A short and spiffy City Council meeting Monday night was highlighted by the reading of a pair of bylaws, the first of which has a smelly side.
Undergoing first reading was amendments to rates charged to residents bringing solid waste into the City of Estevan landfill. The numbers are set to rise over a four year period.
"Nothing much is changing, it's just that the rates are slowly increasing over time," stated Mayor Roy Ludwig, "...it's going up incrementally and it will continue to go up right until 2021."
Landfill tipping fees rise from $46 per tonne in 2018 to $85 in 2021. In three years, you will be paying $90 to drop off a dead animal carcass, instead of the current $35. Smaller increases are seen for items such as mattresses and refrigerators, the highest being the $35 mark by 2021.
However, the bylaw itself has to pass second and third reading by Council at a later date before final approval. Until then, it's open to public input.
The Mayor noted that the landfill maintenance itself is becoming more and more of a burden upon City management. Excavation has been conducted on the site to distribute waste and organize the flow of groundwater.
"It has to go in clay-covered areas, and we have to test the ground water flow for any contaminates. It's getting more and more onerous to run a landfill, and as a result, it's getting more and more costly. We're looking at a new cell, perhaps two, moving forward and they're not cheap, they're expensive. So, we're looking at at least $200,000-300,000 for a new cell, by the time we get everything in place to meet all the requirements."
He added that they have TerraTech contracted to assist with testing groundwater and meeting the waste management requirements, many of which are mandated by higher powers. Increasing costs on the City mean increased fees for the landfill users, according to Ludwig.
The second bylaw that underwent first reading entailed increases to, and some introduction of fees for other services provided by the City, ranging from photocopying and other paperwork to disinterment in the cemetery, as well as facility rental, swimming lessons and utility inspections.
"Doing comparisons with other cities of like size, our people do a lot of work giving documentation for no charge...which does add up. Now, we will be charging nominal fees for certain requests moving forward," said the Mayor, adding that he only expects the resulting revenue to meet the expenses of such activities like paper and employee time.
The City has also been receiving a rising number of LA FOIP (Local Authority Freedom Of Information and Privacy Protection Act) requests in the wake of recent provincial legislation, and Ludwig stated that it's becoming a time consuming task for employees to sort through archived data and pass on the required information.
In other topics of the meeting, various Councillors brought up the numerous events of the month, including the Festival of Trees, the ECS Musical 'Footloose' and the upcoming Home Hardware Canada Cup of Curling, as well as concerts. This prompted Councillor Greg Hoffort to pipe up with a inquiry.
"We've talked to several businesses around the community, and they have shared their thoughts of how important these events are for them in terms hotels and restaurants. If these events are happening, I felt it would be good to measure what exactly the economic impact is. There are formulas and mechanisms to measure that and we have an economic development department that is very motivated in these ways, and so I just thought it would be great to measure them," he explained.
He was happy to hear City Manager Jeff Ward's response, which outlined the fact that the City already conducts similar such investigations.
"We have a very proactive management team at the City, and they are already looking into the economic impact of such events. It's good to hear, and we look forward to the results."
Such information can be further used by management and the Economic Development Board to assist in selecting events and determining the feasibility of hosting them.
Other items of the evening included the quiet passing of Council's 2019 meeting schedule, and approval of the 2019 Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association membership fee.