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Correction, last night’s meeting was not a ‘snooze’ as I suggested, it might better be labeled as ‘testy and tedious’. It seems that as agenda items get to be less ‘meaningful’ there is a greater tendency for council to pick over details. What could have been completed in an hour and a half took two and a half hours. But the time was entertaining with a little bit of irritation beginning to show. Here is a link to the town’s website that archives the meeting minutes.

The 2.5% rate increase seems as though it will go into effect. i was disappointed to hear that the Citizen’s Finance Committee (CFC) chose not to comment on the proposed budget. That is they neither offered any suggestions on the 2012 budget nor did they choose to endorse it. The statement from the CFC read at the meeting suggested that this year’s budget was an opportunity for them to understand the process and prepare them for next year. I had hoped for more. I will be offering my own analysis in this blog of the town budget, revenues and expenses, over the next few months that will give me the opportunity to understand what is in the budget and where there are opportunities to increase revenue and reduce expenses.

Attendance: All councilors and the mayor were present, town staff – 7, media – 4 (2 from Cogeco), audience – 8. The audience figure dropped to 2 after the discussion of the Belvedere rezoning was complete. I hope there are many more people catching the meeting on Cogeco.

Outcomes and Notable Decisions

Councilor reports and non-agenda items:

Parry Sound Power continues to generate a small profit with the good water flow we are experiencing. They are looking at certain facility upgrades (no, not the $16 million generation project, more like office changes).

Negotiations with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) have tentatively reached agreement on a three year deal that provides for a 1.5% to 1.9% annual increase in salaries. No other details were provided concerning benefits or any other considerations that might have been agreed.

Committee members were named to the Stockey and Waterfront advisory committees. The people named to the Waterfront Committee are: Marianne King-Wilson, Brenda Ryan, Alex Distler, Lis McWalter, Bob Corrigan, David Aylsworth, Dave Anderson, Jamie McGarvey, and Paul Borneman. The new appointees to the Stockey Committee are: James King and Celine Cascanette.

Item 2.1.1 concerning a rezoning of a property on Belvedere Avenue to permit a multi-unit residence received three separate deputations. The arguments and concerns were similar to those presented last year concerning the development rezoning request for Ansley. I wonder if the outcome will be the same. FYI – the Ansley project was approved by council over the objections of local residents, and there was a much larger turnout for the Ansley meeting.

Item 4.2, a letter to council asking for closer consideration of infrastructure requirements related to the new school planned for Beatty Street was simply noted with an intent to provide a response.

Item 9.2.3 concerning a bid for gravel, crusher dust and top soil generated more discussion than seemed warranted. One councilor suggested all three contracts be awarded to one company that had the lowest price on two items and was one of the two lowest bidders for the third. Staff had suggested that the contracts be split. Council in the end agreed to the staff recommendation to split the contracts. My two bits on this is that staff made a better recommendation that did not increase town costs. Awarding all contracts to a single company is a good way to ensure that others will not bid on a tender in the future. This was the case for the fertilizer contract where only one company provided a bid. Why should a company bother to bid if they expect they will be underbid on one or more items and will lose those bids that it is tied on.

Item 9.5.1 a direction to staff to prepare a by-law for a 2.5% tax rate increase for 2012 was passed by council. The impact in the tax bill for 2012 will be about $129 for a house assessed at $170,000, the median for the town.

Things seemed to get a little silly and petty at times. In hockey terms it was ‘chippy’. I hope that this is not an indicator of developing council behaviour.