City council – Aug. 13

August 15, 2012 at 10:19 am (News, Politics) (, )

I take back every complaint I had about two hour council meetings.

Monday night was a marathon four hours – and that was on top of a two-hour closed meeting. Council went so long they were required to pass a special motion for discussion to continue past 11 p.m. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t meet for four or five weeks.

Here’s a quick recap of the major agenda items:

  • The city is looking at a $658,000 deficit by the end of the year, thanks to less than expected tipping fee revenue and investment interest. A couple of councillors were quite worried and pushed managers to nip and tuck to ensure a balanced bottom line by December. Others expressed confidence in staff to make up the difference, and noted the shortfall isn’t much compared to the total $155 million budget.
  • Rik Saaltink, GM of the Seaway International Bridge Corporation, laid out his case for keeping the toll booth in Cornwall once the new bridge is operational. Several councillors were pretty adamantly against the idea, though others apologized for putting Rik in the hotseat and said they understood his predicament. The company is mandated to be self-sustaining, and moving the toll to the U.S. side or removing it entirely doesn’t make fiscal sense.

Councillors listen to Saaltink’s presentation on Monday.

  • Chief building official Chris Rogers provided an update on the property standards department and the pressures from low staffing levels and high complaint volumes. He plans to ask for two positions to become full time next year during budget debate, and already council seems fully behind the idea.
  • Coun. Maurice Dupelle successfully argued for a bylaw amendment that prohibits pigeon keeping in the city’s urban areas completely. Apparently both he and Coun. Gerald Samson have been hearing plenty of complaints about the birds, mainly around the health risks they pose.
  • Council agreed to make the redevelopment of the Bob Turner their first priority when applying for a new federal grant. They’ll also put in a request for help to build soccer fields at the Benson Centre. The local curling club plans to submit an application as well, as they  want to expand their lounge.
  • The search for a new chief administrative officer has begun. Council approved a hiring committee made up of four members and the HR manager. The group will review the job description, analyze applications, and bring the top few candidates before the full council for interviews.
  • It looks the secondary wastewater treatment project will hit its budget after all. The original bid was below the $55 million plan, but staff came back to council this week to ask for some additional work to be done. The extras will bring the total right up to the cap, but $2 million of that remains dedicated as contingency in case any unexpected issues arise.

And that’s just the big items. Council also agreed to buy new radio equipment for the fire department, shot down a request from the Terry Fox run to use the bandshell free of charge, approved some job positions and passed over a dozen bylaws.

Council meets next on September 10.

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