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  • ESSEX FREE PRESS

Town of Essex Council notes - Monday, November 2, 2020

Updated: Nov 5

by Sylene Argent and Adam Gault

Town down $548,000, due to COVID-19

Council received Finance Business Services’ report, which analyzed the financial impact due to COVID-19 as of September 30.

  Kate Giurissevich, Manager of Finance and Business Services, said the Town’s total loss to date, due to COVID-19, is $548,700. This is reflective when comparing the period ending September 30 in 2019 to the same period of time in 2020.

  She said only the accounts that have been impacted by COVID-19 were included in the report.

  Total revenues, she said, decreased $1,475,684. This reduction in revenue was partially offset by a reduction in costs of around $926,000.

  Giurissevich added the Community Services department had the largest financial impact, with a $771,000 decrease in revenue.

  She said staff anticipates the costs will continue into 2021, and that will be reflected in next year’s draft budget, which she said will be presented on November 30.

  The Safe Restart Agreement-Phase one grant was also mentioned. The Town was awarded $543,800, which was not reflected in the report as the funds were received in October. Jeff Morrison, Director of Corporate Service/Treasurer, said phase one of the program is for allocation, and phase two is the submission phase. In order to qualify for phase two, municipalities have to show their deficit is greater than the amount received in the first phase.

  Reserve revenue was included in the impact report, as it was significantly impacted due to reduction in interest rates, Giurissevich said.

  Morrison added the loss related to reserve interest revenue is around $431,000, is not included in the budget. This amount can come into consideration when applied to phase 2 of the Safe Restart Agreement.

  In September, the Finance Department announced total impact to revenue for the period ending July 31, 2020 versus the period ending July 31, 2019, due to COVID-19, was a decrease in revenue of $1,151,725. With savings in other areas, however, the total loss at that time, for COVID-19 impacted revenue and expense groupings, was around $250,000, when comparing the same periods.


Council approves changes to dog tag by-law

Essex Council approved several amendments to the By-law that oversees the Licensing and Control of Dogs.

  The recommendations approved include issuing just one tag for the lifetime of the dog. The tag would be issued in the initial year of the new program start, or when a new dog is first registered.

The tag will be kept for the remainder of the dog’s life, or issued when replacing lost tags for a fee. Originally, new tags were issued every year.

  Council also approved one annual rate for a tag, whether the dog is spayed/neutered or not. Until this point, the Town has issued two separate rates, with a lower rate for neutered animals to encourage residents to fix their dogs, Shelley Brown, Deputy Clerk, said. She added this initiative did not create the incentive the Town had hoped.

  Changes also include a $20 fee for any dog tags purchased between January 1 and March 31, and a fee of $40 for any dog tags purchased between April 1 and December 31, which will be implemented in 2021. Up to this point, there was a three-phased payment system, with fees increasing with each phase as they got later into the year.

  In addition, an online electronic application will be created and offered.

  In the Report to Council, it notes 3000 dog tags were purchased, bringing in $949.15 in revenue for the Town, in 2020.

  Brown noted the amendments were meant to streamline the dog tag process and reduce contact.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy said she initially liked the idea for neutered/unneutered rates, but realizes it has become an operations nightmare, and can appreciate the streamlining of the program.

  Administration will bring back an amended and consolidated Animal Control By-law to Council, which will reflect these changes.


 Council approves 2021 meeting dates

Essex Council received Legal and Legislative Services’ report, “2021 Regular Council Meeting Dates,” and further approved the regular meeting dates for next year.

  The Report to Council notes regular Council meetings are held on the first and third Mondays of each month, unless the majority of its members note otherwise. When a regular meeting falls on a civic or public holiday, that meeting is then held on a different date that Council agrees upon.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy wondered if staff had thought about hosting another round table meeting before the end of the year. She said she finds it challenging to bring forward her growing pile of issues through the Notice of Motion section during regular meetings, because the issues are not always a good fit for this option.

  Mayor Larry Snively said he would discuss the possibility of such a meeting with senior staff.


Youth Council rep resigns

Cameron Soucie submitted his resignation for the Youth Council Member position to the Town on October 14.

  Council will send Soucie a letter to thank him for the time he spent as a Youth Council Rep, and will take the opportunity to wish him the very best in the future.

  Soucie was officially appointed to one of the two Council Youth Rep positions on March 18, 2019.

  Mayor Larry Snively said he was a very active Youth Council Rep and he will be missed.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy said she appreciates Soucie’s contributions and hopes he continues in his leadership role, as many look up to him. She bought him a book to show appreciation for his efforts.


 RfT awarded for roof access ladders for Harrow OPP Station

Essex Council approved a Request for Tender to Gillett Roofing Inc., in the amount of $36,521.66, to install roof access ladders on the Harrow OPP station.

  Earlier this year, Council approved in the OPP Capital Budget $30,000 for the installation of the ladders, as they had been identified by Essex’s Joint Health and Safety committee as a safety issue for anyone needing access to the station’s roof.

  Due to the excess cost of $6,521.66, above the allocated funds placed in the Capital Budget, Council’s approval was needed to access the additional funds coming from the 2020 OPP Capital Contingency budget. This budget, at this time, has a $25,000 balance.


Columbarium unit sale approved through by-law amendment

Council passed an amendment to By-law 1812, which will allow for the sale of columbarium units that will be constructed at the columbarium at Colchester Memorial Cemetery.

  Approved for construction earlier this summer, the columbarium at Colchester Memorial Cemetery will allow for the respectful storage of crematory urns in the grounds.

Administration had recommended the addition of the columbarium as the number of traditional lots remaining in the cemetery is limited, in addition to the increasing popularity of cremation services over traditional burial.

  This amendment was needed for the approval of the Bereavement Authority of Ontario (BAO) to ensure compliance with current burial regulations and legislation.


Municipal contract with Windsor Disposal Services extended until end of 2021

Council approved the extension of the Windsor Disposal Services Ltd. (WDS) waste management contract, until December 31, 2021.

  The budgeted estimated current annual cost of the contract for the services provided by WDS is approximately $678,000, with Council approval being required for purchases in excess of $100,000.

  Since 2015, WDS has provided waste collection services for the Town of Essex, including landfill collection and organics collection.

  The latest contract expired at the end of March, and due to delays caused by the pandemic, the Town and WDS did not have an appropriate opportunity to discuss contract extensions. And, since the end of March, both parties have been working on a month-to-month basis until this contract could be finalized.

Cannabis correspondences supported

Council voted to receive and support two pieces of correspondence from two Ontario municipalities pertaining to various issues surrounding cannabis.

The first, a letter from the City of Clarence-Rockland, sought to have the Province amend regulations surrounding cannabis retail stores to prevent “over concentration” and to provide more consideration to the concerns of municipalities in matters of public interest when licencing new stores.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen opposed supporting the first letter, stating this would be an unnecessary hindrance on businesses.

  “Why would we be asking the Province to help us shut down an over concentration of cannabis stores, when we can’t even get one open,” Vander Doelen asked. “This is a solution in search of a problem that doesn’t exist yet.”

  In the second letter, the Township of Blandford-Blenheim sought support from the federal government to amend legislation surrounding unlicensed cannabis grow operations, closing loopholes that allow them to operate unmonitored, and with little to no communication with the surrounding community.

Mileage for Committee of Adjustment to be discussed at roundtable

At the October 19th regular meeting, Councillor Sherry Bondy put forward a Notice of Motion that asked Council to consider covering mileage costs for Committee of Adjustment member.

  The matter was discussed on Monday, and the motion was ultimately withdrawn after Mayor Larry Snively suggested it be brought forward at a more informal roundtable discussion.

  Bondy brought forward the motion, noting that committee members had been receiving the same pay for the last 10 years.

  “These Committee of Adjustment members do a really difficult, sometimes nasty political jobs for us,” Bondy said. “I don’t know why we don’t pay the mileage to encourage them to go to site visits. The mileage that we do pay them, can come out of applicants’ fees, it doesn’t have to come from any taxpayer.”

  Bondy added that this issue could be part of a larger discussion pertaining to how committees are structured, and how they get paid.

  “I have talked to some of the committee members and they know that it is community service basically, but they’re not doing it to lose money,” Bondy explained. “If they’re driving around to four or five sites on an agenda, that’s a lot of time, and that’s a lot of mileage on their vehicles.”

  Mayor Snively suggested the issue could be discussed at a roundtable, possibly before December.


NoM re: Opposition to further Amalgamation

At the October 19 meeting, Councillor Sherry Bondy brought forward a Notice of Motion for Council to discuss at the November 2 meeting. She hoped Essex would be strongly opposed to further amalgamation as she believes residents are best served by the current model in terms of dollars and services.

  The idea stemmed from the service delivery review currently being conducted, which is looking for better efficiencies and opportunities for shared services with neighbouring communities. The funding for the review came from the Province’s Municipal Modernization Program.

  During the special meetings recently held to hear reps from StrategyCorp present their first phase of the review, Bondy had concerns about possible future amalgamations.

  Bondy wanted to be proactive on the issue. “We don’t exactly know what the Province intends to do, but even if there is – say a five-percent chance of amalgamation – I would like to get ahead of it.”

  She said she is not saying ‘no’ to efficiencies and shared services when they make sense, but she wants to let the Province know Essex does not have an intention on any further amalgamation.

  Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche agreed with Bondy on the intent of her motion, but doesn’t “think it would be wise to send a letter to the Province saying ‘we won’t [amalgamate further].’” He did suggest the letter could note the Town does not see the benefits of any further amalgamation, but sees benefit in shared services, which is currently being investigated.

  He suggested copying the other municipalities on the letter, to give them a chance to support it if they chose, and perhaps send it to AMO as well.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen was disappointed in the service delivery review in what he believes was a failure to find efficiencies. He thinks it would be a mistake to send the letter to the Province to note it would never accept or even talk about potential amalgamations. He even questioned the legality of that.

  He said he would vote against any attempt that implies this will not be discussed, as it is Council’s duty to run things efficiently.

  Councillor Morley Bowman said nobody really wanted the last amalgamation, but Provincial regulation and rule changes then made it almost impossible for smaller communities to survive without amalgamating. He said one has to be careful for what is wish for. In the long-term, he said the Town does not want to back itself into a corner.

  He was not opposed to sending a letter that the Town was not interested in further amalgamation, but the Town should remain open to discuss the issue to handle whatever comes in the future.  

  Bondy said perhaps this is being a little too proactive, but perhaps that is her style. If the Province decides on future amalgamation, Essex will not have a choice. If the Town starts letting it known there is no desire to amalgamate at this point, she thinks it would help. The community, she said, is looking for leadership on this and peace of mind in a time where there is turmoil, due to the pandemic.

  The motion included that the Town of Essex is strongly opposed to further amalgamation and, whereas the Municipal Moderation Grant is appreciated and Essex is working hard to ensure municipal operations are more efficient internally and looking for possible efficiencies externally, is opposed to further restructuring at this time, but is not opposed to sharing some services where service quality, safety, and price to residents is not comprised.

  In a recorded vote, Council passed the motion 6-2, with Councillors Bondy, Morley Bowman, Garon, and Verbeek, in addition to Mayor Larry Snively and Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche in Support. Councillors Chris Vander Doelen and Steve Bjorkman were opposed.

Verbeek urges community send love to Iler Lodge during COVID-19 outbreak

Councillor Kim Verbeek noted Iler Lodge had three positive cases of COVID-19 at the time of the regular Council meeting. The staff there have done an amazing job in keeping the residents safe since March.

  “It is a scary time for them, and so I think we need to take every opportunity we can to lift them up and support them in this hard time,” she said.


NoM to be discussed at the November 16 meeting:

• Councillor Sherry Bondy wants to discuss the possibility of installing a traffic light at the corner of Erie and King Street in 2021.

• Councillor Sherry Bondy will ask administration to review he possible implementation of a By-law that regulates lights and odours, similar to the one recently passed by Kingsville.

• Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche will discuss the possibility of the Town of Essex Finance Team coming to the table with a 0 percent general tax increase, for initial Council discussions. This would be in recognition that the current calendar year has been a financial stress to many Essex residents, due to COVID-19.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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