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Essex Town Council meeting notes - Monday, October 5, 2020

by Sylene Argent

RFP for external audit services awarded to KPMG

Essex Council received the report “Results of Request for Proposal External Audit Services,” which the Finance Department submitted. And, further awarded the Request for Proposal for the external audit services to KPMG LLP for $89,175.34 for a three-year term, with an option to extend for an additional three-year term. This would be subject to satisfactory performance and price negotiation.

  According to the Report to Council, a municipality has to appoint a licensed auditor, under the Public Accounting Act, 2004, to annually audit accounts and transactions of the municipality and its local boards.

  The report continues an auditor shall not be appointed for a term longer than five-years, and the Town’s current full-length term has expired.

  The Town’s Request for Proposal received two proposals, which were evaluated using a scorecard. KPMG LLP submitted the lowest price and scored the highest, as well, according to the Report to the Council.

  The total amount for external audit services from 2020 to 2022 is within the approved 2020 Operating Budget and Four Year Forecast.

  Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche said he has been involved with audits through accounting, and year ends, with a lot of different companies. He said, from what he gathered from discussions with administration, KPMG has done a fantastic job. So, it doesn’t surprise him, and he is excited, this company has won the award.


County Road 50 downloading still a concern

Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche said the Essex County Roads Rationalization Study, and the possible issue of County Road 50 being downloaded onto the Town of Essex, still needs to be reviewed at County Council.

  As part of the study, County Road 50 was being proposed, west of Erie, as possibly being assumed by the Town of Essex, in addition to County Road 41.

  Through the study, the County of Essex is trying to determine the roads network, how that works in each municipality, and how the connecting links work.

  CAO Chris Nepszy said there was a meeting on the issue, and direction will come from the County-level on how to move forward in regards to this report. Potentially, a master plan could take into account the work that has been done as background information, and move forward from that.

  The County does not want to lose the data and work put in, but its administration realizes there has to be something more to get everybody at the table to agree.

  “There is no way we can assume County Road 50. That would sink us,” Mayor Larry Snively said. “We can’t afford to take [the road] on.” He added County Road 50 is in rough shape in some areas.

  Meloche believes part of the discussion on downloading any roads through this report is that those roads would have to be brought to a certain level of maintenance before they would be taken on by the lower-tier municipality. He agreed with Snively, however, that the Town of Essex does not want to take that road over.

  “We are going to argue that we believe tourism roads, such as County Road 50, need to be remaining in the hands of the County and maintained by the County,” Meloche said. “We have other communities that believe that as well.”

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen suggested the Town of Essex look into legal counsel to see if the legal agreement with the County of Essex would be infringed by this potential downloading.

  The road rationalization study was planned over three phases: define the transportation network; road classification and examine recommendations /jurisdictional impacts; and implementation action plan.

  The study is meant to determine what the specifications would be in designating certain roads as county or municipal, as well as the potential implementation of a new cost-sharing mechanism between the County and municipalities.


MNR response to Essex Re: removal of municipal rabbit/pheasant hunting licences

Essex Council received and supported correspondence from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, which was dated September 25, 2020. This letter acknowledged and approved that a municipal licence for rabbit and pheasant hunting in the Town of Essex will no longer be required, and that the change will be reflected in the Hunting Regulations.

  Council also passed By-Law 1954, to repeal By-Law 633, which issued and charged fees for licences to hunt ring-necked pheasants and rabbits during the open season.

  Through the correspondence, the MNR acknowledged and approved of this change.

  At the Monday, August 24 meeting, Council voted in favour to rescind a municipal hunting licence, which was required to be purchased from the Town in order to hunt ring-necked pheasants, cottontails, and various hares during open season within the municipality.

  Mayor Larry Snively put forward the Notice of Motion at a previous Council meeting, and noted the Town of Essex was the only municipality in the region to have such a requirement within its limits, at a cost on $5. The Town was taking in just over $900 per year through this.

Length of the State of Emergency declaration questioned

Councillor Sherry Bondy wanted to know if there any discussion among administration about when the Town would move out of its COVID-19 State of Emergency Declaration. She said it is hard to ask questions about the Coronavirus, as there are no longer verbal reports provided at Council meetings as part of the agenda.

  CAO Chris Nepszy said there have been talks in the region about that, but the concern is the potential second wave of the Coronavirus and the state in which that could put the County. He said the area is in a holding pattern to see if the second waive makes things worse. Being in the State of Emergency is not hurting the Town, he said, and the Town is not pushing any decisions through that Council is not aware of.

  He suggested leaving the declaration in place until the risk of a second wave has been cleared.

  On Sunday, March 22, the Town of Essex Declared a State of Emergency, due to COVID-19. This took place the same day the County of Essex made the same declaration.  


 NoM: “Bird Banger” issue will lead to review of noise by-law

At the September 21 meeting, Councillor Steve Bjorkman put forward a Notice of Motion, which was discussed at the October 5 meeting, to have Council consider directing Administration to review the Town’s Noise By-law, specifically to the use of “Bird Bangers” in the agricultural zoned areas. He also wanted to use Best Management Practices outlined in the Farming and Food Production Protection Act (FFPPA) 1998 for reference.

  Bjorkman said he realizes the Town does not have by-laws that are really enforceable in the farming or agricultural area as far as noise is concerned. He noted farmers sometimes have to work through the night.

  There are best practices, he believes, that can be included as references to ensure ag-workers have all the best information. He spoke of a past instance where bird deterrent machines were going off because they we not being attended, and the issue was worked out. If there is a way to put best practices into a bylaw for these bird deterrents, that would give enforcement officers tools for those who have these machines going off in the middle of the night.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy said she has not heard one complaint since the day phone calls on a recent incident have been made. She said she would support a review of the noise bylaw, as she likes reviewing polices. One issue related to the noise bylaw includes fireworks.

  Council passed Bjorkman’s motion.


 NoM: Essex to approach Amherstburg about new plan for McGregor Sewage

At the September 21 meeting, Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche made a Notice of Motion, which was discussed at the October 5 meeting, to have Council consider directing Administration to investigate the feasibility of partnering with the Town of Amherstburg, with respect to the operations and ownership of the McGregor sanitary system.

  Meloche said this is something that has been ongoing for a long time. “We’ve been waiting to see how well our arrangement can work; and it is something that happened at the time of amalgamation.” He explained at one point in time, this sewage system was operated as a separate system, a joint venture between Colchester North and Anderdon Township.

  What Amherstburg has done, after around seven years of operating this system, Meloche said, is decide to pool all its sewage lagoons and sanitary systems into one averaged rate, which doubled the rates for the Essex and Amherstburg residents using the McGregor sewage system in around a two-year period.

  What Meloche said has been found is that if there is a concern on the Essex side of the street, usually, they would go to their local politician for help. And that Councillor would have some say to try and get something done. With this system, Essex has no pull. It seems like things do not get done for the Essex and Amherstburg residents.

  Meloche wants to go back to that original deal, and wants to approach Amherstburg about that idea.

  “I think we should be pushing for this,” he said.  

  Mayor Larry Snively agreed.

  Motion carried.


 NoM to be discussed at the October 19 meeting:

Councill Sherry Bondy will ask Council to give direction to administration to come back with a diversity training program for Council, which includes Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) customer service standard training to ensure Council is up-to-date with requirements under accessibility legislation and the human rights code.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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