Medicine Hat Minute: Borrowing Bylaw, Strong Towns, and Reimbursement Rates Increased
Medicine Hat Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Medicine Hat politics
This Week In Medicine Hat:
There will be a meeting of the Public Services Committee on Monday at 8:00 am. There will be a Managing Director’s Service Area Update which includes the Monarch Theatre Request for Proposals, an update on the Medicine Hat Ancestor Reburial Project, and the Jehovah's Witness Convention 2023.
- The Economic, Land & Strategic Planning & Development Committee will meet on Tuesday at 4:30 pm. The meeting will be held in-camera (in secret), and the agenda does not provide any indication as to what the topic of discussion will be. On Thursday, at 3:30 pm, the Energy and Infrastructure Committee will meet. No agenda is available for this meeting yet.
- Free tickets for Family Day Fest at the Big Marble Go Centre will be available starting today. The annual event will still be free, but a change to a ticketed event has been made to allow for better planning. Family Day Fest takes place on February 20th and doors open at noon.
Last Week In Medicine Hat:
Residents packed the Esplanade Arts & Heritage Centre for the first public Strong Towns presentation. Medicine Hat was the only Canadian city chosen to participate in the inaugural Strong Towns Community Action Lab (CAL). “It’s [all about] transportation, vehicle transportation, it’s cycling, it’s our infrastructure," said Shawn Champagne, senior planner with the City of Medicine Hat.
- Council introduced a single borrowing bylaw for $97 million to fund its two-year construction plan. This omnibus format covers 32 projects and avoids the need for a series of separate bylaws, like the 28 separate bylaws that came before Council in 2019. The current two-year borrowing schedule asks for $96 million in debt-financing, with the remainder to be paid for with grants and reserve cash. The largest project is a new substation with a price tag of $24 million, and the smallest is a $540,000 investment in public washrooms in the Towne Square development. The City's total debt is predicted to rise by 10% over two years, reaching 59% of its provincially regulated debt limit in 2024.
- An increase in the reimbursement rates for City employees traveling on City business was approved by an 8-0 Council vote. The rates, which have not been updated in 14 years, have been changed to match the Canada Revenue Agency suggested rates for meals and incidentals. Despite the increase, the City is expected to spend the same amount overall as less travel is predicted in the post-pandemic environment. Before 2020, the City spent about $25,000 each year for travel expenses so that its workforce could attend conferences, take part in regional meetings, or take training courses out of town.
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