Assiginack Council Notes – Nov 20-13

Harvest Glory Days winner

Reeve Brad Ham thanked The Manitoulin Expositor for choosing Assiginack as the co-winner of the first Harvest Glory Days community decorating challenge. The reeve and councillors noted the hard work and determination of the community members in decorating their homes and businesses.


Draft budget presented

Assiginack treasurer Deb MacDonald went over the draft 2014 budget with council on November 5.

Under general government, all wages have been budgeted as per the 2014 draft pay grid. A preliminary estimate of a three percent increase for both the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation and the Sudbury and District Health Unit is reflected in the budgeted amounts. An additional $10,000 for building maintenance for both the post office and the municipal office was also added to this year’s budget. If this amount is not used by the end of the year, it should be transferred to a reserve for each building, to help offset any future major building expenses,” Ms. MacDonald explained.

Under protection services, the fire department budget allocation remains the same as in previous years. While the municipality has yet to see the 2014 Ontario Provincial Police costs, a three percent increase was added here as well.

Under environmental services, the budgets for the Manitowaning and Sunsite Estates water treatment plants are currently included without any subsidy amount used as in previous years from Ontario Small Waterworks Assistance Program and last year, the gas tax. The treasurer also included an amount to cover year one of four to repay the amount covered (by the municipality for the residents of Bay Estates), which was taken out of last year’s tax levy. (As reported previously, the water treatment plant at Sunsite had its rates rise by 41 percent this year.)

In the category of health services, the allocation for the cemetery remains the same as in previous years. The ambulance portion of the Manitoulin-Sudbury District Services Board (DSB) will also see a three percent increase, but this is not based on the 2014 apportionment, as it has not yet been received.

This year a budget amount for the medical clinic building was also included, the treasurer explained, which has been missed in previous years. “I have budgeted for $2,000 for this year, and have also included $10,000 to setup a reserve to help cover any future unexpected building related expenses,” Ms. MacDonald said.

In the department of social and family services, Assiginack has not yet received budget information from the DSB or the Manor, so a three percent increase was given here too.

For the most part, the recreation and cultural services portion of the budget remains close to the same as last year, Ms. MacDonald said. However, $3,000 has been added to the arena budget for a surveillance system.

Under planning and development, the budget has allowed for a small increase for the Manitoulin Planning Board levy (not yet received), as well as an additional amount to help offset any remaining costs pertaining to the new Official Plan.

In the corporate capital section of the budget, line items include various reserve repayments, the annual surface treatment program, Cardwell Street reconstruction, landfill expansion, bank loan repayments (water treatment plant and arena) and Burns Wharf Theatre repairs. Another item that will need to be added, Ms. MacDonald explained, is the arena roof financing once the length of repayment has been decided upon.


Planning board front

Reeve Ham noted that the Manitoulin Planning Board has dropped its appeal with the Ontario Municipal Board over a planning decision made by the Northeast Town.

Councillor Paul Moffat questioned, on another note, whether the Northeast Town was still proceeding with its withdrawal from the planning board (as reported in this week’s paper). “As far as I know,” the reeve said.


Assiginack seeks government funding

Council received notice of the Small, Rural and Northern Municipal Infrastructure Program for capacity funding last month.

Assiginack is eligible for $21,278.10.

Council passed resolution 19-13 to authorize the submission of an expression of interest to the fund. If successful the funds would be used toward asset management planning (software, training, inspections, etc.).

A second resolution was also passed, authorizing a submission of interest under the Small, Rural and Northern Municipal Infrastructure Fund Capital Program in the amount of $1,341,250 for the replacement of the filtration membrane in both the Manitowaning and Sunsite Estates water plants.

Council discussed filter options, all of which are expensive. Zenon filters would cost the municipality approximately $500,000 to replace and last for eight years. Reeve Ham noted that the Sheguiandah and South Baymouth water treatment plants use the “slow sand” filtering process.

“We’ll first ask for the money and then see what will fit into the footprint we have at the plants,” the reeve said.


Seniors’ housing group

The reeve explained that he and clerk-treasurer Alton Hobbs met with a group of local senior citizens interested in forming a committee to look into the need for affordable seniors’ housing in Assiginack. The group explained that they would like to do a survey to assess the need for seniors’ housing.

“If there’s a willing group to take this on, that’s great,” Reeve Ham said, noting that he warned the group that this venture must not be taxing on municipal staff.

“It’s good to have groups that are interested,” Councillor Brenda Reid said. “There seems to be this perception that council turns down everything, but that’s just not the case,” she added.


New arena rates

At the recommendation of the recreation committee, the Assiginack arena will see a slight increase in rates through a motion passed by council, a first since 2010.

“We have an excellent facility and the rates should reflect this,” Councillor Moffat said.

The new hourly rates, including HST, are as follows: prime time, $90.40; minor hockey, $73.45; school/special children’s’ programs, $33.90; men’s and women’s tournaments and fundraisers, $73.45; family season public skating pass, $67.80; single season pass, $56.50; adult daily rates, $4; and children’s daily rates, $2.

It was noted that the Little Current arena rates are $110.50/hour, including HST for prime time (3 to 10 pm and weekends from 10 am to 10 pm). This rate drops to half price if rented for the day or in slower times.

Mindemoya falls in the $70 range, with Wikwemikong coming in at $105.


Assiginack supports Student Aid Fund

Once again, Assiginack will be supporting the Manitoulin Student Aid Fund with a $300 bursary at the Manitoulin Secondary School’s 44th annual Awards Night on December 18. Reeve Ham will be attending to hand out the award.


Cutback on winter meetings

Council passed a procedural bylaw at its last meeting, bylaw 13-20, to change the regular schedule of council meetings. The first regular meeting will be held on the first Tuesday of each month between January and April at 7 pm. The public works meeting will be held the third Tuesday of each month, also between January and April, at 5 pm in the council chambers.