This column reports on council meetings from my personal viewpoint and includes comments the reader may not agree with.
In all things there are three sides to a story – my truth, your truth and the real truth.
November 22 Committee of the Whole Meeting
I was not able to attend this meeting therefore the summary is made from the video posted on the DOL website. The Mayor and all Councillors were present at this meeting. I believe that staff present would have been Mr. Campbell, Ms. Coates, Ms. Slater, Mr. Young, Mr. Spears and Mr. Rukus.
The meeting started with adoption of the agenda as presented. The purpose of the COTW meeting was to continue review of the 2019-2023 Five Year Financial Plan.
November 19 COTW meeting minutes
Council approved the meeting minutes which was minimal as the purpose of the COTW was to have an in-camera meeting. This is first in-camera meeting for the new council.
a) 2019-2023 Five Year Financial Plan Continued
Director of Financial Services, Jamie Slater, reviewed changes to the Plan if budget items that were to be funded by general surplus would now be funded through property taxes. If there were no other changes to the Plan, the tax increase would be approximately 7.03% over 2018 representing $76 increased based on an average assessment of $630,945.
Again, have to note that not everyone used their microphones. Hopefully as we go forward, councillors and staff will remember.
Review of the Financial Plan started with Non-core items (not annual spending). Councillor Savage had circulated a motion before the meeting (I did not get a copy) requesting a village core improvement reserve fund be created (“all residents were on board”). Included in the handout was 4 alternative ways to fund this new Reserve Fund. The 4 choices were not discussed by Councillors. The motion made by Councillor Savage and seconded by Mayor Swain was to recommend to Council to instruct staff to create a village core improvement reserve fund and to identify funding sources. The motion carried unanimously. Council discussed various projects that the funds may be used for improvement in the area plus whether or not the funding should be from property taxes or from surplus. Councillor Savage suggested that the funding source be surplus funds as he did not have time to study the impact of an increase to property taxes if property taxes were the source of funding.
Motion was made to amend non-core items Fire Service and Planning from surplus to taxation. Councillor Savage opposed.
Councillor Savage stated he had heard from residents that hiring consultants needed to stop for next year as too many consultants were hired during the last council terms (that remark sounds like something a former councillor would say). Motion made and carried to move the Sewer Master Plan cost of $100,000 from 2019 to 2020. Councillor Proctor opposed.
Councillor Proctor moved that council reinstatement of $5,000 annual contribution to Parks Development Reserve Fund which would be funded from taxation. Motion carried.
Councillor Savage asked if the Firefighter remuneration and legal fees were non-core items. CAO confirmed these items were core items.
Mayor Swain moved the discussion to Tab 7 Capital Budget. When councillors were asked if they had any comments, there was a pause as Councillors were unaware of the line items and had to take time to review Tab 7. Really, why aren’t you prepared?
Mayor Swain asked staff to explain why $75,000 was budgeted for the creation of additional office space in the Fire Hall. Did he forget that item had been approved by the previous council on which he was a councillor? Mayor Swain also asked why this item plus the $25,000 for a renovated kitchen was budgeted when the Fire Hall would need to be rebuilt in the future. Now that perked me up. Why does the Fire Hall need to be rebuilt? Is there something wrong with the Hall? Mayor went on to say (like a former councillor) that Council was accountable to residents. Councillor Wilson asked staff to explain the cost of the E6 truck replacement. Fire Chief Rukus explained the truck was being built to DOL specifications and was cheaper than buying a truck and then having it upgraded. The truck will be delivered in February 2019. Councillor Proctor asked staff to explain the costs of upgrades to Costin Hall and the Heritage Church. This question then encouraged the comment of building a new community hall which the Mayor stated was beyond the financial ability of the DOL to build.
During review of Tab 8 Reserve Funds, Council reviewed water parcel taxes and the tax stabilization fund.
Tab 4 Core Items were reviewed next during which Councillor Savage recommended a $1 per hour increase to the non-salary firefighters (sounds like a former councillor). CAO advised that the previous council had moved to have the rates tied to the CUPE rates which were increasing this year by 2%. Director Slater confirmed that the $1 increase, if hours stayed the same as in 2018, would represent approximately $4500 total increase to the budget item. Councillor Savage moved that firefighter remuneration by increased by $4500 to be proportionally plus the increase of CUPE 2%. Motion defeated with Councillor Savage in favour. Councillor Savage requested that $51,000 legal fees item by reduced (didn’t say by how much). CAO did not recommend lowering due to ongoing and possible new legal situations and confirmed that any funds not used would be transferred to General Surplus fund.
During review of Tab 3 General Government, Mayor Swain moved to remove the $10,000 Costin hall and Heritage Church Plan item and to remove E&N trail of $500,000. Both motions carried.
CAO advised that a motion from staff would be considered at the next council meeting to survey Lantzville Rd from Wiles Rd to Huddlestone Rd for a cost of $9,000.
The 2019-2023 Five Year Financial Plan Deviation Explanation report was not reviewed.
The meeting adjourned at 7:50 PM.
There were no public in the gallery as stated by the Mayor.