The agenda was light again for the March 5th Council meeting. The minutes have not yet been posted to the Town site but we’ve captured a brief summary for you below.
Dept of Recreation, Facilities and Culture Notes
Alderman Johnston presented an overview of the Feb 21st meeting and noted that the proposed budget will be presented to Committee of the Whole. The report included in the agenda notes an initial “tax assistance increase” of 9.6%, although at Council she stated it as 8.76%.
From page 25 of the agenda:
The proposed 2018 combined budgets (Operating and Capital) have a total tax commitment of $3,141,600. This is a proposed tax assistance increase of $275,360 or 9.6%. The following items highlight key changes in the budgets collectively. Many of these changes
- Network Service Charge Increases $34,250
- Full Year Wage and Benefits Difference from new staff of 2017 $62,720
- Minimum Wage Increase Impacts $42,780
- Additional Staff—Park Labourer 1 for 2018 $36,400
- Equipment rental (own) charges increase $14,000
- Utilities increases $42,000
- Septic System Monitoring Contract — Southward Park $10,500
Removing these expenses as listed above, the total tax assistance increase is $62,700 or 1.6%.
The Recreation Services Master Plan will be presented to the public in the near future. Initially, interviews with a number of Council members and staff will be taking place, most likely early April.
Following development of a Terms of Reference by the Public Works Committee, an Active Transportation Committee public call and media posting for members received only one interested candidate. After discussions with the Public Works Director and the Town Manager, staff as a team agreed that having an “Active Grimsby Advisory Committee” hosted through the Recreation, Facilities and Culture Department might better enable the volunteer interests of the community. More information and a new call for members is in the works.
The Tennis Club building requires some significant foundation repairs and capital improvements to make it accessible. The final costs have not been determined, but this will be an expensive capital asset cost.
Correspondence from Other Communities
Alderman Berry spoke strongly in support of not just receiving, but endorsing the correspondence and motion from the municipality of Welland referencing Port Colborne, St. Catharines and Thorold where they have put forward motions that “strongly objects to the Region and its Audit Committee interfering in a local municipality’s finances” with regard to Pelham’s debt load.
Alderman Mullins, who had initially vehemently supported the Region’s Audit committee and Pelham community in demanding further investigation, now spoke up to say she “had looked at it further” and now supports the motion by Alderman Berry.
Town Manager Brandt noted that at a recent CAO regional meeting it was recommended to refer the matter of clarifying the Regional responsibilities and boundaries to the Directors of Finance to bring up at a Regional Finance meeting. Once guidelines and protocols are established, these should be brought back to the CAOs for review and distributed to all municipalities.
Alderman Berry’s motion to endorse the correspondence was passed.
Mayor Bentley made a point of noting that Grimsby has been identified as one of the top 10 places in Ontario to invest in a Real Estate Investment Network (REIN) news release. He touted this as a good news story that is a credit to Town staff and Council.
Given some luke-warm online reviews of this organization and it’s for profit nature (you too can be the proud owner of this insider’s report for the low price of just $39.95 as advertised on the REIN website), one might take these ratings with a pinch or two of salt.
**IMPORTANT REMINDER – BUDGET MEETING – COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE**
Thursday, March 8 – 5:00 pm (Town Hall)
Note: The Town’s website will be down on March 8 from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm, inconveniently when this meeting is happening.