By-election unlikely for the M.D.

Lobby against assessment change continues

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

It looks as if the M.D. of Lesser Slave River will not hold a by-election to replace Brian Rosche. Rosche’s passing last month left a vacancy, but according to the rules, council can carry on with six members for what remains of the current term.

Reeve Murray Kerik, reached last week on his French Creek farm, said the decision has to wait until the next council meeting, which is Sept. 12.

“It looks like we’re leaning that way,” he said. “By the time we got a new guy in there, there would only be a few months left and then we’d be into the next election season.”

The rules in the Municipal Government Act say within 18 months of an election councils can decide whether to have a by-election or not. Having an even-number of councillors could lead to problems (I.e. a lot of tie votes), but Kerik does not foresee such for this council.

“There are no big contentious issues. Everyone rides for the brand.”

Actually there is a big contentious issue, but not within council. It’s the proposed change in the property value assessment model that would see rural municipalities lose large chunks of tax from oil companies. Councillors are all for lobbying hard against that idea, which is estimated to cost the M.D. dearly.

“We haven’t backed off on this one,” said Kerik. “It’s a war cry.”

Kerik said he and the leaders of some other municipalities were due to meet with Finance Minister Travis Toews and Minister of Municipal Affairs Kaycee Madu in Valleyview, but then got word it had been canceled. A day or two later came the news Madu’s job had changed and Tracy Allard of Grande Prairie will be in charge of Municipal Affairs. It’s a hot portfolio at the moment.

In the meantime, Kerik said council was meeting on Friday (Aug. 28) with Glenn van Dijken, the MLA to let him know how they feel.

How they feel is tax breaks to help a few large companies is a very bad idea, especially considering how it is likely to affect municipal operations and taxpayers.

“Just so (a certain oil company president) can buy more islands in the Caribbean?” said Kerik. “I don’t think so!”

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