Vermilion Town Council held its regular meeting on April 18, with a delegation regarding the audit.
Donald Isaman noted highlights from the 2022 audit and said, “I think the town has now acquired and gotten staff that is learning the municipal environment and that experience is starting to come around.”
He noted the Town received approximately $342,000 last year from other governments, and that administration was down approximately $210,000.
Councillor Joshua Rayment will be the upcoming Deputy Mayor for May and June.
CAO Kevin Lucas read a proposal for the Northern Lights Library System (NLLS) 2023 Levy. Concerns still lingered that the information given from NLLS through Municipal Affairs showed that Vermilion had a population of 4,500 people while other statistics showed they had just over 3,900 and the payments were estimated on a per capita basis.
Councillor Pulyk said, “I support the library 100 per cent. I support providing money to NLLS. I do have an issue with the number they use. For this motion I am not in favour.”
Councillor Snow said, “The increase of 545 people is approximately one fifth. That’s a huge increase and a big chunk of our town’s money.”
The motion was to accept the NLLS 2023 budget at a cost of $24,133.95.
Councillor Whitlock said, “We finally found some ministers to listen to us at the board level. We’ve been advocating this since I’ve been on the board, and they opened it up and are going to look at it. They couldn’t change the past year because it was already done, but going forward it is going to be more positive and look better.”
With three opposed and three in favour the motion was defeated, however coming as a requisition they will still have to pay it.
Regarding the three gravel roads entering the community, Director of Infrastructure Ben McPhee noted they were waiting for them to dry up a bit more but will be grading them shortly. Grading will also occur more regularly this year with calcium applications being removed from the budget.
Regarding broadband there was discussion that they would be doing some remediation to damaged yards once all the frost is out of the ground, as well as hosting open houses throughout the summer.
Regarding ice user rental rates the proposal was for a 7 per cent increase, and it was noted that they researched similar-sized communities and Vermilion over a period of time.
Deputy Mayor Conlon said, “We are always at a deficit and it continues to grow with increasing costs.” average annual increases were 3 per cent.
Lucas said, “We put a new ice plant in that is more efficient, however, ATCO charges top rates that the electric motors could operate at for 2022. We will now see a decrease because we will be running on actual usage, not the estimated cost.
Councillor Snow said, “I know we have to recover costs but if we are putting our prices too high is it having a negative effect on our community? Are people going to go elsewhere to rent ice because we are $50 more and it's $20 for fuel?”
Rayment said, I’m not in favour; at $99,000 it’s at 2 per cent of our tax base. It is a user facility so I think a user based fee would be more than acceptable. I would like to understand the impact more. The further we go in the hole with it, the less likely we are to ever replace it.”
Pulyk said, “The Town of Vermilion has a lot of things to offer people. Would people pay more to get more services? Ultimately its got to be what we can afford. There are ways to offset the cost; maybe not just through the County of Vermilion River, but other communities as well. We have to try to find a balance that is not going to put an increased tax burden our residents”.
They also discussed marketing strategies for non-ice users such as lacrosse, and also for the facility to be used as a concert venue.
With three in favour and three opposed, the motion was defeated.