Council Meeting Q&A

Question Period is a portion of each Council meeting in which residents may ask questions of Council.

Question period will change in 2017 to ensure public questions are tracked and responses are published as appropriate. Watch for more details on the City’s website in January 2017.

December 19, 2016 Meeting

The following questions were asked by the public at the December 19 Council Meeting. These answers were provided directly to the individual who asked in addition to being published on the City’s website. Some questions have been paraphrased for clarity. Questions better answered by an external body were provided to them for a response.

1. In the budget presentations, staff identified FTEs. It appears that the average wage for planning and roads is $92,000, for administration at City Hall is over $90,000, and for emergency services is over $85,000. The average wage of Alberta in 2015 was only $62,400. Chestermere per capita made $730 in wages versus Strathmore which paid $639. Why are our wages so high? Is it a result of the high cost living in Chestermere, or something else?

The Compensation Philosophy in the Pay Principles and Pay Administration Policy approved by Council states that the City strives to maintain a compensation program which balances external competitiveness with internal equity and financial ability to pay.

In order to meet these requirements, the City participates in an externally conducted salary survey of market comparators. Market comparators are defined as municipalities in the Province of Alberta that have been selected as comparator organizations based on similarities in size and geographic location. Our comparator municipalities are Airdrie, Beaumont, Brooks, Cochrane, High River, Lacombe, Leduc, Okotoks, Rocky View, Stony Plain and Strathmore.

When comparing market data, the City strives to have salaries for most jobs that are targeted at the median of our comparator market. An external consultant has confirmed that our salaries do target the median of our comparator market. According to Alberta Learning Information Service, the average 2015 hourly wage for the public administration sector was $36.64 which equates to $71,448.00 per annum based on a 37.5 hour work week.

The City of Chestermere’s average salary per annum in 2015 for full time employees working a 37.5 hour work week was $71,700.00.

For more detailed information, including a comparison of CAO salaries and benefits, read the full report here.
2. Has there been enough money through offsite levies that have been collected over the past 9 years, including the life cycle fund since 2014 to pay for the upgrades on the existing waste water system to account for the residents that currently live here?
Off-site levies do not pay for upgrades to the existing system. They are legally required to be used for the costs of new growth, not existing facilities.

3. Have the water meters that were removed from the City a few years ago when CUI was brought into force been re-installed on City property?

No water meters were ever removed. Additional meters have been placed in some municipal areas, such as parks. For more information about specific locations, please contact the Parks team at (403) 207-2807.

4. Will there be any further information provided for residents on Mr. Bowman’s recommendations regarding the rate increase request?

InterGroup Consulting presented its findings and recommendations to Council at their regular public meeting on December 19. Council asked questions of Patrick Bowman to clarify items in the report.

Residents can read InterGroup Consulting’s full report in the December 19 agenda, which is available online at our AgendaCenter

5. Will questions and response to questions be made public?

Responses from the December 19 Council Meeting have been published on the City of Chestermere website.

The City will be making changes to its public question period in 2017 to ensure public questions are tracked and answers are published as appropriate.*

Watch for more details about how to participate in question period on the City’s website in January.

*Note: Response has been amended from the December 19 meeting to respond to public requests to make answers publicly available.

6. Tenants are provided with water meters and they have to pay for them in accordance with the City’s bylaw. If they do not pay for them, the payments are deferred to the land owner. When will this bylaw be changed?

Answer pending.

7. Recently, the City’s open houses have been held at the Landing, Camp Chestermere, Golf Course and more. Why have they not been at the Chestermere Regional Recreation Centre? This facility should be supported more than private business and it is also more central.

Most open houses are hosted by the developer; the City does not pay for these events nor do we help select the location.

For City-led open houses, we try to accommodate all Chestermere residents by using a variety of different locations. We support as many non-profits and businesses as possible in Chestermere.

The location for an open house also depends on room availability and proximity to the project in question.

8. What is the turnover rate for City staff in the last few years?
Our turnover percentages since 2012 are as follows:
2012: 37.5%
2013: 28%
2014: 34.5%
2015: 17%
2016: 6%

The City has been working to reduce the number of employees who voluntarily leave the organization. Our retention strategy includes compensation and benefits management, role clarity, performance management, and a welcoming workplace.

9. Do any of the Councillors have anything they would like to say to the public gallery regarding the current public’s concern about the City’s expenses, taxes and CUI rate increase?

Multiple answers and statements were given from each Councillor. Please reach out to any Councillor to discuss their views on the CUI rate increase or the City’s budget and taxes.

10. Water leaks are happening which are not caught by CUI and are costing families money. Could notification of leaks be added as a service?

As the regulatory body for utilities, we will refer this request to CUI for their consideration.

11. A utility committee was proposed by Stack’d Consulting in its November 21, 2016 report. City Administration requested that this be deferred as it could not be done in time for the current rate setting process. When will this committee be established and how will it be decided on who sits on it? What benefit will be gained by having Council members on it?

The 2016 Interim Rate Setting Process solicited third party expertise on the 2017 rate request in lieu of establishing a utility committee. This was done to ensure the review was as thorough and accurate as possible, given the time constraints after Stack’d Consulting’s final recommendation.

We will use our learnings from the 2016 Interim Process to help guide 2017 activities. As such, the committee composition is currently undecided. Council representation, third party expertise, and resident participation may be considered.

The mandate for this committee will be established in 2017 and will be ready for the 2018 rate setting process.

12. Do you feel CUI was a good thing to implement four years ago?

Yes. CUI, as a wholly-owned entity has the potential to drive strong operational and financial performance to help the City achieve its strategic objectives for utilities, mitigate risks, and minimize costs.

As part of the full Mandate and Rate Regulatory Review, Council asked Stack’d Consulting to assess whether or not CUI should remain a corporation or if the utility should return to a City department. Stack’d recommended that CUI remain as a separate corporation based on financial value, achieving the City’s strategic objectives, and industry best practice.

On September 19, Council accepted the third party consultant’s recommendation. For more details, visit this page

13. Is the 15% rate increase including the perceived cost for the inclusion of the carbon tax? Has the same been considered for the City Council budget?

Yes, the 2017 budget does include the carbon tax.

14. Has CUI considered providing rebates to residents on fixed incomes?

As the regulatory body for utilities, we will refer this request to CUI for their consideration.

15. Next year, could residents have at least 10 days for an opportunity to ask questions regarding CUI and City submissions?

Yes, this will be a consideration for the process going forward. Thank you for the suggestion to help improve our processes.