Tehkummah Council Notes

Public participation

Loretta Mucha asked whether council would be advertising in Manitoulin’s Magazine this year. Generally, the South Baymouth Little Schoolhouse and Museum conducts the majority of the fundraising with the municipality covering the remaining amount. Ms. Mucha will offer an amount to the township for its next meeting, when council will vote on the item.

Paul Bowerman asked that care for burial sites be included in the 2019 budget and presented figures on past township contributions for similar initiatives. He expressed disappointment that nobody from council had contacted him after he submitted photos and a request on March 6 to speak at the previous meeting.

Reeve David Jaggard said council had not seen the photos he had submitted. Mr. Bowerman said he was hoping to move forward and show respect to the dead, and that he would return to the next meeting.

Delegation

Resident George Kopylov gave a delegation to council on his budget questions and concerns. These included a call for marina and camping rates to increase at the same rate as the taxes in the interest of fairness, a suggestion to add the South Baymouth Marina to Google Maps for free, implementing self-serve fees at the Michael’s Bay boat launch, improvements to the website and reducing street lighting expenses.

He shared concerns about landfill costs and revenues and offered some suggestions to improve the situation at the site.

Procedural bylaw updates

Deputy clerk-administrator Barbara Grigg offered some changes to Tehkummah’s Procedure Bylaw. These included changing the title of clerk-treasurer to clerk-administrator, changes to minute approval timelines and a change to one scheduled meeting per month instead of two.

Councillor Eric Russell was opposed to having one meeting per month, saying that it was impractical and a step backwards.

Budget exclusion report

Clerk-administrator Roy Hardy presented a budget exclusion report, something he said was a regulatory requirement. This included long-term financial liabilities such as amortization expenses, post-employment benefit expenses and an estimate of landfill post-closure costs.

Investing in Canada Infrastrucutre Program (ICIP)

Mr. Hardy presented a verbal report about the town’s Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF) application to rehabilitate the 10th Sideroad. OCIF has suggested Tehkummah redirect its OCIF application to the federal ICIP Rural and Northern Stream where, if it’s resubmitted without changes, it will be in a special pool of applicants that have been redirected from OCIF.

Changes to the program include a longer roll-out timeframe (until 2026) and a lower municipal contribution (OCIF was 10 percent, ICIP only requires 6⅔ percent of the project costs from the municipality). 

Mr. Hardy said this funding could also possibly be used for the Rogers Creek Bridge project. Council approved applying to the ICIP fund.

Unconditional provincial grant

Mr. Hardy told council the province will be providing small municipalities with a one-time unconditional grant, meaning they can use it for any purpose so long as its aim is to “improve efficiency.” The grant is worth $228,000. The money will be put into an interest-bearing account until council formulates a plan, and he strongly recommended it be used for capital upgrades, not operating costs.

Staffing and hiring policy

Tehkummah’s policy on this topic was developed in 2008 and is being refreshed. Council largely expressed strong interest in being involved in the hiring process. Reeve Jaggard suggested council could make a shortlist for positions but leave the interviewing to the clerk, the direct supervisor of the position and one councillor.

Mr. Hardy said that having the policy require the whole council be part of the interview process can be a hassle and that he had seen circumstances in the past where councils or staff made selections without hiring managers and caused major conflicts in the roles. 

He said that while council was elected to represent the public, the town staff like the clerk-administrator were there to help with other operations such as hiring. Having council involved in interviews can also muddy the chain of command for workplace disputes, he said.

Councillors Michael McKenzie, Lorie Leeson and Russell were strongly in favour of having council directly involved in the interview process, but Councillor Rick Gordon supported the proposal of having interviews conducted by the proposed panel and deferring to the hiring advice of the department head and clerk.

Council resolved to defer the item until a later date.

Marina space rental

Council received a request to rent the space at the South Baymouth Marina by Tina Bolonga, who rented the space for a coffee shop during part of last summer. Council moved the discussion to the closed session and resolved to tender the rental offer.

Easter egg hunt donation

Residents Linda Bowerman, Yogi Martin and Rhonda Middaugh requested a donation to help fund the Easter egg hunt. Although council was in favour of the event taking place, Councillor Leeson had concerns about last year’s event and said the three organizers, who also ran last year’s event, had raised a substantial amount of money from community donations, “enough to probably do a few years,” she said.

Council resolved to offer $100 to the Easter egg hunt, with a recommendation for the volunteers to work with the recreation committee in the future.

Budget

Mr. Hardy presented an updated budget which accounted for the funding program change, the doubling of the federal gas tax (up to $52,814), fewer council meetings, the elimination of the $50,000 loan and other adjustments.

The modified total tax levy dropped in the draft budget from 7.5 percent to 5.4 percent, with the mil rate increase dropping from three percent to one percent.

Councillor McKenzie strongly believed that the mil rate should be split in the middle at two percent, with the extra percentage point (roughly $11,000) being deposited directly into the township’s reserves for future growth potential. This is still a lower tax rate than initially forecasted but provides for some future planning considerations.

Councillor McKenzie also wanted to further discuss council honorariums and registered a notice of motion on the item for the next meeting. Council was in favour of the two percent mil rate increase and Mr. Hardy will prepare a user fee bylaw and tax rate bylaw to adopt the budget at the April 23 meeting.