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Local Improvement Levy concerning for Winnifred water users

Posted on October 5, 2023 by Ryan Dahlman

This project represents the first attempt by Forty Mile County to utilize the new Local Improvement Levy taxation powers granted in the Municipal Government Act (MGA).

Unfortunately, their efforts have been plagued by failures, omissions, miss-steps, misinformation and errors.

The latest error is so severe that it has caused the proposed Local Improvement Levy to increase four-fold.

Additionally, it has created a material change to the parameters of the project by grossly overstating the size of the project by tens of thousands of square meters, due to a lack of due diligence by the County.

I was advised by the County Administrator this error was due to some properties described in square feet or acres. 

Rather than just complete the conversion to metric measure the County decided to convert all of the property sizes to imperial measures, stating “…that the most accurate units would be square feet.”

Obviously, all of this work will have to be undone because, of course, the metric system is the law of the land.

This late stage, ad hoc switch to imperial measure adds another layer of confusion, misunderstanding and distrust. 

To assuage these concerns, the County should forthwith complete the conversion to metric measure for all the properties involved and submit this work to an independent auditor for verification.

Once verified the County should then report back to Winnifred property owners.

It remains to be seen the extent of the damage and harm caused to potential bidders on this project or the contractor that received misleading data from the County.

I was informed by County Administrator Keith Bodin on Sept. 6/23 in an email “The County is in the process of implementing a system to check our records against those of Alberta Land Titles and have now meticulously cross referenced every parcel in both the assessment and tax systems.”

While I am pleased the County is now using the diligence due an important matter as this, it is troubling that Council would have forged ahead with this project without doing this work at the onset.

Our Administrator and Utility Managers agreed mistakes have been made in this inaugural effort to use the Local Improvement Levy and have pledged to do better next time.

This does not help those negatively impacted in this instance.

Council should take responsibility for these failings and not proceed with any Local Improvement Levy until there is policy and the capability in place to protect the rights and interests of all affected stakeholders.

Sincerely,

Eric Musekamp, Bow Island

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