Regarding the Agenda of February 4 ( commentary 4-2)

Agenda Item 7.1 Chad Gale and Gabe Metron, Asset Management Plan)/8.2 FS03-2014 2013 Asset Management Plan (AMP)

It is right that we are doing an asset management plan. It is long overdue.

A draft asset plan is in the agenda package, for council consideration.

I have not had a chance to really get into the report, but I have identified two issues.

The first is that the Sauble area water systems and the Wiarton water system are lumped together as if they are one. That’s the wrong approach. The Sauble area systems must be treated as separate from the Wiarton system. Otherwise users of one will end up being forced to subsidize users of the other. That’s not fair to the ones who end up paying the subsidy, and it’s also illegal. And it’s a good way to divide the community.

The second is that in some cases it is proposed to use tax money to subsidize users of rate based systems (water and sewers). That’s also wrong, and unfair, and divisive, and illegal to boot.

The bottom line in the report is that we are not putting enough tax money into reserves for roads, bridges and culverts, and storm sewers, and we are not putting enough from water and sewer user fees into water and sewer system reserves.

According to the report we will need to increase taxes by 12.9 per cent over the next ten years to properly fund the reserves for roads, bridges and culverts, and storm sewers. Most of that is for roads. That’s doesn’t mean your tax bills will go up 12.9 per cent over ten years. It means your taxes will go up 12.9 per cent more than they would have if we stayed at our current (inadequate) rate of putting money into reserves for roads, storm sewers, and bridges.

Water and sewer systems are a little different. Water and sewer infrastructure reserves are maintained and built with money collected directly from users rather than with taxes. Or at least that’s the way it’s supposed to be. But here again not enough is going into reserves.

The report recommends that sanitary sewers user rates be increased by 37.6 percent over the next ten years. It is not clear whether this is a 37.6 per cent increase in total bills or an increase in 37.6 per cent only on the part of the sewers bill that is going into capital reserves. Either way it’s still a big number.

For water systems, the report notes that reserves are seriously underfunded, and recommends a rate increase of 21.7 percent over ten years to properly fund reserves. This is the average for Wiarton and Sauble area systems combined. There is no data on the separate systems. And once again it is not clear whether the required 21.7 per cent increase is a 21.7 per cent increase in total water bills or a 21.7 per cent only on the part of the water bills going into capital reserves.

I would come to town hall to get this all clarified, but I am banned. I would call staff to get clarification, but I am prohibited from doing that too. And I would call the report authors for clarification, but their contact information is nowhere to be found in the report, so I can’t do that either.

10.5 By-Law 15-2014 Being a By-Law to Amend By-Law Number 44-2009 Being a By-Law to Adopt the Manual Governing the Policies and Procedures for the Corporation of the Town of South Bruce Peninsula (Remove Municipal Election Procedures for the Alternate Voting Method Known as Vote by Mail and for the Use of Vote Tabulators)

This agenda item caused a lot of hand wringing, as on its own it appeared that mail-in voting would not be available for the October 27, 2014 election. It needn’t have caused any stress. The item was actually raised in the January 22 meeting. A January 22nd report from Clerk Angie Cathrae made it very clear that the item is not about getting rid of mail-in voting, and that mail–in voting is here to stay. Many of us missed that report. We may have at the time been too focused on the plan to raise taxes by three per cent so that the tourists could have free parking at Sauble. Agenda item 10.5 with by-law 15-2014 is not really an issue.

10.9 By-Law 19-2014 Being a By-Law to Authorize the Mayor and Clerk to Sign an Agreement with the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services for the Provision of Police Services

The plan is OK but I don’t think the Clerk has the authority to sign. It’s not within the scope of a Clerk’s duties as set out in the municipal act.

16.6 Delegation-Colin Dobell, Stop the Drop-Summer Campaign

Mr. Dobell is trying to get staff and council members to drop everything and join his campaign to stop water levels from dropping. Staff and council members should decline the invitation. The water levels issue is either federal or provincial or both. It’s not municipal. Staff should not be involved in any water levels campaign. It is not within their duties and it could or will result in them neglecting their real jobs, to the detriment of the residents. Council members should feel free to join the campaign, but not as elected officials and not as representatives of the people. It is not the role of mayor or councillors to be the voice of the residents to the provincial legislature or to the parliament. We elected Larry Millar and Bill Walker to do that. We are paying council members to run the Municipal Corporation. Not to go on campaigns, and not to go to meetings on every interesting provincial and federal issue that comes along. Local policy making is clearly more than enough of a load for this gang.

Craig

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