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Lively open house as MD of Willow Creek opens its doors

cynthia vizzutti

MD of Willow Creek chief administrative officer Cynthia Vizzutti at the open house on Wednesday.

LAWRENCE GLEASON – GAZETTE CONTRIBUTOR
In the past two decades the annual open house at the MD of Willow Creek has attracted as few as six and as many as 31 people, so 14 ratepayers showing up March 15 to hear each of the department’s report is good attendance.
Director of finance Johanne Hannas reported a budget surplus for 2016 of $1,064,482.
Revenues totalled $13,078,390, which was $256,605 lower than expected for the year, however the municipality spent $581,996 less for disaster recovery, almost $20,000 less on elected officials, about $25,000 less on emergency services and bylaw enforcement and about $30,000 less than budgeted for information technology.
Transportation was the biggest budget cost at $5.2-million, but that came under budget as well, with the expected expenditure at $5.68-million.
“All these departments were under budget,” Hannas said. “We were pretty good with all our costs.”
In addition, two staff members had left to go back to school and three maternity leave positions were not filled.
“I will say this, our MD staff are very frugal,” Reeve Earl Hemmaway said.
Chief administrative officer Cynthia Vizzutti said 68 per cent of revenue comes from linear taxation, “from electric power and pipeline,” while 22 per cent “are paid by houses”and 11 per cent comes from farmland.
“We have been very lucky financially that we have had some good years in oil and gas and electric power and pipeline,” Vizzutti said. “It has helped keep our mill rate to one of the lowest in Alberta.”
Agricultural fieldman Carla Preachuck reported that 250 kilometres of roadways have been treated with Kovar to knock back grasses from roadways.
Forecasts are for high grasshopper populations in this region, and more will be known about that by May and June.
Public Works superintendent Roy Johnson reported 420 kilometres of roads were gravelled and 18 kilometres were oiled. Calcium chloride was applied to 26 miles of road (41 kilometres) for dust control.
New equipment purchases for the public works department this year included two graders, a rotomixer, and a Kenworth tractor.
Travis Coleman, manager of emergency services, said the municipality’s workplace is audited for safety every three years and this was one of those years, the audit conducted by Taber.
The MD of Willow Creek scored 86 per cent on its safety program, 92 per cent on organization and commitment, and 75 per cent on hazard identification.
The municipality is holding off on buying special radios that would tie all its emergency services department to the new Alberta First Responders Radio Communications System, a $250-million province-wide dispatch system being put in place.
Willow Creek is waiting until issues with that are sorted out. Work has been done with 13 other municipalities to bulk-buy those radios and research is being conducted to determine what radio would be the best.
“That is very preliminary,” Coleman said. “We may have more information for you next year at this time.”
Coleman also reported the emergency services department dealt with a total of 403 calls in 2016, including 140 medical calls, 110 motor vehicle collisions, 71 outside fires and 14 structure fires.
The community peace officers dealt with 161 complaint reports last year.
Twelve firefighters fought fire in Fort McMurray during the wildfire which started May 1.
“We were one of the first crews up there,” Coleman said. “Everyone did an awesome job.”
Planning and development manager Cindy Chisholm said a pubic hearing will be announced “in the next couple of months” for the drafts of the new municipal development plan and land use by-laws so they can be reviewed by ratepayers.
Chisholm also reported the number of subdivisions applied for last year was the lowest number, 17, since 2011 when 15 such applications came to the municipality. Twenty-eight subdivisions were applied for in 2010 and 2015.
Answering a question on the requisition for the new Fort Macleod senior’s lodge, Vizzutti answered that it was out of the MD of Willow Creek’s hands as to what is collected as it is a provincial directive.
“We cannot not pay it,” Vizzutti said.
On a question on how fuel is tendered Vizzutti answered council has not asked her to tender that this year.
“It is not tendered out every year, it is tendered out for a length of time,” Vizzutti said.
Vizzutti added Co-op presently has the contract to supply fuel and the municipality is satisfied with the price.
On top of that the municipality received $19,000 in fuel rebates this year and deliverability has been excellent.
“We are also required to buy 100 per cent Canadian fuel,” said Vizzutti, adding the Co-op provides that.

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