County briefs-May 4

Red Deer County has given the go ahead for a Canada Post initiative to revamp rural mailing addresses.

Mailing addresses to change

Red Deer County has given the go ahead for a Canada Post initiative to revamp rural mailing addresses.

The move to create new mailing addresses is based on the county’s recently completed program to provide new rural addresses to all county properties. It is intended to improve consistency and is expected to help residents give locations to emergency services.

The change will mean that a county resident’s emergency response address — which is based on a combination of range roads and township roads — will also become the mailing address.

When the system is completed, mail will go to an address in “Red Deer County” rather than the name of the nearest town.

The new system will be phased in over a year, likely beginning this summer.

At the same time, the county wants to change addressing in business and industrial parks to an urban-style system.

Tax bylaw passed

Red Deer County council passed a tax bylaw on Tuesday that will increase tax rates an average of two per cent.

The county first unveiled its tax plans three weeks ago, but only gave it first reading to give ratepayers and opportunity to comment or raise concerns.

No comments were received at the county office, said Heather Gray, director of corporate services.

The two per cent increase is designed to cover inflation costs while maintaining existing service levels. The small boost also compensates for a dip in the value of some property assessments.

The county’s operating budget this year is $35.9 million. Another $26.5 million has been earmarked for capital spending.

About $4.8 million will be carried forward from the 2010 budget, mostly from construction projects.

Council also passed an amendment to set up a minimum tax rate of $25 to cover small chunks of land, such as closed road allowances that were previously billed as little as $1.25.

Staff want auction site rejected

Red Deer County planning staff are recommending council reject an application to set up a heavy equipment auction site near Innisfail.

The proponent, listed as a numbered company, wants to rezone a 26.8-acre site about three km south of Innisfail on the east side of Hwy 2 from agriculture to a direct control district.

Staff are opposed because the county’s municipal development plan says that new industrial and commercial development should be located in existing or new industrial or commercial parks. Planning staff recommended first reading be approved to allow for a public hearing so any of those affected could address council.

A date for the hearing has not yet been set but typically they are scheduled a month after first reading.

Airport lands a tax break

Red Deer County has agreed to continue a tax break for the regional airport.

Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to a one-year deal to cover 65 per cent — or $119,000 — of the Red Deer Regional Airport’s 2010 property tax bill of $182,461.

Assistant county manager Ric Henderson said the new deal will give the airport’s board and new CEO the support to determine future priorities. It is expected the first report from CEO RJ Steenstra will be delivered to council next month.

On taking the position, Steenstra said his immediate priorities include maintaining and expanding scheduled air service at the airport. He also wants to see more northern routes, but also scheduled flights west and east, as far away as Vancouver and Toronto.

Raising the profile of the Red Deer Regional Airport is also on the list.

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