M.D. of Lesser Slave River Council notebook

Assessment down by $4m in municipal district

March 27, 2019 meeting

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

We ran out of space in last week’s Leader. Below are the rest of the notes from the last M.D. council meeting of March.

Council heard assessment is down by $4 million in the M.D. That translates to about $50,000 in property taxes the M.D. won’t get this year that it collected in previous years.

Putting that in perspective, Winarski said the situation is “considerably worse in other jurisdictions.”

On a related note, Winarski spoke about the M.D.’s tax rates as compared to neighbouring municipalities. They aren’t the lowest, but they are close to it. On the residential side, LSR’s tax rate is lower than four of the five municipalities in the comparison (only Opportunity is lower). On the industrial side of things, only Woodlands County is lower (slightly).

“We still are a low-tax jurisdiction,” he said. “We kind of hold our own.”

And you’re doing a good job, said councillor Brad Pearson.

“We are not living beyond our means,” he said. “Our service levels are within reason.”

Greeting services
CAO Allan Winarski mentioned that the town and M.D. are working on a plan for tourism greeting services. There’s a bit of pressure to get that figured out, because as of last week its only tenant, Community Futures, has moved out. What’s being discussed, Winarski said, is how to get full value out of the seasonal employees – in other words find useful things for them to do between visits by passing motorists.

Water troubles at the complex
Bill Klassen reported on a problem with a water hose at the hall in Flatbush, leading to an unbudgeted expense. On top of that, he said, “the well may not be usable.”

Councillor Esau asked if a holding tank for water would be a solution. It could be, said Klassen, but would need its own building.

“It’s a project in itself,” he said. “It’s kind of been a money pit there.”

Poor response to summer jobs
Reporting on the latest from the Agricultural Service Board, councillor Robert Esau said the ASB has received no response to ads for summer jobs.
Commenting on this, CAO Winarski said: “I don’t know where the youth of the area are.”

“There aren’t any!” said Esau.

“If you know of kids needing a summer job,” said Winarski, “send them our way.”

Baby steps on housing
The new affordable housing complex for Lesser Slave Lake Regional Housing is proceeding by “baby steps,” councillor Pearson reported. This is the ‘sea can’ construction building that may (or may not) have 20 apartments and is to be located on 6th Ave. NE in Slave Lake. Picking up the tale, councillor Jeff Commins said the plan is to replace a dozen of the existing homes on that site.

In other housing news, the province has turned over a house in Smith to the RHA. The plan is to put it up for sale.

Bedbugs in books
Councillor Pearson had an alarming bit of news from the recent Peace Library System board meeting.

“One library had a bedbug issue,” he said. “They had to bring in a sniffing dog.”

What’s troubling about that is that thanks to the inter-library loan system, books with bugs in them may move around from one community library to another and from there into readers’ homes.

“So they’ve bought a book oven,” Pearson said. They can roast those books.”

Winarski: “So we should nuke our books before we read them?”

Pearson: “Or put them in the freezer. Heat or cold does it.”

However, the freezing might take longer.

“They go dormant,” Pearson said. “Tough little buggers.”

Watershed council
Councillor Brian Rosche said the Lesser Slave Watershed Council has received operational funding for the year and will be proceeding with a water monitoring program. It’ll be testing for fecal matter in the water at various points around the big lake and in its tributaries. Lesser Slave River, on the other hand, will not be tested.

“I think it should be,” Rosche said.

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