Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - March 19, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
Fertilizer complex site under study City hints at 4 big new developments Four developments with payrolls of similar size to the 275-permanent job payroll of the proposed huge Alberta Ammonia fertilizer complex to be built near Lethbridge may occur in the city. City economic development officer Dennis O'Connell said Monday discussions are under way with the companies concerned. "We anticipate these announcements will be made within the next three to four he said. Meanwhile, the precise location of the million Alberta Ammonia Ltd. chemical fertilizer plant probably won't be revealed for several weeks. A spokesman for Foster Economic Consultants Ltd. of Calgary told The Herald Monday it will be a matter of weeks before a decision is made on location of the four- plant complex. The consultants, hired by Alberta Ammonia to find the best location for the complex, have been doing detailed site examination work for the past three weeks. An official of the consulting firm .said no land has yet been acquired or is even under option to purchase and disclosure now of sites under study would only encourage land speculation. Alberta Ammonia officials said at a Calgary news conference Friday the complex, on which construction will begin next spring, will be built within 20 miles of Lethbridge. Four sites were said to be under study, but the spokesman for Foster Consulting said double that number have been looked at and are still under consideration. The Alberta Ammonia complex is expected to create 275 permanent jobs, with up to workers employed during the three-year construction period. Duncan Sim, president of the Calgary-based firm, said Friday some problems getting a work force of that size may occur because of Alberta's low unemployment rate. But, he said, Canada Manpower programs which move unemployed workers from other parts of Canada to where jobs are available will likely be utilized. When completed in 1978, Alberta Ammonia's four plants will produce tons daily of anhydrous Ammonia, used in making nitrogen-based fertilizers. Farmland Industries Ltd., of Kansas City, Mo., will purchase the entire output which will be shipped via a 1.200-mile pipeline to the fertilizer-short American midwest. Farmland is owned by local farmer co-operatives in 15 states and serves some farmers and ranchers. It will operate the plants, which will be financed and owned by Alberta Ammonia. The financing in the form of loans will come largely from U.S. investment sources. Alberta Ammonia is a wholly Canadian-owned company controlled by Canex Trading Ltd. of Calgary, which is the private investment vehicle of several Calgary businessmen. Nitrogen Fertilizer Complw, Southern Alberta, Canada World's largest fertilizer plant site of four-unit complex still to be purchased. District The Lettilnridge Herald SECOND SECTION Lethbridge, Alberta, Tuesday, March 19, 1974 Pages 13-24 Fort Macleod wants action on Oldman dam By D'ARCY RICKARD Herald District Editor FORT MACLEOD The Town of Fort Macleod doesn't care who builds it but somebody has got to build a dam to ensure water supplies i'or all centres down river, it feels. "All of us are sitting back and saying let's not' give the Lethbridge Northern Irrigation, District so much, water when we know that is not the answer to this Coun. John Davis said Monday. Earlier council decided to inform Environment Minister Bill Yurko and Agriculture Minister Hugh Homer that the town is concerned about the low summer level of the Oldman River. Council once decided the problem is causetfby allowing too much water to be taken out of the river west of town for irrigation. But Monday council vowed to write letters to the senior governments and the City of Lethbridge recommending a concerted effort be made to build a dam. Appointed Ray Lambert, manager of the Medicine Hat arena convention centre, was named Monday to run the city's Canada Winter Games Sportsplex. "We have got to have some more, reserve water in the Oldman said Coun, Davis. "It's about time everybody got together to get that dam completed." "It is just common sense to do said town secretary .treasurer Roy White. Council referred to a plan that has placed a dam site north of Pincher Creek. Waters from the Oldman, Crowsnest and the north fork of the Castle would be reserved. "This plan has been in the offing for the past 10 said Coun. Ron Tilbe. we don't start screaming for it, we won't get said Coun. Davis. Coun. Phil Hodnett agreed, noting that MLA Leighton Buckwell had informed him last year the most recent cost estimate for the project was more than million. Upstream storage was called for by 60 members of Unifarm meeting at Taber recently. Additional reports on Page 14. CHEC decision pending Results are expected in four to six weeks from a Canadian Radio and Television Commission hearing on CKEC radio's 'application for a satellite outlet in Taber, the station's, general manager said Monday. Hal Brown said CHEC received excellent support from a Taber delegation at the CRTC hearing, held last week in Vancouver. BILL GROENEN photo Frosted Waiting for a bus during a snow storm can really frost a 14-year-old Kathy Hoyt, 963 12th Ave. S., found out Monday when one inch of snow fell on Lethbridge. The fast moving storm left the city with clear skies predicted for today and tomorrow with high temperatures between 30-35. The normal highs for this date are 40-45. Budget could hike taxes by to By ANDY OGLE Herald Staff Writer A preliminary 1974 operating budget which would jump taxes on most city homes by to was presented to city council Monday. But indications are council will make budget cuts which could slice the net tax increase in half: Just where these cuts will come won't be known until council's next meeting on the' budget next Monday, when resolutions on specific items in the budget will be made by aldermen. discussion at council's initial run-through on the budget with city administrators pointed to close looks being taken at library, and fire- and police department operations as well as requested equipment purchased in several city departments. The police department budget, which includes a quest for seven more constables is up 19 per cent over last year, while the fire .department is asking for a net increase of about over 1973. including 10 more men. The library board is asking for increased funds for more staff and for purchase of more books and films for the new library. As presented to council Monday, the city budget calls for an 8.08 mill increase to 41.65 mills from 33.57 mills for city operations last year. Since most city homes, according to the city tax office, are assessed at between to this would result in tax increases ranging from about to and would add some more to city coffers. But such an increase would cost the city its municipal incentive grant of more than from the provincial government, because it exceeds government growth limits. These limits allow a 22% per cent increase in the city budget over a three-year period from the 1972 base year, which means the city's maximum permitted mill rate within 1973-74-75 is only 39.13 mills. To allow for some increase next year, the city's budget should increase this year by only 2.56 mills says City Manager Allister Findlay, which means council will have to chop about 5V2 mills or some worth of expenditures from the budget. Or the provincial government will have to be convinced to ease the restrictions or come up with more grant money for municipalities. Council passed a resolution to this effect last week, and Mr. Findlay was to be in Wetaskiwin today with other municipal representatives to discuss this area with the department of municipal affairs. In analysing the city's 1974 preliminary budget, -says Mr. Findlay. salary and wage increases totalling about and an increase in debt charges of account for a large part of the "drastic" mill rate increase. Revenues have also increased, including a 7.3 per cent increase in the rateable assessment (total value of taxable property in the city) which went from million to million, he says, but department budgetary re- quests have also escalated dramatically. Here's what council pays in property tax Contrary to popular opinion, local property taxes aren't escalating by leaps and bounds, City Manager Allister Findlay claims. To illustrate his point at city council's initial budget meeting Monday, he produced a chart showing that some aldermen actually paid less taxes in 1973 than they would have paid on the same residence in 1965. And all members of council paid less taxes last year than in 1970 for the same home. Taxes on Aid. Vera Ferguson's residence at 1602 7th Ave. S. were in 1965 and in 1973. a reduction of 17 per cent. At Aid. Tom Ferguson's house at 2210 8th Ave. S., the tax bill was down eight per cent in 1973 from 1965 compared to Mayor Andy Anderson's residence at 2921 North Parkside Drive was taxed in 1965 and in 1973. a hike of 17 per cent. Aid. Cam Barne's house at 1907 15th St. S. wasn't completed until 1968, when he paid in property taxes. Last year his tax bill was Aid. Ed Bastedo's house at 2114 12th Ave. S. was taxed at in 1965 and last year for a five per cent jump over the nine-year period. Taxes on Deputy Mayor Vaughan Hembroffs house at 3414 South Parkside Drive were in 1965 and last year, up 14 per cent. Aid. Bill Kergan's taxes on 1023 29 A St. S. in 1965 were and were down to in 1973. a decrease of seven per cent. Provincial government home owner grants, initiated in 1966 by the Social Credit administration, and the Conservative government's education tax rebate introduced last year were largely responsible for keeping property taxes down. School boards do have autonomy, says gov't minister By JIM GRANT Herald Staff Writer EDMONTON The autonomy of school boards is not being eroded away by the department of education, according to the province's minister of education. The financial incentives the department provides to school boards who comply with its program and school building regulations are designed to stimulate change in certain areas of the educational system. Lou Hyndman claimed in an interview. Some local school trustees have charged the department with using the financial incentives to centralize the control of education in Edmonton. Mr. Hyndman says there is an obligation on government to play some type of leadership role in education because it is responsible to the taxpayers for the money it collects from them. "I would disagree with the contention that all school money should be paid by the provincial government without any strings attached." That would mean that "there is no responsibility on the department of education or the legislature in terms of the general directions and emphasis and thrusts of education." The department began offering financial incentives to school boards so they would begin to develop programs in areas where educational needs were evident. One such financial incentive program is the educational opportunities fund that encourages the development of new curriculum programs for the elementary grades. For many years. Mr. Hyndman says, "elementary schools have been the caboose of the education system." Elementary schooling didn't attract the attention of teachers and school boards even though it is considered to be the most crucial period of learning for students. In order to "redress the inequalities of support and attention to elementary the department introduced the EOF program so that school boards had to develop new programs for elementary children if they wished to qualify for additional funding. Mr. Hyndman says the provincial government also became aware of "a need across the province for early childhood education" and it established the early childhood services grants for kindergartens that developed programs based on department of education guidelines. The department set "certain criteria" for ECS programs which it was "not prepared to let he says. Mr. Hyndman says his department has taken the responsibility of providing the "start-up kick" in areas of education where certain needs are not being met. Once the need is being adequately met. the department will merge the special program funds back into the school board grant system. He isn't aware of any evidence that would indicate school boards are losing their autonomy to his department. "Of the roughly million'that goes out to schools from the government. 93 per cent is under the total and sole control of the school boards." He questions how can say the school boards are losing autonomy when they make the decisions on how most of the money allotted to elementary and secondary schools is to be spent. Mr. Hyndman disagrees with the argument that school boards only have direct control of less than 20 per cent of their budgets because over 80 per cent of the budget is automatically used up in salaries. He says the school boards have the power to control the size of their teaching staffs when they establish the size of classes and the number of students each teacher is to instruct. The province has also given school boards the right to ask the taxpayers in their district for additional education funding. The school boards don't have to hold a plebiscite if they wish to obtain funds in addition to the 7.5 per cent ceiling the province has placed on municipal tax increases, he says. However, Jhe school boards must pass money bylaw if they wish to obtain funds beyond the 7.5 per cent ceiling and if they receive opposition to the bylaw from five per cent of the electorate then a plebiscite must be held. Since last fall, eight school boards in Jhe province have passed a bylaw to go beyond the 7.5 per cent ceiling and not more than .01 per cent of the electorate opposed the bylaw. Mr. Hyndman claims the school boards more autonomy now than they had two years ago. But. he suggests, if they intend to retain the autonomy they have, school boards must begin to "tackle the tough issues aixl not pass them on to Ihe minister." Mr. Hyndman says "far too many complaints people have about school boards" are directed to him. "People never think about contacting the school boards." To help public attitude toward school boards. Mr. Hyndman announced in November that the provincial government will mount a promotion campaign prior to school trustee elections this fall to make people aware of the power of school trustees. People must be informed that school trustees have the power to close schools, add extra taxes, change the school year and the curriculum, he maintains. "There should be no acclamations in the province." he says. The department of education is also planning "a type of school" for school board candidates so they will nave sonic idea of what education is about before they go into it. The "school" would provide candidates with background about The School Act. information on school board budgetary responsibilities and the opportunity to meet with some of the people in education. They may even be asked "to confront a high school class" or tour "a couple of schools." Mr. Hyndman met with strong opposition from school trustees late last year when he suggested that a ward system may be a better method of electing trustees and that school board chairman should be elected by the public instead of being appointed by the trustees. As a result of the opposition Jo his ideas. Mr. Hyndman has decided to allow each school board to decide whether the chairman will be elected and whether the trustees will be elected bv wards.