By Rob Vogt, Local Press Writer
The arena, stormwater management, sewer lines, pathway, water treatment plant upgrades and curling club upgrades are some of the capital projects being undertaken by the Town of Claresholm.
The town held an open house at the Bridges at Claresholm Golf Club attracting more than 100 people on April 11, to discuss the recently approved 2018 municipal budget and the proposed multi-use community building.
Blair Bullock, the town’s director of corporate services, outlined highlights of the capital budget, operating budget, and mill rates, used to calculate taxes.
The Claresholm Arena ice floor surface and boards project has started.
The arena has outlived its projected useful life by many years and has been at risk of failing.
The total cost is about $780,000, with a projected $625,000 coming from grants and community donations due to the Claresholm Minor Hockey Association, and many local businesses and organizations.
The Municipal District of Willow Creek has also provided $144,000.
A stormwater pond system has been developed behind the acreages and water treatment plant on the southwest side of town and the ditch enhanced along Eighth Street.
There is still significant work to complete which will be under way this year.
The total cost is $4.4 million, fully grant funded.
Phase 2 of this project, which the town has applied for grants to complete, will address and upgrade the outflow and drainage corridor from Centennial Park, across Highway 520 and through the golf course.
These projects will significantly reduce the risk of another large flood event such as the one in 2014.
The Kin clubs of Claresholm and the Town of Claresholm have collaborated on improving and expanding the town’s pathways.
A total of $230,000 has been committed in grants and town funding, with locations not confirmed until construction prices are obtained.
The town’s sewer trunk main, which starts at the airport and goes to the lagoons, needs to be enlarged and upgraded.
This is the only line to the sewage lagoons. There is currently a bottleneck in the system where two lines where two lines of the same size converge into this line. This project will upgrade the size and material of the line.
The cost is $1.14 million, to come from reserves, provincial grants and $400,000 in debt. That debt will be funded from utility rates not taxes, so it will not affect property taxes.
Water treatment plant
A total of $85,000 will be used to upgrade the water treatment plant’s computer system which has outlived its intended life. A grant has been applied for to cover half the cost.
Curling club plant
A total of $110,000 will be used to replace the curling club’s brine chiller, which is beyond its expected life.
A total of $82,500 is anticipated through grants and community donations due to the Claresholm Curling Club.
The town will begin the process of developing the annexed lands to the east, starting with determining how to structure development, how to fund it, and what types of businesses to attract.
A provincial grant has been received to fund a portion of this project.
The town has undertaken several initiatives to reduce operational costs such as saving 15,000 pages of paper by town council going paperless for meetings using ipads; electronic pay stubs for staff; electronic stubs and payments for vendors and suppliers; and incentives for residents to go to electronic billing.
Revenues and expenses
By law, the town has to run a balanced budget.
This year it has $8.5 million in expenses and $7 million in revenue. The difference is due primarily to the amortization of infrastructure, which must be accounted for but is not funded, leaving a deficit on paper only.
The 2018 mill rates have not been approved yet, but first reading of the three required, has been given. There will be significant reductions in non-residential and vacant residential mill rates, both in an effort to promote growth and development.
The residential mill rate is set to remain nearly the same as last year with just less than a one per cent increase overall and a 1.4 per cent increase to the municipal portion.
A 2017 comparison to the mill rates of other towns about the same size as Claresholm shows Fort Macleod, Stavely and High River being lower but not by much.
Cardston, Pincher Creek, Coaldale, Vulcan and Nanton are all higher, most significantly so.