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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - March 20, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta City public school trustees following the Hyndman philosophy By JIM GRANT Herald Staff Writer EDMONTON A move'by Lethbridge public school trustees to provide parents with the freedom to choose the school their children are to attend is exactly what the minister of education is advocating. Lou Hyndman said in an interview with The Herald he encourages all school boards to eliminate attendance boundaries. Lethbridge public school trustees are in the process of developing a policy on optional attendance boundaries that would allow children to attend a school outside their school boundaries providing there is room in the school their parents have chosen. Under the present policy, parents residing within a set boundary must send their children to the school designated for that boundary. Mr. Hyndman admitted the elimination of attendance boundaries may increase the cost of busing school children but he believes it may also allow school boards to better utilize facilities. The elimination of school boundaries, he speculates, will tend to develop specialty schools within each school system. For example, he says one school may put its emphasis on science while another may lean toward the fine arts. "Really it is giving parents a choice within what has been thought of as a fairly rigid school system the public school system." He is also encouraging school boards to look at the "overall picture" of elementary and secondary schooling instead of constructing schools specifically for elementary, junior high or high school students. "Instead of building a school where there are children now, who will not be in that school for more than a few years, they (school boards) will bring the children to the schools instead of the schools to the he explains. Why build completely permanent fixed buildings with a 20 to 25 year payout on the mortgage and find they're only partially used after 10 years, he asks. Mr. Hyndman claims his department's "slow down in school building" has already made for a much better expenditure of tax dollars. The school building freeze is a fallacy, he contends. "There is no real freeze, as million was spent last year." It was the intention of the department of education to decrease the rate of building rather than stop it, he adds. He says school building construction "dropped to only million" last school year compared to the million that was spent on new school construction in 1970. Mr. Hyndman also advocates co-operation between public and separate school boards in the construction and operation of new school buildings when it is feasible to do so. "That type of thing is increasing and we certainly would remove any barriers to prevent it from he said while pointing out that joint single-building schools have been built by the public and 'separate school systems in Fort McMurray and Bonnyville in Northern Alberta. School boards should also be co-operating in the use of old school buildings, he continues. "If there are schools that can be leased or sold from one school board to pnother so that we don't end up with duplication or two empty buildings at one time, it is the obligation of school.boards to do what they can" to work out an agreement to maximize the use of school buildings. The same school-use rationalization should apply to city and county schools so there would not be two facilities close together, each near its own boundary, Mr. Hyndman adds. He also indicated his department is considering establishing a special program that would provide funds for upgrading old school buildings. During discussions on the 1974 budget for the Lethbridge public schools, trustees expressed concern about being short of funds for alterations and renovations to some of the old schools in the system. If renovations and upgrading "means a Continued use for a greater period of time or a greater use of facilities that are older then this in our view is justification for having a look at a program to allow boards to apply for renovation Mr. Hyndman says. The problem in establishing a special fund for upgrading arises when attempting to distinguish what renovations should be classified as maintenance (a school board responsibility) and what should be classified as upgrading. "But the spirit of the thing is sound. We think there should be some activity in that area and perhaps for next year we will have something. We're looking at it now and reflecting on the priorities if there is money for that it means there is less money for school he points out. Later, Mr. Hyndman indicated that the special fund would not be effective for 1974 but it could be available by Jan 1. 1975. District The LetKbridge Herald SECOND SECTION Lethbridge, Alberta, Wednesday, March 20, 1974 Local news Pages 13-20 BILL GROENEN photo This is spring? Although today is the first day of spring, you'd never be able to prove it by this picture of half- frozen Henderson Lake, with the snow-covered Japanese Gardens in the wintry background. EXPROPRIATION One man feels the city owes hint The intricate land assembly for the downtown redevelopment scheme, one of the most complex ever undertaken by a city in Western Canada, has gone surprisingly smoothly. The city is faced with only- one expropriation settlement to be arbitrated by the public utilities board in May. During a few months in 1972. the city swooped swiftly to buy up nearly million in property held by 39 different owners in the six-block square. "I think they dealt fairly." says one former large property owner in the area. "We had very few problems with the city other than over some later details." But Monty Hoot, whose property on the corner of 5th Avenue and 5th Street S. is the subject of the expropriation settlement hearing, says he has been treated poorly by the city. "Actually, they have been treating everyone very fairly with one exception." he said in an interview. His complaint is that an adjoining piece of property was sold to the city for nearly three times the amount per frontal foot that the city paid when it expropriated his land. Mr. Hoot's firm, P and M Hoot Enterprises Ltd., operated a trailer sales outlet (Chinook Trailer Sales) on a 125-foot-wide lot. The city expropriated the land because it needed clear ownership to go ahead with the giant downtown project. Ownership of the property was the subject of a dispute at the time between Mr. Hoot and Shell Canada Ltd. The land was expropriated in April of 1973 and Mr. Hoot was eventually paid He had purchased the property the year before for and came out ahead by "I wasn't speculating when I bought that he insists. "I had no idea it was going to skyrocket. "I had no idea Woodwards was going to go in there, or I would have tied up things a lot neater than I he says candidly. Now, Mr. Hoot has obtained an appraisal from a Calgary firm of the property's value as of April. 1973 when it was expropriated. That appraisal was based on the sale value of an adjoining property per frontal foot. The firm said Mr. Hoot's property was therefore worth not 356.000 or per frontal paid by the city, a spread of The average sale value of all the properties in the adjoining block along 5th Street north to 4th Avenue S. was per frontal foot. Assessments are based in part on the commercial prospects of a property. Of all the properties concerned, Mr. Hoot's trailer sales lot was farthest from the 4th Avenue main thoroughfare, and from the large Eaton's department store. His property would thus be considered less valuable as fewer prospective customers would pass his front door. Mr. Hoot's complaint will be heard by the public utilities board in May. City solicitor John Hammond says while Mr. has been paid so far. that was not the city's final offer. "It's a question of evaluation." he says. "We agreed we cannot settle on the extreme differences. The board of public utilities has been set up specifically to see that everyone is treated fairly." The board automatically arbitrates all disputed expropriation settlements Landowners oppose 2nd halfway house location By DAVID B. BLY Herald Staff Writer "A halfway house is a good idea and Lethbridge needs one but just don't put it in my neighborhood." This seemed to be the gist of the conversation among a group of landowners who met in a local restaurant Tuesday to sign a petition against the establishment of a halfway recovery house for alcoholics and dependent drug users. The landowners were planning to register an objection against the centre at today's meeting of the Municipal Planning Commission. Norm Briscoe and Jack Rollingson of the Alberta Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Commission, the agency applying for approval of the halfway house, appeared at the informal meeting in an attempt to explain the purpose and effects of the rehabilitation centre. In its second attempt to secure a location the commission is planning to buy a duplex in the 3400 block on Spruce Drive which will become Halfway Recovery Acres. The first attempt to establish such a centre was approved by the MFC. But the owner of the building to be rented backed down because of pressure from residents of the neighborhood. The halfway house, Mr. Briscoe explained, would involve a maximum of eight residents at any one time, most of them staying for "a day and a half." The purpose is to provide a positive environment to a person who is making the transition from a period in an institution to normal life. It would provide accommodation with supervision for people with alcohol or drug problems. "These would be people with positive Mr. Briscoe said. "They will be very carefully screened. It won't be a flophouse for a bunch of drunken bums." The residents of the centre would be those actively seeking jobs. Once employed they would stay at the halfway house until a week or so after their first pay cheque or until counsellors feel they are qual- ified to cope on their own. Alex Neumann, one of those spearheading the opposition to the recovery centre, said the centre could mean heavy losses to businessmen with land investments in the area. "We are not saying we are opposed to this kind of he said. "We wonder if this is the location for it." Mr. Neumann said that even though he knew the centre would not be detrimental to the area, a person interested in buying a house might believe that a halfway house would be detrimental The halfway house would be well maintained, Mr. Briscoe said The residents would be required to be orderly any drinking would mean immediate expulsion from the centre. The grounds would be landscaped and well-tended, he said, and "ill bet every sidewalk in the neighborhood would be kept bare in the winter those men are anxious to prove they can make it." "These things always start out said Ed Bartel, another landowner, "bat in six months or a year they get run down." A real estate agent said the halfway house should improve property values, since it would be better controlled as a recovery centre than it would as a multiple-dwelling unit. "But some people are reluctant to live next door to an said one of the landowners. "Anyone can move in next door to the real estate agent said. "What if he was an alcoholic? The people in the halfway house will be supervised and well- behaved." "We're just trying to protect our own said Mr. Bartel. A representative of the landowners was to have presented the petition and exlained their views to the MFC. "We're not the authority who decides whether the halfway house goes in or said Mr. Neumann. "We just want to put our two bits worth in." Comparison confusing A Idermen face new city budget format By ANDY OGLE Herald Staff Writer Comparing this year's property tax to the 72 mill tax levied in Lethbridge in 1973 is a bit like comparing apples and oranges because part of the tax has been eliminated by the provincial government. Owners of residential property up to and including four-suite apartments will not have to pay the provincial school foundation fund portion of the property tax this year. But since all or part of this portion was' rebated to taxpayers by the government last year, it will mean a tax reduction only for those with large assessments who were paying more in provincial education tax refunds than the maximum rebate. If. for example, the home owner's assessment was large enough that he paid as much as on the provincial education part of his tax, he received back only of that. But this year he won't have to pay any of it for a tax saving. But the move won't change things at all for the homeowner who already received the full amount of that part of his taxes back on the rebate. He'll simply not pay it in and then later get it back as was the case in 1973. Thus while the tax rate on residential property will be lower this year, the actual taxes paid by most people will likely rise since the other parts of the tax rate are going up. The tax structure is made up of city general funds used to provide operating money for the city, a fraction of a mill for the Alberta planning fund, a supplemental education requisition levied bv the local school boards and the provincial school foundation fund, eliminated this year for residential, but not commercial property. The city's portion of the mill rate the only part over which aldermen have control is forecast in the preliminary budget presented to council Monday to rise from 33.16 to 41.65 mills. To the average taxpayer this would represent a to tax jump, but aldermen will likely make cuts in the budget to trim it back to a suggested 2.56 mills in order to live within provincial guidelines. A 2.56 mill city increase would translate into about a to tax hike, for most taxpayers. But the school boards have already approved budgets which require about an extra mill of taxation (13.40 to 14.48 mills) adding another to in taxes over last year. This part of the tax rate is levied by local school boards to meet budgetary requirements over and above the amount they receive directly from the provincial government. The homeowner is thus still paying a part of education costs, but the larger part he used to pay through the provincial school foundation fund is now being met from provincial oil and gas revenue. Last year the provincial education fund represented 25.03 mills on the city tax rate: this year it would have been 27.29 mills. The fund was set up by the provincial government to ensure a minimum standard of education was being provided in all parts of the province. In this way areas with a low tax base which couldn't support a school system on their own were in effect receiving some of the property taxes of richer parts of the province. If all this sounds confusing, pity the poor aldermen who havu a further headache to wrestle with in dealing with this year's city budget. The entire format of the budget has been changed to comply with federal and provincial accounting requirements aimed at standardizing municipal budgeting across the country. Instead of being presented department by department, as previously, the budget is divided up according to functions. There are nine of them, and they include general government services, protective services including the police and fire departments, transportation services, public health and welfare services, environmental development services, recreation and cultural services and education, fiscal services, and utility services. City systems analyst Dick Varley and treasurer Ramsey Vickers have been working on the new style budget since last summer and the final computerized versions didn't roll off the presses until March 15. According to City Manager Ailister Findlay the new system will make budget comparisons in future years much simpler, making one of the more complex responsibilities of an alderman easier. Breakdown of 1973 and 1971 mill rate S City general taxation Alberta planning fund jx Supplemental education requistion Provincial school foundation fund 1973 mill residential mill commercial mill rate Total 72.00 56.58 ;