Councillors partially waive lease fee

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After a lengthy debate that included an in-camera session County of Barrhead decides lease holder needs to take some responsibility for lost revenue

A County of Barrhead resident will have to pay a portion of a missed lease payment he has with the county.

That is the decision made Sept. 4 after councillors heard from Donald Koberstein who had asked the county to waive a lease payment, valued at $1,614.38 he has with the county to farm a 45-acre piece of property near the Johnston Airport. Later in the meeting, after an in-camera session, councillors voted 5-2 to reduce the payment to 25 per cent, $403.60, as well as waive the interest accrued. Councillors Dennis Nanninga and Marvin Schatz were opposed.

The lease agreement runs Jan. 1, 2017 to Dec. 31, 2021, and two equal payments of $1,614.38 are due on, or before April 1 and Nov. 1 each year.

County manager Debbie Oyarzun noted Koberstein is up to date in payments except for the Nov. 2017 one.

“The previous tenant [whose lease expired Dec. 31, 2016]didn’t get his crop [canola]off until June 7 so we were quite far behind and everything was just a mess so we thought it was in our best interest and that of the property to summer fallow it,” he said, adding they did pay the first payment. “Because we didn’t crop anything last year I am asking that the second half of that be forgiven.”

Koberstein added he and his partner Brian Koberstein are asking the county to waive the payment, not because they can’t pay, but on principle.

“It’s not a large sum, it wasn’t our fault that we weren’t able to crop the land,” he said. “I think it [previous tenant’s crop]could have been taken off much earlier because we have land right next to it and we saw corn in on May 7, but there was no urgency on the former tenants part because he was done and wasn’t renewing the lease again.”

Coun. Marvin Schatz asked if Koberstein was able to claim unseeded acreage through crop insurance.

Koberstein admitted they could have probably have made a claim, but they decided against it.

He also said due to the shape of the land it is difficult to manage.

“Probably the best thing to do is to put it into forage. You don’t have to try to get in there with big equipment and attempt to go around those holes and at the airport, you would have to cross its grass,” Koberstein said, adding now that they have everything squared away they plan to plant with green feed.

Coun. Darrell Troock noted because the area is near the airport he thought the lease agreement stated the tenant needed to use it for forage.

“We don’t want grain in because that just attracts a bunch of birds and that becomes a safety issue for the users of the airport,” he said.

Koberstein agreed, saying the lease agreement states that it can’t be seeded with a crop that attracts birds. More specifically it forbids the planting of peas and corn.

Troock said in addition to peas and corn, wheat and barley should also be prohibited.

“I don’t care when you plant it, [they will come]it doesn’t matter at what time of year they come it is still a safety issue,” he said.

However, Koberstein noted that if he decided to plant barley, or a similar crop it shouldn’t be a problem as long as it was harvested before it went to seed.

Discussion then moved in-camera and shortly after which councillors Bill Lane and Darrell Troock then moved that council waive 50 per cent and 100 per cent of the payment, respectively, both were defeated.

Schatz and Coun. Ron Kleinfeldt disagreed with the percentage saying the Kobersteins had an opportunity to make revenue with the land, whether it was through crop insurance, or other means.

“They have to take some responsibility because they had the opportunity to do several other things,” Kleinfeldt said, moving to reduce the bill by 75 per cent.

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