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REPORTING · 26th February 2011
Walter McFarlane
44,000 more needed for animal shelter? What streets and sidewalks are scheduled for repairs? Should Council simply let the budget pass as is? What are the Snow Clearing Numbers? Budget 2011 Continues

Budget continued on Friday, February 25th. All Councillors were present and accounted for. The meeting was called to order shortly after 9:00.

Tim Glieg took a seat and began to go through the engineering department explaining the department and what it does. He reviewed the 2010 projects before moving onto 2011. The upper part of Lahakus Boulevard and Turney are up for construction. Gyrfalcon is going to be milled and paved.

The walkways program is scheduled to walkways in the Whitesail Neighbourhood as well as Tamitik and KIR. In addition, the walkway between Gander and Gannet will be removed. Out of 28 surrounding lots, 2 people use the walkway, 10 have drainage problem and all 21 people who responded want it removed.

Engineering plans on relocating the fire hydrant on Columbia so they could extend the walkway. Council began discussing whether they want to put a cross walk in there. Administration advised not to.

“These traffic issues, should be resolved on a technical basis, not a political basis. A political request does not legitimise the safety and technical aspects. And if you turn around and put in a crosswalk, where are we getting sued,” said Hall. “When you get a demand for a crosswalk.”

Hall explained these studies are done all over the Western World. Scott pointed out a cross walk would be the only crosswalk into strawberry meadows. Children have to cross an arterial road.

“It’s one crosswalk to connect one neighbourhood so those children can cross safely to go to school. Every other neighbourhood in Kitimat has a crosswalk to ensure the safety of the Children going to school,” said Scott.

Hall argued studies in safety. Feldhoff argued to remove all the sidewalks from Kititmat if this is the issue. Crosswalk lights are going to be updated at St. Anthony’s.

The sanitary sewer lining project continues in Service Centre where areas of the older lining have failed. The SCADA system is going to be completed. A lift station is going to be constructed on Smith Street, Yukon’s Lift Station needs to be upgraded. Tamitik’s roof membrane needs replacement.

Glieg explained for snow clearing, the budget was under spent in 2010. The snowfall of significance being the week in January. He said on average, they spend 60% including damage repairs.

He showed how snow clearing could vary over a years. For 2010, they budgeted $1.4 million and have spent just over 1 million. Engineering have requested a slightly higher amount for 2011.

However, it does not help the budget that the axle in one of the districts snow blowers is broken and has turned out to be obsolete. Feldhoff wanted to know if they could get more out of the snow clearng equipment. Glieg reminded him the axels were obsolete, they could only find more in North America. The machines are 27-28 years old.

As Glieg presented his budget, Scott suggested if there is another dry summer, could they move money from grass cutting into capital. Glieg explained they cannot move money around this way as the money is meant to keep people employed. They assigned the extra workers to road maintenance.

After a discussion on the cemetery, Council broke for lunch. Glieg still had capital to cover. The meeting reconviened at 1:05. Among the capital requests were the large vehicles. The snow blowers, one of which broke an axel, came up for discussion. Both blowers have problems as both have cracked frames. The frames were discovered in the last month.

Council got more information on the Museum Building Exterior study. Hall pointed out it would more costly to piece it together over time then do it all at once. Gottschling stated over the 9 years he has been on Council, they keep putting off fixes until tomorrow hoping for a better day and next year, they will have less money to work with again.

Other items included the Library walkway canopy, the Haisla Overlay, a traffic controller upgrade and Haisla bridge painting. On the latter three items, Monaghan mentioned if they are able to get the ferry, Kitimat is not at the end of the road and Haisla becomes a part of the highway.

Christmas decorations were brought up next followed by the Wakashan storm sewer. One item for the RCMP was the generator which kicks in during power failures. The Tamitik roof was included and Haisla Bridge Inspection.

The new animal shelters still requires surface improvements at the well head, exterior lights at the rear of the building, the covered area at the back of the building requires modifications and certified, the roof needs to be extended to avoid snow clearing, a compound fence for an enclosed area, upgrades to the cat area and additional money for the items council gave prebudget approval for. The total list required around $44,000

With the end of the Engineering presentation, Feldhoff wanted to discuss the reserves. With all the work the Council had done over the last day and a half, the increase was 16.16% or $165 per household. Gottschling pointed out if home owner grant is $200, they would get a saving of $35 while maintaining all the services and buildings in Kitimat.

Gottschling suggested this was the last year they were going to have a large sum from Eurocan and there are a lot of issues. They are trying to be frugal and prudent with the spending so they can maintain the infrastructure of the community. Hall pointed out Eurocan was appealing their assessment. However, Council continued onwards and into their reserves.

Council moved into Balancing. Gottschling made a motion to replacing the ladder truck with a smaller truck, a Quint rather then a new aerial truck saving $500,000, which Fire Chief John Klie had requested the previous day. Feldhoff would sooner repair the truck and get a 5-10 year extension as the Quint would not be affective as a ladder truck. Goffinet asked Klie what would serve the interests better. Klie said he would sooner buy the Quint then repair the truck. The motion was carried,

Feldhoff motioned $15,000 for window repair in the fire hall rather then the $85,000. Gottschling pointed out if they let their infrastructure deteriorate, the more the next councils will have to spend. Klie suggested just doing the flashing on the building. It was carried.

Feldhoff also put a motion to pull the money for the Chief’s truck out of the Engineering departments large vehicle reserve. Halyk suggested fewer bells and whistles. Klie explained the vehicle. The motion was to put $100,000 into the Fire Department’s reserve and then take $50,000 to buy the truck.

The public safety cameras came up. Gottschling motioned to keep them and fulfill their request to the public. Gottschling pointed out they reduced their police force by two and reassure the community they are safe. Halyk said graffiti, which is what started this debate, is no longer as big a concern. The motion was called and the cameras were removed.

Halyk said they need to get the animal shelter up and running and made a motion to give the shelter the last money it needs. Scott pointed out one number had been left out because they are still waiting for a price on the covered area overhang modifications. Gottschling pointed out they could deal with this in the upcoming budget. Council went through them one at a time and were all passed.

The $30,000 request for Retirement Kitimat came up. Halyk said the money could be better spent with a targeted program that deals with a large part rather then just the seniors. He did not think it was a good way to spend their money. Scott explained the background of the group and its successes. The $30,000 passed.

They had reached adjournment and tempers were running hot. Monaghan calculated they have five hours of work left and suggested they continue at a later date. Hall said they needed another day. The budget meeting reconvenes Saturday Morning at nine.