County will pay DK $120,000 to run ski shill

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Westlock County will pay DK Consulting Services Ltd. $120,000 to operate and maintain the Tawatinaw ski hill until Sept. 30, 2018 and put in $90,000 for repairs.

The payment is split into two $60,000 deposits — the first, which has already been made, covers Dec. 1, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2017.

The Westlock News finally received a copy of the operators agreement March 27, which replaces the previous three-year $2.2 million lease/purchase agreement the county signed with DK Consulting Services Ltd. in December 2015.

Reeve Don Savage declined to comment, referring all questions to chief administrative officer Leo Ludwig.

“To be clear the County’s net operating costs to the taxpayers in the last two years the hill was operated before the lease were between $250,000 and $300,000 per year,” said Ludwig via e-mail. “A significant difference than the newly negotiated $60,000.”

Also included in the deal is a promise by the county to complete the remaining construction of the ski chalet, including landscaping the property, completing the outdoor decks and an 80-stall parking lot. The contract did not make it clear whether the lot would be paved, or graveled.

The county will also replace four single-wall fuel tanks with double-wall ones, ensure the surface and wastewater issues on the property are resolved, repair erosion on the half-pipe, furnish a generator for the snow-making equipment and replace the water line and hydrants before Nov. 1, 2017. Ludwig estimates the repairs at $90,000.

Construction of the chalet was originally pegged at $1.8 million, however cost overruns have plagued the building and the actual cost of the building is estimated to be between $2-2.5 million.

In the 2015 lease/purchase agreement, the value of the ski lodge was $527,499 less than its original construction costs.

On Sept. 15, 2016, council approved $30,000 worth of repairs to the chalet and planned another $58,000 for the parking lot, backfill around the chalet and sloping earth.

In exchange, DK Consulting Services Ltd. will maintain the property and ski equipment, pay for repairs, utilities, maintenance and cleaning of the property.

The county maintains control over many of the business decisions of the ski hill, including a provision allowing the county to require the discipline and/or removal of ski hill employees who are “unsatisfactory to the county.”

The municipality will be able to request any information involving the facility’s business operations. The county must approve any alterations made to the property in writing.

Councillors approved the agreement following an in-camera session Feb. 28, voting voted 5-1, with Coun. Bud Massey against the deal and Coun. Mel Kroetsch absent.

Massey previously told the Westlock News that he did not think the agreement was a good deal for taxpayers and has since pushed to hold a plebiscite to determine the fate of the beleaguered hill.

If the contract is broken before Sept. 30, 2017, DK Consulting Services Ltd. will be required to return $6,000 for each month that is remaining on the contract. If the contract is terminated before Sept. 30, 2018, then $5,000 for each month between October 2017 to September 2018 will be repaid to the county.

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