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NCL Council - Mill Rate must be harmonized and equalized by 2022

posted Aug 20, 2018, 9:24 AM by Kathy Carr
The council of North Cypress Langford met on Monday, August 13 for their regular meeting. To start with, they sat as a public hearing to consider conditional use and variance orders.
The first variance order was proposed by Brian Michalenko on behalf of K.F. RailPorts Corp, who are applying to build a bulk fertilizer storage and sales facility for ADM Agri Industries. Their plan is to take advantage of ADM’s rail spur to service a facility that would receive bulk fertilizers by rail car, blend and distribute them to trucks. The planned capacity of the facility is 5000 Tonnes. It would utilize ADM’s existing road access, ad­ding to the traffic only the outbound fertilizer deliveries; the inbound would be by rail.
The original ADM facility was built when the area was zoned for agriculture, and was unrestricted as to the height and placement of the structures, but the zoning is now M-Industrial, which carries a maximum structure height of 30 feet. K.F. would like to build a storage building and bins 43 feet in height, served by a bucket elevator with a maximum height of 92 feet. This is considerably less than the adjacent bins and elevator which rise to considerably greater heights. Michalenko assured council that the facility was planned to be as dust-free as possible, and well away from adjacent farms and dwellings. The only variation would be for the heights of the structures.
The facility will em­ploy a minimum of two, and more in the busy seasons. Local craftsmen will be used wherever possible during construction. KF RailPorts hope to have as much of the construction as possible done before winter sets in, so time is of the essence.
The other public hearing was over Conditional Use order CU04-18, a request by Clint and Jen Wiebe to put a single-family rural non-farm dwel­ling on a 2.75 acre severed portion of NE11-14-16 WPM. The land contains a dugout and some natural wetlands, and the applicants wish to install a septic field. Manitoba Sus­tainable Development has indicated that it would approve a septic field if it can be located with sufficient setbacks from the wetlands, wells, and property lines. They would not oppose the filling of the dugout, but would not like to see the wetlands chan­ged. The Planning Officer is not sure the field’s setback from the wetlands will allow the dwelling to be located inside the normal setbacks of 125’ from the property lines at the road allowances.
A neighbour of the property, Sherry Grant, appeared before council to oppose the granting of the Conditional Use, on the grounds that it didn’t seem possible to locate the septic field far enough from the watercourse to avoid runoff into the creek that passes on downstream south of her property. She is also concerned that the dwelling would have to be placed so close to their shared property line as to be disagreeably near. Council thanked her for sharing her concerns.
Council returned to their regular meeting and welcomed a delegation from veterinarian Marie North, and from Cats TNR spokesperson Linda Desjardins. They came to discuss the growing problem of stray and feral cats in this as in many other municipalities. In particular, there have been problems in the Wellwood area. In a recent effort, Cats TNR took 38 cats from Wellwood, and despite that there has been sufficient frustration that some have taken such extreme measures as the use of inhumane and illegal traps and even firearms within the town boundaries. North points out that the present situation leaves people little recourse but to come to her and demand some action. She feels that the existence of the Animal Control By-law is not enough without some sort of enforcement. She and the volunteers of the TNR have put countless hours into the care and rehoming of stray and feral cats. TNR have spent $30,000 in fundraised money, and North has donated about $50,000 in professional services to neuter and care for cats this year. North points out that there is a very real danger of burn­out and “compassion fatigue,” as each case develops, and euthanasia becomes so often necessary. Small animal vets are among the most prone to suicide. Each volunteer is involved because of a love of the animals, and an endless round of strays and feral fosterlings can be cripplingly distressing. What she would most like to see is some viable animal control and subsidized neutering program. She would certainly be open to performing the surgeries at a negotiated price. A tax on intact animals would go a long way towards reducing the growth of the population. She pointed out that one intact female cat can be the source of as many as 200 animals over a two-year period.
The second presenter was Linda Desjardins of Cats TNR. She outlined the work that their group has done in the Wellwood area, and pointed to the rescue of seventeen cats in October of ’17, and 38 in June of ’18. She was incensed by the discovery of cats caught in illegal and inhumane leghold traps in the easily entered rink. The discovery of cats dead of bullet wounds in nearby dumpsters exposed the very real danger of firearms used in a built up area. She countered the claim that cats damage buildings with the advantages of the rodent control they provide. She pointed out that they had done a sweep of the Neepawa Fair Grounds and re­homed or found the owners of about two dozen cats, but sent eight feral animals back to the barns neu­tered, where they have been doing an excellent job of vermin control, as admitted by the Neepawa mayor. The policy of “catch and kill” doesn’t solve as many problems as it creates. New fertile animals take up the territory and the problem returns with them.
The small number of TNR volunteers is pre­sently caring for 62 cats. This is a problem that is large and is not going away. What is most needed from their viewpoint is a place to keep the animals; somewhere secure and heated.
Reeve Adriaansen thanked the presenters for their well-expressed concerns, and for the work that they have done already. He explained the difficulty that the Municipality has had filling the post of Animal Control Officer. The cost of salary, supplies and equipment can range very high, and reducing the offer makes the job unattractive. He offered to form a committee with the presenters to discuss ways to combat the problem. He agreed that there is no way that Dr. North should be expec­ted to assume the responsibility for the municipality’s strays, nor for tracing owners or collecting the fines that might be levied. Dr. North offered that what she does, she sees as her public service, but wishes to keep herself from overload.
CAO Jones pointed out that in the area served by the Carberry detachment the only peace officers available are the RCMP, whose duties do not allow them to spend much or any time on municipal by-law enforcement. It leaves the administration with little recourse but to write fierce letters, which is not the most effective means of animal control (particularly of feral animals, who don’t have mail service). Efforts are under way to create a by-law enforcement officer to be shared among nearby municipalities, but not enough prog­ress has yet been made.
Some of the problem at Wellwood came from a well-meaning citizen who undertook to put out feed for the animals, and thereby encouraged the swarm as well as opportunistic wildlife such as skunks. 
Desjardins explained that in the various areas of the country, animal control takes different forms. Some simply catch and euthanize; some set fines and fees that control the animals on a cost-recovery basis; some catch and spay/neuter, and some mandate “no breeding.”
She emphasized that this is a crisis that is not going away, and that those like herself, who have been addressing the problem on a volunteer basis are stretched to the point of burn-out. She welcomed the prospect of talks with members of council about what can be done, and expressed a feeling that “we made some prog­ress.”
There was another delegation, on a completely different matter. Wendy Wolfe and Dolores Mack­symchuk came from Mani­toba Municipal Relations to discuss the Special Service Levies for the various Recreation Districts. They also took the opportunity to discuss the whole matter of differential mill rates. At amalgamation, North Cypress and Langford opted to retain different mill rates for the maximum eight year period, but the understanding is that these must be harmonized and equalized by 2022. 
The use of different rates is just a transitional tool towards eventual equality.
The mechanism for equalization is to gradually remove expenditures from being allocated to the original districts, and put them over to the general ‘at large’ mill rate. So far this is happening a bit too slowly, and Wolfe and Macksymchuk had prepared a plan for moving forward on this problem, and a spreadsheet of the effects this would have on sample properties in the two districts. There is not going to be any extension of the authority to set differential mill rates.
Where there are differences in services among properties, the Municipal Act provides tax tools to ensure fairness. Chief among these are Special Service Levies, which allow the municipality to bill the costs of services only to those receiving them. At present, North Cypress Langford has three special service levies: recreation services in its five recreation areas (Brookdale-Oberon, Well­wood, Edrans, Langford and Carberry); garbage collection and landfill services in North Cypress; and dust control service in the Brookdale area. Each special service may be assessed by a number of methods — per parcel, by frontage, by acreage or by assessment — and the related expenses removed from the differential mill rate or the general mill rate, thus evening the ‘at large’ mill rate to what serves all ratepayers, and can properly be equalized.
Applying a constant mill rate to the different recreation areas has revealed some inequalities, as the separate rec boards each have different approaches to spending. Some spend less than their allocation and save the balance for special projects, some spend all their allocation and more. Each has different facilities and programs to fund. If there is to be equity, the special service levy must be tied to actual expenses. There is also a consideration whether the levy should continue as a mill rate of assessment, or be on a per property basis. Recreation needs are more closely tied to residential properties than to acreage or assessment. Catchment districts are also to be considered.
There are many things to be taken into account in drawing up the tax budgets for the coming years, and the deadline for equalizing the mill rate will be 2022 no matter what.
Council thanked Wolfe and Macksymchuk for their presentation, and returned to their regular meeting.
Returning to the Con­ditional Use application for the Wiebes, council discussed the application and the concerns raised by Sherry Grant at the public hearing. The proximity issues are hard to address where the two adjacent properties are on separate sections, assuming the proper setbacks are maintained. More troubling is the siting of the septic field relative to the existing watercourse, and for that, the expertise is with Manitoba Sus­tainable Development. Their ex­perts will have to approve the siting of a field, and if they are satisfied there should be no grounds for concern. The application was approved on condition that all the requirements of Manitoba Sustainable Development are met.
The application for a Variation Order for the ADM Industries proposed Bulk Fertilizer Facility was approved.
An application by Byron and Betty Steen to subdivide their 6.68 acre yard site at NE21-11-14WPM was approved, on condition that a Conditional Use order be granted allowing a single-family non-farm dwelling in an AG zone, and that a Minor Variation Order be obtained to slightly dec­rease the required minimum setbacks adjacent to a government road al­lowance for the dwel­ling, the barn and an accessory shed.
The August Financial Statement, accounts, and direct deposits totalling $1,108,833.96 were approved for payment.
Unfinished Business
Westlake Employment Skills and Services sent word that they have received their funding from the Town of Neepawa, and asked that North Cypress Langford forward their assessed support payment. Since the assessment takes into account actual use figures as well as gross population, it was accepted, and will be paid. 
The group asking to connect properties along Highway 16 east of Neepawa to the NCL water system needs to present evidence of interest in the area. To this end they will need a map of the area and have to do some direct canvassing. NCL’s present rate for a hookup is $16,400, and this will have to be supplemented by funding from higher levels of government to make the extension viable.
The CAO asked if she is to advertise at once for an animal control officer, and if so, what she should offer as incentive. Is it to be full or part time, or retainer plus call-out? Since a committee of council will be discussing just such matters with the morning’s presenters, it is too early to answer the questions, so it’s too early to advertise.
From the Joint Meeting
Council approved the enrollment of Nelli Sippel in the Municipal Emp­loyee Benefit Program and Blue Cross, effective July 25, 2018. Costs to be shared 50/50 between NCL and the Town of Carberry.
Council approved ACAO Trish Fraser to attend the Munisoft Refresher Course in Win­nipeg, October 15, 2018 at a cost of $175 plus lunch and mileage. Costs to be shared 50/50 bet­ween the Municipality and the Town.
Council approved the purchase of the Cemetery Administration program through Munisoft, at a cost of $1299, shared 50/50 between North Cypress Langford and the Town of Carberry.
General Business
Rates for the summer and winter use of a 2017 CAT 160M Grader were set at $224.40/hr. and $259.08/hr. respectively.
Council approved the donation of the municipal records to the Manitoba Archives. 
As part of the application process to the Public Utilities Board to raise the utility rates, ACAO Fraser has to send a deficit application, which will outline the present problems; the rate is unchanged since 2011, since then the rates paid to Neepawa have increased.  Currently NCL is charging a minimum fee based on the size of the meter the residents are using as well as an administration cost of $17 to cover the administration end of things.  This deficit application has to precede the application to adjust the water rates.
It is more than time to flush the main water lines. It is a job that is impossible to accurately quote, be­cause there is no way to know in advance what problems will be encountered, and what will be needed in the way of excavation and parts to correct them. A complete job may well cross the $100,000 threshold above which competitive tendering would normally be required. The problem is complicated by the fact that one contractor, Tim’s Plumbing & Heating, has become thoroughly familiar with the system in a way it would take competitors a long time to equal. Council is pleased with Tim’s work, and would rather not take the risks associated with a possible change. It was decided to ask Tim’s Plumbing & Heating to flush the main lines, and to spend no more than $30,000 in 2108. The money is to come from the Utility Reserve.
In cooperation with the Town of Carberry, council resolved to appoint Steve Denton as Fire Inspector for the Town and North Cypress Langford. His wage was set at $25 per hour, to be paid by the municipality in which he performs the inspections.
Public Sector Digest offers to find grants for which the municipality may apply for various projects. There are three levels of membership, at $290, $590, and $700 per year. It is unclear whether this is a service that can’t just as easily be performed by staff. No decision was taken.
A house in Brookdale burnt in 2011, but its site has been levied for the Brookdale sewer. As there is no building and no connection there, the levy has been removed from the tax bill. Similarly the lot will no longer be assessed for dust control.
Council opened a tendered chequing sub account for the perpetual care funds for the cemetery. This will serve to clarify the cemetery’s bookkeeping.
Added to the Agenda
As a result of a tree falling and blocking a machinery road some time ago, Brent Calvert has been accessing one of his fields through his yard site. The field is now leased for potatoes, and he would like to have the road cleared. It is short work for a cat, and Spud Plains has equipment there already, and will do the work for less than the cost to take the municipal cat there. Spud Plains will be approved to do the work.
Communications
The Office of the Fire Commissioner advises the municipality of an occupancy permit issued to Spud Plains Farms 
The Spruce Plains Detachment of the RCMP sent the July monthly statistics. Councillors noted that there has been an apparent increase in the frequency and seriousness of break-ins and truck thefts, with a busy season coming up. They asked if someone from the detachment could attend the next meeting to hear their concerns. The CAO will invite the detachment to send a delegation.
Prairie Benchmark sent word of their work restoring survey monuments in the municipality. 
Whitemud Watershed sent a request for a letter of support for water retention projects to come from the Lake Winnipeg Basin Fund. The municipality must offer in-kind services to assist with the projects, but may not be required to deliver on the offer. The letter was approved.
A request came from Water Resources to explain the 9” drain under PTH 464 at Brookdale, why it was installed and by whose authority. Norm Campbell, who was on the council at the time recalled that it was in 2011 (the flood year) that the drain was required to draw water off to the creek to the south. Permission was granted by the Highways department.
Around the Table
Councillor Tolton advised that the Canadian Forces are retiring 40 Leopard tanks, and are making them available for war memorials. He understands that a group may come to the next joint meeting to discuss acquiring one for this area.
Councillor Drayson noted that Grady Stephen­son had offered to put some summer students to work cleaning up the Lang­ford shop. Some work appears to have been done, but considerably more could be, if Grady could manage it.  Also, he knows of two ratepayers at Lake Irwin who are interested to be connected to the municipal water supply. The ACAO will proceed with the arrangements.
Reeve Adriaansen would like to see a second recycle bin placed at Brookdale. The present one is almost always overfilled.
The CAO presented the boundary agreement bet­ween NCL and the RM of Elton for signature, and noted that there will be a hearing of the Highway Traffic Board on August 29 in Brandon. Among the things to be discussed is the access to Highway 5 for the Lessard/CFB Shilo service road. She asked for someone from council to attend with her.
The reeve wound up the discussion by reminding everyone that in the next month we should all be very watchful on the roads for trucks and machinery involved in harvest, and particularly for the return of school buses to the roads as term restarts.
The meeting ended at 2:10 pm.

by John McNeily
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