. The 2016 distribution of property tax rates amongst all the property classifications will not be known until then.

The distribution for 2015 included: Residential – 49.9593 per cent; Major industry – 27.1390 per cent; Business and other – 20.0228 per cent; Utility – 1.4968 per cent; Light industry – 1.3574 per cent; Farm – 0.0156 per cent; and Recreation/Non-profit – 0.0091 per cent.

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