Council passed its annual borrowing bylaw, allowing the township to secure financing of up to $290,000 to cover early-year expenses until tax revenues begin to come in. This is roughly the same amount as the past few years; deputy treasurer and tax collector Barb Deforge told council that the financing had not been used in past years but would serve as a preventive measure.
Councillors had several questions about items on the township’s cheque log. These included a monthly bill from Green For Life Environmental for its contract which includes two extra bins, a bill from Tulloch Engineering for building assessments and beaver dam removal for $2,977.60.
Councillor Michael McKenzie said he was extremely concerned with more charges to remove and replace LED lights in the fire hall as it seemed to be happening regularly. There was approximately $1,500 in expenses in this category in November and December.
The councillor also expressed concerns about some of the names on the fire department roster who have serious health challenges; Ms. Deforge replied that some, if not all of the volunteers had to pass medical exams.
He also requested an update at the next meeting about the township’s ongoing legal issues in response to expenses to legal companies.
Reeve David Jaggard asked about the township purchasing a flag for the fire department, worth $1,064.12. The flags are used for honour guards and parades.
Upcoming budget meeting
Council set the following Tuesday, January 19 for its next budget deliberation meeting.
Councillor Eric Russell asked about how the meetings would proceed because of the increased restrictions against public gatherings. Most councils on Manitoulin have held their meetings virtually via Zoom to model physical distancing behaviour, and Tehkummah will proceed on Zoom now that a stay-at-home order is in place.
Tehkummah held two meetings via Zoom last year but resumed in person once restrictions eased.
A public health spokesperson clarified to The Expositor that while such indoor gatherings weren’t advised, they weren’t technically illegal because of an exemption allowing government functions to continue during the lesser restrictions of the past year. However, the spokesperson said everyone would have had to remain two metres apart and wear masks. The councillors have sat apart but generally have not worn masks.
Tehkummah has been paying for a monthly Zoom subscription since last year despite holding most
meetings in person since then.
Council deferred an information package about its insurance renewal until the following week’s budget meeting, so they could factor it into the 2021 financial planning process.
Council received updates from the Manitoulin Phragmites Project about its 2020 work progress and another from the North Shore and Manitoulin community-owned fibre-optic internet project.
Councillor Lorie Leeson told council that she had gotten together a recreation committee and outlined plans for its first activity, a Valentine’s Day fundraising and outreach initiative for community members. She requested that council support the proposed idea and to recognize the committee so it can continue to operate independently of the council table. Council agreed to support the Valentine’s Day offering and get further details to formalize the committee at the budget meeting in the following week.