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County needs to uphold trust for Winnifred residents

Posted on October 26, 2023 by Ryan Dahlman

Dear Editor, 

The latest fiasco in the ongoing Winnifred raw water saga is that hapless Winnifred property owners are on the hook as of Oct. 1 for an unknown increase in their property tax.

If one is to believe the Utilities Manager over our Director of Finance it appears the County of Forty Mile is going to renege on our original deal of a 20 year term and a current interest rate of 5.2 per cent, offered by our Director of Finance Kerri Buis.

The Utilities Manger, in a subsequent letter to property owners, advised that “the terms are yet to be established by Council. For example over 15 or 20 years.”

The Utilities Manager has provided no explanation or details.

We’ll just have to wait and see what the County comes up with and just hope that they haven’t made another error.

It is not possible to pull out a calculator and check the County’s numbers for this Local Improvement Levy because the only numbers provided by County are two completely different amounts of the proposed Levy.

I trust and expect that these failures and errors by County staff on behalf of the County are not in keeping with the required level of capability expected of senior County staff such as Utilities Manager or Director of Finance.

The County should engage in remedial action in regard to the employees responsible for handling the Winnifred Raw Water Project Phase 2 and ensure that staff is aware of and understands the required level of care in discharging their duties. Additionally, sanctions should be considered to ensure that the County can maintain the necessary level of competency in senior staff.

This entire project should be independently examined by the Auditor General’s office under the auspices of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to ensure the veracity of any further communications to affected stakeholders. The County of Forty Mile needs to uphold the trust of their stakeholders.

Eric Musekamp, Bow Island

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