Friday, January 8, 2021

IN THE NEWS

By Marianne Cole

CCTA Welcomes New Board Member 

At our Annual Meeting on November 9, 2020 we welcomed a new member, Tim Plante from the Arbutus area to our slate of Directors. Tim operates Alhambra Vacuum service and is also on the local Blue Mountain Power Corp. Board. We certainly welcome a new, younger, voice to our group. Another change in the board was the movement of Helge Nome from Director to Vice President. Other positions remained as follows: President: Marianne Cole; Secretary: Susan Durand; Treasurer: Pat Butler; Directors: Al Gaetz, Jim Foesier, Larry Titford, and Jim Pearson. Another important decision made at the meeting was to change the regular meeting dates to the third Wednesday of the month. This will eliminate conflicts with holiday Mondays.

Broadband 

At the December 8th Council meeting there was significant discussion on matters related to broadband/improving connectivity in the County. In the end Council passed one motion to “approve the engineering of County wide fiber to the premises for 80% of the populated area within Clearwater County for grant writing purposes commencing with the rapid responses applications due January 15, 2021.” The engineering will provide more valuable information on the action and related costs of providing fibre optic cable to residences in a large part of the County.

A second motion “that Council approves the preparation and submission of a grant application to the January 15, 2021 Universal Broadband Fund intake deadline for a fibre construction project that includes backbone extension and fibre to as many premises as can be accommodated within the $5million maximum project size for Rocky Mountain House to Ricinus” was defeated. A couple of the points mentioned in opposition to the motion noted that it would be difficult for administration to adequately gather the necessary information for the grant application in such a short time, and that the extra staff time might not be positively used in light of the fact that the grant application is already over-subscribed, lessening our chances of receiving any benefit.

With the engineering information, however, we hope that we will be better prepared for further government grant funding as it becomes available.

2021 Budget 

Council met for two days of budget deliberations on December 16th and 17th. Highlights from the Capital Budget included a reduction of $8, 472, 205 (17.1%) from the 2020 budget ($49, 480, 186) to $41, 007, 981 for 2021. The proposed Operating Budget for 2021 could, on the other hand, see an increase of $3, 707,911 (6.5%). Interesting proposed reductions in this part of the budget included $44, 570 (8.3%) for councillor remuneration as well as reduced spending for the office of the CAO as well as agriculture. On the other hand increases are proposed for public works, corporate services, planning, and emergency services. It will be interesting to see what the actual 2020 numbers are when the audited statements are available later this spring. The question always remains as to how much our county income has been/will be reduced and what implication that has for taxes in 2021

MDP Review 

The process for reviewing our Municipal Development Plan has now been going on for almost a year. This is a document that sets forth the guidelines for land use and development for the next 10 years or more, and has the potential to impact each one of our county residents. The most recent draft was just posted on the County’s website on Monday, January 4th but a hard copy can be picked up at the County office. Because of Covid19 the office is closed to the public but you can call ahead and someone will bring you a copy to the door.

There are some very significant proposed changes to the current MDP, namely:

· More seemingly general ambiguous guidelines as the words “shall” have often been changed to “may”. (e.g. While Clearwater County prefers that industrial and commercial developments be located in a business park, they may approve such for outside a planned business park.)

· Overall reduction in recognizing the value of conserving agricultural land. The conservation of agricultural land has been removed as a goal in the natural capital section (where it was #1 in the 2010 document) and is not stipulated in the agriculture section of this current draft either.

· Proposed allowance of 3 separate titles per quarter, along with the potential for a 4th title. This means there could be up to 3 subdivisions per quarter AND there is absolutely no stipulation of size restrictions on the parcels to be sub-divided.

· Aggregate and resource extraction is proposed to be under a Direct Control District, meaning that County Council alone will be the decision maker for all such applications. This means that in the event of a decision on a development permit application that is unfavorable to either the developer or area residents, there is NO OPPORTUNITY FOR AN APPEAL. (See MGA, Section 641.4-a)

These are just some of the more troublesome guidelines in the new draft of the MDP and it is absolutely crucial that people become involved in expressing their opinion. Because of Covid19 restrictions the County has organized 8 “virtual” open houses starting on January 25th. This means that you can go on your computer, listen to a presentation and then ask questions. You can check Page 28 of the January 6, 2021 Western Star for all dates and times. Such an opportunity is better than nothing but it is hardly as effective as in-person meetings. There are many residents in our County that either do not have computers or have such limited connectivity that a virtual meeting is impossible. IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF A DOCUMENT THAT HAS THE POTENTIAL TO AFFECT ANY RESIDENT OF CLEARWATER COUNTY IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT EVERYONE HAS EQUAL OPPORTUNITY TO GATHER INFORMATION AND EXPRESS THEIR OPINION. THE PAUSE BUTTON MUST BE PRESSED ON THIS PROCESS UNTIL SUCH TIME AS OPEN MEETINGS ARE ALLOWED. WE URGE YOU TO CONTACT YOUR COUNCILLOR AND ASK FOR THIS PAUSE.

Thoughts for the new year

“There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.” C.S. Lewis “Learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow.” Albert Einstein

Up-coming Events

 Due to Covid restrictions being extended there will be no meeting on January 20, 2021. We hope for one on February 17, 2021 at 7:30PM at Arbutus Community Hall.

Board Members 

Marianne Cole, Helge Nome, Susan Durand, Pat Butler, Jim Foesier, Al Gaetz, Larry Titford, Jim Pearson, and Tim Plante.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Letter To Clearwater County Council

 

Dear Clearwater County Council,

I recently had the opportunity to watch Council’s December 8th meeting, noting particularly the discussion on the broadband matters. Certainly, while some of the comments/actions were inappropriate, I felt that generally the discussion was orderly, and some very valuable, concrete, and current information was presented. I am, however, troubled by the outcome of the vote on the second motion put forward by Deputy Reeve Vandermeer. Consequently I am writing this letter as I feel the whole broadband matter may be an important issue during your up-coming budget deliberations, December 16th and 17th.

First of all, I, and many of our Clearwater County Taxpayers’ Association members, support the County’s goal to improve connectivity in our area. We fully support the comments that have been repeatedly expressed that improved connectivity is absolutely necessary to sustain/improve the economy of our County.

While the fibre backbone project is a positive first step, it must be supported by fibre to the premise. Relying only on a fibre backbone project is like seeding a field without putting down some fertilizer as well. The eventual outcome has decreased profitability. As for the County’s connectivity “harvest”, it will be seriously impacted not only by reduced future client income (that could help offset expenses), but also by the diminished potential for a successful grant application. My understanding from the information presented at the meeting was that the federal grant was for Fibre to the Premise. As such I would expect the County to position itself for successful grant application. Furthermore, a backbone does not help a single resident unless there is connectivity from it to the residences.

Other potential methods of improving connectivity are largely unproven, currently unavailable, and likely inefficient in our forested, mountainous, and resident-distanced area. We must move forward now with the most reliable and most efficient tools we have or we will be “left in the dark.” While installing lower quality systems may be less expensive in the short term, they will need to be replaced over time to achieve a service that enables our residents to function and compete in the digital age. Why not do it right the first time??

Furthermore, the installation of extra, unnecessary fibre (going all the way to Olds) must be eliminated. Providing a high quality service for our residents must be the priority. The cost saving by cutting unnecessary installation of fibre to areas OUTSIDE our county could be more efficiently applied to reaching that priority for the residences IN OUR OWN COUNTY. It was also mentioned at the Council meeting that installing fibre to Olds may negatively impact future grant success. Would it not make most sense to position Clearwater County to take advantage of as many grants as possible??

Consequently, I urge Council to direct Administration to proceed with whatever actions are necessary to ensure that we will be adequately prepared to apply for any grant money (provincial or federal) whenever that may become available. Playing offense, and being prepared, should ensure timely, high quality applications that would have a higher chance of being successful. It is completely fool hardy not to attempt to access money that is available as we work to improve the economy and lives of our taxpayers.

In conclusion I trust that Council will consider these comments very seriously as they deliberate the most beneficial and fiscally responsible budget decisions. The financial future is definitely uncertain and doing your utmost to promote the greatest return benefit to the County is crucial.

Yours truly,

Marianne Cole

Saturday, November 7, 2020

In The News

 By Marianne Cole

New Reeve/Deputy Reeve 

Special congratulations to our new Reeve Cammie Laird and Deputy Reeve John Vandermeer. They were chosen by their Council colleagues at their re-organizational meeting on Tuesday, October 27th. We look forward to working with them in the year to come.

Meeting with County Administration 

 On Friday, October 30th six members of the CCTA Board met with CAO Rick Emmons; Murray Hagan, Director of Corporate Services; and Keith McRae, Director of Planning and Development. The almost three hour long meeting provided excellent information and great open discussion on 3 main issues:

MDP Review 

 This has been a major concern for the CCTA as it has seemed that many people are not only unaware the review is taking place, but also don’t know what some of the major suggested changes might be (i.e. allowing 3-4 subdivision parcels out of a quarter with options for sizes greater than 5 acres per parcel).

Administration presented written information reviewing all their efforts to publicize this issue through a special edition newsletter, local newspapers, radio, and social media. Throughout August and September people were encouraged to submit written comments, with a total of 55 received. The results of those are being compiled and will be presented to Council later in November. To alleviate our concerns that open public meetings are necessary we were reassured that staff is investigating both virtual open houses and traditional in person meetings.

Broadband Project 

 As reported in our last Beacon, the County is proceeding with a pilot project to put fibre optic cable into the Ferrier area in an attempt to improve broadband connectivity. Our concerns had focussed on the lack of a business plan with projected costs and potential revenues, as well as questions related to the involvement of local internet service providers (ISP’s). In response to those concerns we were told it is difficult to do a business plan before doing a pilot project. Also we were told that local ISP’s have attended public meetings as well as made presentations to Council. Upon completion of the pilot project ISP’s will have the opportunity to access the County’s fibre optic network.

 Regional Governance 

This is a very concerning issue that could see the joining of the town of Rocky, the Village of Caroline and Clearwater County into one governing body. In order to assess the benefits/disadvantages of such a move, a consultant will be hired and there will be a financial audit and service review conducted. In addition, a committee of representatives from each of the town, county, and village has been struck. The representatives from the County on that committee are Reeve Laird and Deputy Reeve Vandermeer.

County residents have expressed concerns over the fact that our reserves could go to fund the town’s debt and that some of the linear tax we collect from the oil industry (established to cover additional road maintenance costs due to heavy equipment usage) may go to fund the Town’s budget. We will continue to watch these developments and we were assured that public open houses will be held to gather public opinion. WE WILL KEEP YOU IN THE LOOP!!

AGM 

Our CCTA Annual General Meeting will be held on Monday, November 9th at 7:30PM at the Arbutus Community Hall. We will be electing our Executive and Board Members and we really encourage/welcome new member to not only join our organization but also run for office. We could certainly use some younger faces to join the gray-haired “oldies”!!!

Smiles for November: 

What do you call a pig that does karate??? Pork chop.

What has four wheels and flies??? A garbage truck.

What do you call a sleeping bull??? A bulldozer.

Coming Events: 

Monday, November 9, 2020, 7:30 PM, Arbutus Community Hall, Our AGM

January meeting date to be determined at AGM

Note: We do not have a meeting in December.

Monday, September 28, 2020

IN THE NEWS

 

By Marianne Cole

Municipal Development Review Process 

 As mentioned in our September Beacon, the Municipal Development Plan is under review. This is a very important document that will affect resident lives for the next 10-20 years. A number of issues have been raised related to public engagement.

There is a serious need for public meetings so everyone (residents, councillors, county staff, and the consultants) can openly hear the same information related to the concerns and comments on the proposed document. Allowing for only online or printed information restricts open dialogue. Furthermore, those avenues are not only very time consuming but also limit responses by those not technologically adept or well-served.

Timing for the gathering of information and providing responses has been extremely poorly planned. Public consultation (scheduled for August/ September) is occurring at a time when people are on holidays or very busy with haying and harvesting.

There was absolutely nothing in the special newsletter sent out in August showing the struck out clauses in the current plan. The removed clauses represent a drastic change in protecting agricultural land.

There is questionable validation for some of the proposed changes. In the special newsletter, the heading, “What we have heard so far…” is frequently used. This raises the questions, “Who have you heard from?”; “When?”; and “By how many?” At the County Council meeting on Tuesday, September 22, Reeve Tim Hoven noted that the Planning Department had received only 16 submissions to date regarding the MDP review. Were these received before the publication of the newsletter or after??? That is also only 1/10 of a per cent of our approximately 10,000 residents.

Comparing Clearwater’s opportunity with other local jurisdictions for public engagement during their MDP reviews, the following information shows we are seriously lacking. County of Wetaskiwin: Almost a 2 year process, 2008-2010. 3 sets of public meetings before, during, and after draft of document was done. County of Lacombe: 2016-2017 Total of 13 open meetings during 3 rounds of public engagement; total of 440 people in attendance; 469 surveys completed at meetings and online. County of Red Deer: MDP review just completed. Late 2019: 5, 145 surveys mailed out to residents; 1530 valid ones returned. 6 open house meetings held in early 2020. 4 more public input sessions held in August/September following draft completion. People could attend in person or via zoom.

Following a motion passed at our September 14th CCTA meeting a letter was written to our Clearwater County Council requesting that the MDP review process be halted until open public discussion could be held. Unfortunately, though submitted before agenda deadline, a copy of the letter was not included in the agenda package. It was discussed briefly during the CAO report but no motion was made to change the current process.

Broadband Improvement  

In a September 15th 2020 Clearwater County news release, it was reported that “Clearwater County Council was on hand to mark the ground-breaking of the Ferrier Acres Broadband Pilot Project, an approximately $1million initiative that involves the installation of over 15 kilometres of fibre optic cable from Rocky Mountain House to Ferrier Acres. The investment represents a major step for the Core Backbone Broadband Internet Project which aims to provide high-speed internet connectivity to a majority of residents and businesses in the County.”

The Ferrier Acres project is one of 6 that are proposed by the County to be completed within the next five years. Others include: 1. Rocky Mtn. House to Caroline, Sundre, and Olds (2020/21); 2. Rocky Mtn. House to Condor and Leslieville (2022); 3. Hwy. 22/12 to Brazeau & Wetaskiwin Counties (2023); 4. Ferrier to Nordegg (2024); and 5. Hwy. 22/12 to Lacombe County (2025).

The total cost of equipment/infrastructure is $19, 631,000 with an additional operational cost of $1, 030,000 for a total of $20, 661,000. While this is a significant cost there is a serious need for improved broadband service in the County and we commend Council and Administration for their forward thinking. There are, however, some issues of concern with the County’s plans and this will be brought forward at our up-coming CCTA meeting on October 5, 2020, at 7:30PM at Arbutus Community Hall.

Rocky Regional Airport  

Word has just been received about the very unfortunate, untimely death of Ken Fowler and Hannelie Rosdal on Saturday, September 26th. Ken was the long-serving manager of the Rocky Regional Airport. He was a well-known and highly respected member of the aviation community, doing much to encourage tourism and economic development in our area. Our deepest sympathies go out to all.

RANT 

 With the current County Council and their dedication to cooperation and making responsible decisions for the benefit of County residents, it’s been several months since I’ve felt the need to rant. The current MDP review process, however, has changed that. I strongly feel that a document with the potential to seriously impact ALL residents must be developed through a process allowing for the greatest opportunity for OPEN dialogue with ALL parties involved. Sending out information via mail and computer, and allowing for only one way response via letters, emails and phone calls DOES NOT BEGIN TO EQUAL THE VALUE OF OPEN DISCUSSION. Questions cannot be publicly answered and all parties are not aware of the concerns people may have. Ultimately, the support for or against the proposal cannot be adequately evaluated.

I realize that Covid19 has thrown a “monkey wrench” into the process but open meetings can still be held either in person, via zoom, or both. Holding meetings in each division would likely reduce the numbers gathered in one place while increasing the opportunity for public engagement. OR the process could be postponed until such time as public meetings become more accessible. Ultimately, Clearwater County residents must be “awarded” the same privileges for input and response as those in other more accommodating jurisdictions.

Up-coming Events: 

Next monthly meeting, October 5, 2020, 7:30PM, Arbutus Community Hall

Friday, September 18, 2020

 

Marianne Cole, President Clearwater County Taxpayers’ Association 

 RR #1 Rocky Mtn. House, AB T4T 2A1 mcmajic@telus.net September 15, 2020

Clearwater County Council Box 550 Rocky Mtn. House, AB T4T 1A4 

Dear Councillors:

Following a motion passed at our Clearwater County Taxpayers’ Association meeting last night, Monday, September 14, 2020, I am writing this letter to ask that the Clearwater County Council immediately stop the current review process on the Municipal Development Plan and re-start with open public meetings.

Significant discussion took place and concerns focussed on the following issues:

Public meetings are much more productive and necessary in order for all parties involved (taxpayers, Councillors, County staff, and consultants) to hear/validate the actual concerns, questions, and support/lack of regarding the current policies as well as those proposed.

The short timing of the process does not allow for adequate public engagement. It was noted that the County of Wetaskiwin took 2 years for their MDP review process and allowed for 3 open public meetings strategically held throughout the course of action.

There was real concern for the perceived lack of protection for agricultural land, farming operations, and the rural way of life.

The need for increased sub-division opportunities was questioned when several unused locations are currently available.

The increased cost for services, road maintenance, and rural/”urban” type conflicts with increased subdivisions could off-set any potential benefit from supposed residential tax revenue.

While the following were not mentioned during the meeting they have subsequently been brought to my attention:

Relying so strongly on written submissions for public engagement really impedes the opportunity for ALL taxpayer input. First of all it is VERY TIME CONSUMING, not only to read/gather the information, but then to write a response and submit it. All this at a time when people, especially the farming community, are very busy with haying and harvesting.

Written submissions provide lesser opportunity for open discussion and questions to be addressed.

There are a significant number of taxpayers (predominantly the older generation, but also those with poor internet connection) whose opportunity for gathering information and responding with comments is seriously limited without open public meetings.

Because of all the above concerns I reiterate our request to stop any further action on the MDP review until open public meetings are held. This would allow the most beneficial opportunity for all taxpayers to have adequate input into a document that impacts everyone.

In conclusion, we ask that this letter be added to the up-coming agenda for September 22, 2020 and that the request for public meetings be openly discussed by Council at that time.

We sincerely trust that the voice of the people will be of utmost importance and that Council will respond favorably to our request.

We thank you for your consideration on this matter and look forward to your reply.

Yours truly,

Marianne Cole

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

IN THE NEWS

 

By Marianne Cole

CCTA Back at Work 

With things hopefully easing up and/or people adjusting to special safety measures, the CCTA Board has made a decision to resume our monthly meetings. Our first meeting will be held on Monday, September 14, 2020 at 7:30PM at the Arbutus Hall. Social distancing will be in effect and we welcome everyone back to discuss issues facing our County.

Proposed Tax Revisions  

Of greatest concern is the recently suggested reassessment of the taxation model for taxes to be paid by oil/gas companies to rural municipalities on pipelines, oil/gas leases, and various associated installations. Clearwater County could stand to lose between $300M and $1.6B in revenue depending on the format chosen by the UCP government. In return, residents here could face an increase of between 50% and 257% in residential taxes… AND/OR lose significant services.

The proposed changes would present a HUGE problem for Clearwater County along with all other rural municipalities in Alberta. Letters of concern have been sent to our MLA, Premier, Finance Minister, Opposition Leader, and Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). A reply has only been received from our MLA Jason Nixon.

The initiative for this change came from Alberta’s “Top 5” oil/gas industry companies with support from CAPP. Some interesting (???) information on these companies is included here.

2018 SALARY/COMPENSATION PAID TO TOP 5 OIL/GAS COMPANIES IN ALBERTA (The Narwhal, Sharon Riley, June 12, 2019)

1. Suncor Steve Williams (now retired) Salary: $1.466 Million; Total compensation: $14.5M

2. Cenovus Alexander Pourbaix Salary: $1M; Total compensation: $6.6M

3. CNRL Norm Edwards Salary: $1M; Total compensation: $10.6M

4. Imperial Oil Richard Kruger (An American citizen) Salary: $1.2M; Total Compensation: $7.8M

5. Husky Robert J. Peabody Salary: $1.5M; Total Compensation: $7.9M

2019 CEO TOTAL COMPENSATION (The Calgary Herald, Amanda Stephensen, June 26, 2020)

1. Suncor Mark Little $11.72M

2. Cenovus Alexander Pourbaix $9.06M (increase of 38% over 2018)

3. CNRL Tim S. McKay $8.17M

4. Imperial Oil Richard Kruger $8.09M

5. Husky Oil (Collective compensation for top 5 executives) Just over $15M

Foreign ownership figures from Straight.com/finance report: The big five oil and gas producers are all majority foreign owned:

NON CANADIAN SHARES: Husky - 97% Imperial - 94% Cenovus - 72% Suncor - 66% CNRL - 55% So, NO, the TOP 5 are NOT CANADIAN OWNED

We recognize that the oil/gas industry is facing difficult times but so is everyone else. “Robbing Peter to pay Paul” is not a beneficial solution. There is absolutely not guarantee that the financial benefits these companies might enjoy with the proposed changes will, in turn, benefit rural Albertans. In fact with 69 rural municipalities, at an average of 10,000 residents each, 690,000 Albertans could be negatively affected for the benefit of a few. We sincerely hope that these suggested tax changes DO NOT come into effect. 

 Review of the MDP  

The County just sent out a special newsletter with information about the review of the Municipal Development Plan. This is a very important document that governs the use of land in Clearwater County and development guidelines. It is absolutely crucial that people have a say in the rules that will control land use in our county. We encourage everyone to read the newsletter very carefully and voice their opinion on this matter. At this stage the county is taking opinions that they will include in developing the document. Then there will be public meetings to evaluate the guidelines before the final draft is completed. We really need to have our voices heard.

County Happenings  

Site work is progressing at the new Leslieville Fire Hall/Public Works location. Facility completion is hoped for by late fall 2020. Work is also progressing on the installation of services in the proposed “Commercial Core” In Nordegg. This development is to the south, up the hill from the Visitors’ Center and in the area of the church and old CIBC bank. 

September Smiles:

1. What will happen if you continue “stress eating” as a result of Covid19?? The buttons on your shirt will start social distancing from each other.

2. Why did the chicken cross the road? Because he was trying to social distance.

Coming events: 

Monday, September 14, 2020, 7:30PM, Arbutus Hall, Regular Meeting

October meeting date to be determined at September meeting as the regularly scheduled meeting would fall on Thanksgiving Monday.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Extravagant 6,000 sq. ft. Staff Space Approved

By Marianne Cole


With a motion that passed 5 – 2 at their June 9th meeting, Clearwater County Council approved plans for 6,000 sq. ft. of staff space for the proposed new fire hall in Leslieville. Voting for the motion, moved by Councillor Duncan, were Councillors Duncan, Laird, Lougheed, Swanson, and Reeve Hoven. Voting in opposition were Councillors Vandermeer and Laing.

 

The over-sized two story staff space includes meeting rooms, training room, laundry facilities, over-night accommodation, washrooms, showers, 2 saunas, 2 kitchens, and storage space. The “rationale” used to justify the build included the need to support the 11 volunteer fire fighters, preparation for a potential large emergency, and the provision of training space for a third party supposedly interested in operating a training facility. These very same excuses were used to justify the exact same amount of space contained in the recently built Condor Public Services building completed in the fall of 2019. Upon completion of the Leslieville facility there would be 12,000 sq. ft. of staff space within 11 km. of each other.

 

Aside from the unnecessary cost of building the facility there are concerns about the future cost of maintenance, regular cleaning, utility costs, and the absolute lack of concrete information about the phantom training provider. For over a year now it has been mentioned by county staff that a third party is interesting in developing a training operation but there has NEVER been any name mentioned, plans given about their intentions, or facts provided of potential income to be realized from the extra space built, now in two places, to accommodate these ideas. It is noteworthy to mention that at Council’s January Strategic Planning Meeting Councillor Swanson made a motion that Council postpone RFP’s until, among other things, the receipt of a report on the estimated training revenues. No information has been received to date but the motion to proceed with RFP’s was still passed yesterday.

 

Prior to the motion on staff spacing, a motion by Councillor Swanson passed 6 – 1 that Council approve plans for a 3 bay apparatus area. There had been significant discussion re a 5 bay facility vs. a 3 bay one. In the discussion, staff, and certain council members, continued to promote the larger facility, noting the economy of building for the future. In contrast, after questioning the size of equipment to be stored and the size of the bays, Councillor Laing pointed out that in reality only 2 bays are actually needed.

 

There has been significant concern expressed by county taxpayers over the unnecessary over-build and extra costs, especially in light of the current economic situations. In support of their concerns, the Clearwater County Taxpayers’ Association promoted a public engagement meeting in March, made a presentation to Council at their March 24th meeting, and most recently wrote a letter that was sent to Council just prior to this last council meeting. Unfortunately it seems their concerns were largely ignored as indicated by the comments and decisions made yesterday.