RM of Pipestone Ratepayers’ Meeting held on March 28

Caption: Shown (L-R): Sheila Kotylak (Ward 5), Lane Wanless (Ward 6), Gary Nicholson (Ward 3), Archie McPherson (Reeve), Michelle Halls (Chief Administrative Officer), James Watt (Ward 1), Garnet Williamson (Ward 2), Gary Nicholson (Ward 3), and Randy Henuset (Ward 4). PHOTO/DOLORES CALDWELL

 A nice crowd attended the RM of Pipestone Ratepayers’ Meeting on Thursday, March 28 in the Reston Memorial Theatre. Reeve Archie McPherson welcomed everyone and introduced the councillors: James Watt (Ward 1), Garnet Williamson (Ward 2), Gary Nicholson (Ward 3), Randy Henuset (Ward 4), Sheila Kotylak (Ward 5), Lane Wanless (Ward 6), and Chief Administrative Officer Michelle Halls. “Elections were held in fall of 2018, with most of the previous Council returning,” explained Reeve McPherson.  “We’ve had the pleasure of welcoming Lane Wanless for Ward 6 back to the table as well.”

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 The purpose of the night’s meeting is to review our past year’s operation and our 2019 Budget and Plan.

 Council took some time to do strategic planning in January this year, to set directions and goals for our new term.  One of our first steps was to review the previous plan and see what goals we accomplished.  Of course, many of the achievements listed are because of our citizens and volunteers dedicating their time to improving our municipality too.

Accomplishments - Goals and Results:

Built man-made lake and spray park; Assisted living housing is under construction; expansion of and sales of numerous businesses, plans to expand Reston, Pipestone; improvements to rinks, parks, playgrounds, POD at Reston School, daycare expansion; drain cleaning and culvert program under flood prevention program; increased population with an increase of 9 (0.8% growth) vs. net loss in other areas.

Grants and Incentives:

Continuing on with a review of our past year,

We continued to offer a number of grants and incentives to our ratepayers:

 Residential - $41,995 (2018), $99,745 (2017); Commercial - $80,020 (2018); $44,650 (2017); 5:1 Fundraising - $5,915 (2018), $11,902(2017); 25% Capital Grants - $12,950 (2018), $15,552 (2017); Recreation Projects - $406,450 (2018), $14,396 (2017).  Council has introduced a Recreation Projects grant.  This funding, up to $250,000 annually, is intended to support recreation facilities with new construction or equipment.  In 2018, Council assisted with the construction of a Zamboni and shed at the Pipestone Rink, a new Zamboni for Reston Rink, renovations to the Cromer Rink and improvements to the ball diamonds in Reston.  We were fortunate to receive additional funding from the Province, the Richardson Foundation, Enbridge and other private sector donors to make these projects a reality.

Communities

 The expansion of the Reston Lagoon and forcemain from Pipestone to Reston was completed in October.  The project was budgeted at $5 million, and came in far under budget to a total of $3.3 million dollars.  The Federal & Provincial governments paid 75% of the bill, under the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund, and the Municipality paid $825,000 from Royalty Revenues.

 Our next step is a piped sewer system at Sinclair, which will also be connected to the Reston Lagoon, by a forcemain like Pipestone. Manitoba Water Services Board has committed to funding this $3.2 million project, with the RM share being approximately $1.7 million.  Our share will be funded by the Royalty revenues and a per-household connection fee from the property owners. We expect to tender this project soon. With the connection of Sinclair, our regional sewer system will be complete.

Investment and Reserve Position

Our reserve position is as follows:

Investment Portfolio - 5.0 million (2018), 5.2 million (2017);       

Reserves - 7.5 million (2018), 7.0 million (2017);   

Total Reserves - $12.6 million (2018), $12.22 million(2017).

We are continuing to put money from our royalties into transportation, infrastructure, grants and reserves.

Capital Projects

Grader - $285,000 (Proposed 2019), $264,989 (Actual 2018); Trucks - $45,000 (Proposed 2019), $80,839 (Actual 2018); Mowers - $80,000 (Proposed 2019);  Packer - $45,000 (Proposed 2019); Road Construction -  $400,000 (Proposed 2019); Senior Housing Project - $2,000,000 (Proposed 2019), $311,269 (Actual 2018); Building and Facilities - $320,000 (Proposed 2019), $419,400 (Actual 2018); Sinclair Sewer - $3,651,700 (Proposed 2019), $37,450 (Actual 2018); Lake Project and Water Line - $272,297 (Proposed 2019), $455,050 (Actual 2018); Subdivisions - $600,000 (Proposed 2019), $17,138 (Actual 2018); Utilities - $870,000 (Proposed 2019), $396,325 (Actual 2018); Municipal Lagoon - $2,080,000 (Proposed 2019), $84,885 (Actual 2018); Spray Equipment - $25,000 (Proposed 2019), $30,6669 (Actual 2018); Computer - $33,009 (Actual 2018); Pipestone Lagoon - $42,877.86 (Proposed 2019), $3,355 (Actual 2018).

Total - $8,731,874.66 (Proposed 2019), $2,134,378 (Actual 2018).

Municipal Grants and Project Funding

 We are continuing to offer 25% of capital for funding projects to Municipal facilities that are pre-approved.  The ward grant is still in place for communities to access additional funds.  There is $10,000 annually allocated to each ward for this; there is $255,000 accumulated in the grant reserve.

 We also have continued to have available funding for 25% of infrastructure projects to our communities.  Work done at the Reston Campground will be supported by this grant.

RES

The RES Centre continues to be a gathering place for all ages.  We completed kitchen renovations, new urinals and signage for the building.  We were also pleased to welcome the Reston Fitness Centre to the building.

Infrastructure

 We will continue with repairing frost boils and mulching of roadsides this year.  We have repaired 88 miles of frost boils over the last 4 years with the assistance of local contractors.

 We will continue to contract for stone crushing on approximately 10 miles of road this year, which will make a total of 27 miles over the last four years.

Our mowers were able to complete two full rounds of mowing throughout the municipality.

Water Pipeline

 The project that was started in 2012 is completed.  We added an additional 7 new connections last year.  We have a total of 500 active connections, representing over 80% of the municipal population.

Funding to date is as follows with RM paying 2/3’s of total cost:

2009 - 2012  - Total shared cost $5.8 million;

2013 - 2014 - Total shared cost 3.27 million;

2015 - Total shared cost $4.7 million;

2016 - Total shared cost $1.83 million;

2017 - Total shared cost $735,000;

2018 - Total shared cost $620,000.

Economic Development

 We are happy to welcome new businesses, business expansions and new business owners to the Municipality.  Council has joined forces with the RM of Wallace-Woodworth and the Town of Virden to form the Dennis County Development Partnership.  The purpose of the partnership is to promote economic development on a regional basis, encourage investment and identify economic opportunities. In 2019, the group will focus on promoting the region, our opportunities, expansion projects and business retention.  This group has been supported by a number of federal and provincial grants and is unique to our Province.

Senior’s Housing

 Senior Housing continues to be a top priority for Council. A building committee was formed in 2017 and they have been working towards building an Independent Living facility on the North end of the RES property, across from the Reston Rink.  The land was purchased from Fort La Bosse in exchange for upgrades to the Reston School grounds.  Aaron Smith is the General Contractor for the project.

 The house is made up of 9 individual suites with a service package, including meals and light housekeeping.  Meals are prepared in a large, homey kitchen and the residents share common areas and recreation space.  The upper floor will contain all the suites, kitchen and dining area while the lower level will feature a guest suite, tenant storage, craft and hobby rooms, a fitness room and a large room suitable for family gatherings and recreation.  The building will have a wheel chair lift to allow everyone to access both levels.

 The Housing Committee is hoping to make an announcement on rental rates, services offered and how to become a tenant in the very near future. In the meantime, if you would like to be added to our list of people interested in more information, please let Michelle at the RM Office know. 

Community Clean Up

 As a reminder to residents, community clean up days will be Friday, May 31 for Reston and Friday, June 7 for Cromer, Pipestone and Sinclair.  This is the day that you can set out larger items and yard waste for collection.  Please contact the office if you know you will have an appliance that needs to be moved on those days.

2019 Financial

 The RM continues to operate in a solid financial position.  We received $2.2 million in royalties in 2018 and are budgeting for $1.6 million in 2019.  These, as previously stated, will go into transportation, infrastructure and reserve.

 Mill rates remain the same in 2019 as last year.  Council has worked hard to continue investing in infrastructure and services while maintaining an affordable tax rate.

 Our major projects this year will include road building, frost boil repair, and increased regular road maintenance.  We will also be constructing the sewer system in Sinclair, as previously mentioned.

 Our new lake is nearly completed which will be a great addition to the Spray Park constructed last year.  We are just waiting on some warmer weather to complete construction of the water line and installation of the aeration system so that we can all enjoy our new swimming hole.

 Another highlight from the budget is health care.  Council is working to improve access to health care in the Municipality.  We are investigating a First Responder program to provide trained care between a call to 911 and an ambulance arriving.  This service is being used successfully in several rural communities and we are hopeful there will be interest here as well.    More information will be coming out soon, but again, if you want to register your interest, please let Michelle know & she’ll make sure you get contacted.

The floor was then opened for questions and answers. A complete breakdown of the General Operating Fund and Budgeted Revenue and Expenditure is available at the RM of Pipestone Office.

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