The on the job training has started for Chestermere’s newly elected city council as they met for their first working council meeting Nov. 6.
“I certainly drew on my past experiences in chairing the Council meeting,” said Chestermere’s new Mayor Marshall Chalmers.
While Chalmers is getting used to being a Mayor again, the rest of the new councilors are hard at work learning about both council procedures and the issues facing the city.
The Nov. 6 meeting saw council jump in with both feet with decisions on the CUI rate committee, Webster Industrial Park, the 2018 budget review and council remuneration on the agenda.
“There was good debate on the items which were in the agenda.
“There is still lots to learn regarding the process,” said Chalmers.
Debate on the different issues saw several members of council directing questions to city staff both to ensure understanding of the issue and to look for potential cost savings.
Early in the meeting, Councillor Laurie Bold asked for recorded votes on the Letters of Intent to Purchase Land in Webster Industrial Park.
Debate ranged from whether accepting the letters of intent would affect council’s ability to make decisions on the industrial park and what the letters signal as far as corporate interest in the industrial park.
The city’s Economic Development Manager Jean-Marc Lacasse said that accepting the letters doesn’t affect council’s ability to make decision on the future of the park.
Lacasse also said that the interest is a positive sign for the city and the future of the Webster Industrial Park.
All members of council except for Bold voted to accept the letters of intent.
With the approval, 28 per cent of the industrial park is either sold or spoken for.
Discussion then moved onto the next topic, council remuneration.
A desire to find savings and efficiencies led to council deciding to wait until after they have had a chance to review the 2018 operating and capital budgets to approve any changes to council compensation.
Mayor Chalmers said that council wants to be able to see and debate what the impact of the proposed change to remuneration will be.
They are also hoping that by reviewing the budget as a brand-new council, areas of savings will be found and passed on to the taxpayers.
“[We want] to better understand what is included in the budgets and if there is any room to find some relief to the tax rate,” said Chalmers.
In what continues to be the most contentious topic in the city, council spent significant time debating the need for a CUI Rate Application Committee.
“The community has asked that we explore all avenues to try and find ways to bring some relief in utility costs and more specifically to water rates,” said Chalmers, “Council will be working with both City staff and CUI to achieve this.”
The decision was made to table the decision until after council’s scheduled meeting with CUI later that week.
“Council is committed to gathering all the information we can to make an informed decision regarding utility rates and the process in establishing these rates,” he said.
In their final major decision in the meeting, Council directed staff to start the process of looking for a new Chief Administrative Officer.
“This will be a very important decision for Council and the community, so we are taking all the necessary steps to get it right,” said Chalmers.