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Long list of priorities at next RMWB Council meeting

PHOTO. RMWB Council chambers inside the Syncrude Athletic Park Clubhouse. A special meeting has been scheduled for March 27, 2020. MYMCMURRAY/Phil Wood

RMWB Council comes together for its first scheduled meeting since April 14.

It did meet for an emergency session to discuss flood response and recovery on May 6.

Mayor and Councillors will discuss motions covering flood recovery, COVID-19 response, and support for business and industry.

RMWB Council will also hear the second and third readings of the Fort Chipewyan Social Distancing Enforcement Bylaw.

A redline or updated version of the bylaw includes a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

This version also made exceptions for residents accessing essential services, carrying out employment, and traditional hunting or fishing.

RMWB Council will address the 2020 Property Tax Rate Bylaw.

Property tax revenue dropped by $168-million this taxation year compared to 2019.

Since the 2016 budget, tax revenue decreased by a cumulative amount of $291-million.

The revenue required through property taxes for 2020 is $492,373,825.

If approved, the tax rate ratio for the RMWB would reduce from 12.45 to 1 in 2019 to 7.78 to 1 for 2020.

The Municipality must achieve a tax ratio of 5:1 between the highest non-residential tax rate to the lowest residential tax rate.

Also scheduled to present on this topic is Karim Zariffa, executive director of the Oil Sands Community Alliance (OSCA).

Mayor and Councillors will next decide a motion on Tax Penalty Relief.

The administration recommends the deferral of property tax payments from April 14, 2020, to September 30, 2020, in the Tax Penalty Relief motion.

The administration will also return with a motion on a License Bylaw Amendment during the state of local emergency (SOLE).

“The amendment will require a business to have a Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo address for at least 180 days prior to the date of a state of local emergency being declared.”

The current definitions of resident and non-resident business in the Bylaw don’t include provisions for a SOLE.

Another motion asks the Mayor and Councillors to support a provincial transportation bill for Alberta’s airports.

If approved, Mayor Don Scott would write to the Premier and Alberta’s Ministry of Transportation endorsing Bill 201 or the Strategic Aviation AdvisoryCouncil Act.

“The purpose of the proposed Strategic Aviation Advisory Council is to develop and build Alberta’s aviation industry into a world leader in the aviation sector by supporting economic growth, tourism, and enhancement of services to remote communities within the province.”

Airports in Alberta saw reduced air travel since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn.

RMWB Council meets on May 12, 2020, at 4 p.m. via teleconference.