Assiginack on budget
On November 25, Assiginack council held a budget meeting with members of staff. The result of the two-hour conversation saw numerous decisions made as to where money should be spent in the municipality in 2014.
On the topic of roads, council will re-build Holiday Haven Road at a cost of $95,000 and South Bay Drive at $70,000.
Council also made the decision to proceed with researching a move for the Assiginack Public Library, as the current library has considerable space restraints. A move would be budgeted at $335,000 to be funded over a 10-year period, beginning in 2014.
Council also budgeted for $5,000 to prepare for a new zoning bylaw development and a further $5,000 for renovations at Burns Wharf Theatre. A further $35,000 was also designated to resurface the tennis courts.
Under the heading of fire services, council approved the purchase of a generator system in 2013, which will be completed in 2014, but funded from the 2013 reserves. The department will also purchase an air cylinder refilling system, also funded from the existing reserves.
Should the Northeast Town leave…
After reviewing the Manitoulin Planning Board minutes from November 6, Reeve Brad Ham noted that planning board treasurer Elva Carter “did the figures” should the Northeast Town go ahead with its plans to leave the planning board. Assiginack would see its share rise from 11 percent to 16 percent, meaning a $6,000 annual increase.
Accounts for payment
Council approved the accounts for payment, $68,938.88 in the general account and $15,694.63 payroll.
Assiginack council received correspondence from the Municipality of McDougall regarding its recently passed resolution, which opposes the new billing model for Ontario Provincial Police services starting in 2015. The resolution was sent to all rural Ontario municipalities with a permanent population of 10,000 or less.
A letter from Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha to the Honourable Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, was copied to Assiginack council.
The letter states, “I am writing to you on behalf of many communities within my riding struggling with physician recruitment in order to provide accessible health care for constituents…Northern Ontarians must often travel great distances, incur exorbitant financial expenses and experience long wait times in order to access the basic healthcare they are entitled to. Without funding and support, our smaller communities are struggling to recruit general practitioners who may be willing to relocate and practice in Northern Ontario.”
Mr. Mantha urges the minister to devote her attention, and funding, to the issue.
Council also received a notice from the Association of Municipalities in Ontario (AMO) regarding “two matters of significance for all municipal governments.”
The first matter pertains to the Transit Investment Strategy Advisory Panel report that was recently released and its recommendations that new dedicated revenue for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area’s transit projects come from a combination of sources, including added gas tax and corporate income tax and HST revenues, which would raise between nearly $3 billion and $3.3 billion.
The AMO questions what effect the province-wide tax increases would have on regional/local economies outside of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas; how this revenue would be allocated to municipalities outside of this area, what would be eligible and how transparency would be achieved; and would the economic impact of infrastructure investments in the regions identified outweigh the impact of increased costs to business and residents.
The second matter is regarding the Municipal Elections Bill. This Bill advances the date when terms of office would commence by two weeks (from December 1 to the second Monday in November), shortening the ‘lame duck’ period to reflect the lame duck period prior to 2010.
In regards to the latter, clerk-treasurer Alton Hobbs said he was doubtful it would be enacted in time for the next election.
Speaking on the first matter, Councillor Leslie Fields said she would like to see a Northern voice to say that should Ontario municipalities accept a gas tax hike, that the province institute gas price uniformity province-wide.
“If they can keep whiskey and milk the same price, they should be able to keep gas at the same price,” she said.
Further to AMO discussion, Mr. Hobbs noted that the organization has created an online course for those residents interested in sitting on a municipal council.
Council commended staff for their excellent work on keeping the roads clear following all of the snow received in recent weeks and asked roads super Ron Cooper to pass along their gratitude.
Reeve Ham reminded council that Santa Claus would be making his annual Christmas Eve to the “big tree” on Queen Street between 7 and 7:30 pm.