Council ups gravel prices, triples rig inspection fees
Mountain View County council adopted a new fee schedule last week that raised the price of gravel to bring it more in line with private industry and also tripled the fees for rig inspections.
Presenting a list of possible gravel prices based on the last three years of sales, administration told council that if the current price of $7.08 per tonne were increased to $9.50 the county would have covered its own cost and made about $1,000 in profit, compared to $15,000 in profit at $10.
When asked for the county’s cost of production from the two primary East Side pits, where gravel is scarcer, administration calculated the average at $11.74 per tonne.
“Sounds like 12 bucks to me,” Div. 1 Coun. Kevin Good said.
“I would support going to $10 – except for the two east pits and going to $12 for those,” Div. 6 Coun. Paddy Munro said.
Div. 3 Coun. Duncan Milne said he agreed with Munro about the East Side pits.
“We can’t sell it for less than production,” Milne said.
The motion carried unanimously.
At $10 per tonne, the county’s price will be higher than most of the prices quoted from six privately owned pits listed by staff at the previous week’s policies and priorities committee budget meeting.
Last week, administration had not recommended a separate price for the East Side pits, saying a single price was presented “for simplicity of managing” the service.
“I don’t think we’re so concerned about simplicity of managing it,” Munro said. “We wanna get our costs in line.”
Munro also pushed to increase the fees for rig move inspections, saying he couldn’t imagine a pre-inspection or post-inspection being done for the current rate of $100 and the county recovering its costs.
“It should be $300 to $500 – those would be more realistic numbers,” he said.
“We are making revenue on these items,” Ryan Morrision, manager of infrastructure projects and technical services, responded. “We’re not making a lot of money, that’s for sure, but we are covering our costs.”
Morrison said inspections are usually done in batches and some roads are inspected three or four times a month.
“We still have to look at these as one-offs – we can’t assume he’s doing 10 (inspections),” Munro said. “I would strongly suggest it be at least $300.”
Div. 7 Coun. Al Kemmere said he understood what Munro was getting at but suggested staff bring back documentation, as it had with gravel prices, and Div. 5 Coun. Bob Orr asked if staff could provide comparisons with other counties.
“I agree with what Bob’s asking – I’d like to see what other counties are doing before we get carried away,” Milne said. “We heard we were making a little bit. But to triple it, I would question that.”
Munro said he would question the accounting.
“We have a man, a truck, they go out to a site, they inspect a site, they talk to people, they come back and write a report. What can you get for a hundred bucks these days? I don’t see us subsidizing the oil and gas industry.”
Munro’s motion – to raise rig move inspection fees from $100 to $300 and commercial access road inspection fees from $150 to $300 – passed with Kemmere opposed.
Later in the meeting, Morrison quoted current inspection fees for Kneehill, Rocky View, Red Deer and Clearwater counties, concluding that the $100 fee was “a little lower but in the same ballpark as the others, except Red Deer, which was $350.”
Munro pointed out that Clearwater also has a policy that prohibits overloads on paved roads.
“They take it very seriously,” he said. “I still support $300. I think it’s reasonable.”
Under the planning section, the new fee schedule also includes a reduction for some Direct Control applications.
Interim planning director John Rusling said the change was prompted by a recent application in Division 7 where the $7,000 blanket fee seemed excessive for a mere two-acre parcel.
The new fee starts at a flat rate of $1,025 per application, with $250 per acre added up to a maximum of $7,000.
Presenting the change at a P&P budget meeting last month, Rusling said he was confident the county would be able to cover the cost of producing a Direct Control bylaw under the new graduated rates.