Mirror council in disarray; merger with county proposed

Mirror badly needs new leadership after the mayor and two councillors stepped down, leaving the village floundering.
With only two councillors left, the Village of Mirror could not achieve the quorum necessary to run its affairs.
So Alberta Municipal Affairs was forced to assigned an administrator to manage village business until a byelection can be held June 23 to fill the vacant seats.
The latest to resign were Mayor Eric Jerrard and Deputy Mayor Darryl Stanyer.
These March 10 resignations stem from “the most ridiculous power struggle I’ve ever seen,” said Martin Schmitke, who is Mirror’s interim chief administrative officer until next Monday.
That’s when his contract expires and Schmitke said he isn’t interested in renewing it. He noted five or six village staff have quit over council’s difficulties. “It’s an unfortunate, strange situation.”
The only councillors left are Ed Kingston and Luc Bailly.
Councillor George Albers was forced to resign in February under provincial legislation because tax on a property he owns fell into arrears.
But Schmitke said Albers was “innocent” and just caught by blind bureaucracy.
Albers’s daughter, who resides on the property, was supposed to pay the taxes but fell behind for a few months after her husband lost his job.
The former village councillor is now starting a petition calling for a study to assess the pros and cons of the village dissolving and becoming part of Lacombe County.
Albers believes it’s time to consider this option because the village is increasingly short of money to pay for local services and amenities. Taxes keep going up, said Albers. And he believes disagreements over this helped fuel the power struggle between councillors.
Remaining Councillor Bailly confirmed there was dissent over a proposed tax hike of 19.4 per cent, which was lowered to 14 per cent when the town’s budget was finally passed this week.
Bailly would also be interested in seeing the results of a study assessing the benefits of joining Lacombe County.
A village can officially dissolve as an independent municipality to become part of a county as long as a petition carries 30 per cent of villagers’ signatures, said Ryan Cromb, spokesman for Alberta Municipal Affairs.
While the nomination day for the Mirror byelection is May 26, Albers intends to keep pushing for the study to determine if the village should join the county.
Local residents seem mad enough to consider this alternative, said Albers, who is himself “disappointed” with what happened with council. But he added, “Maybe it’s for the better if the village can’t keep going on its own.”