Okay here’s a brief summary, with opinion, of last night’s council meeting. The Moose-FM has already tweeted the highlights and the North star will provide more in-depth coverage in the Friday and next Wednesday issues of selected topics. And the town will issue its meeting minutes in a day or so.
A reminder, there is now a Parry Sounds and Sights Facebook page (link). The Facebook page posts up some short notes, links and photos that are relevant to life in Parry Sound. This blog is also available through the Facebook page.
The Parry Sound Taxi deputation made a good argument as to why there should be a more transparent process for temporary driver permits while the necessary authorities (not town personnel) get around to providing the required documentation to get permanent licenses. There has to be a way to work this out.
Item 8.2: A resolution to ‘encourage’ the construction and operation of solar energy generation was approved. We’ll see what this means in practice but it cost nothing and indicates a positive attitude on the part of the town.
Items 9.3.1, 9.3.4 and 9.3.5: A series of resolutions related to Sign By-law requests were approved. I’m not sure more signs contribute to the sense of a quaint little town, but perhaps that’s not the look the town is going for.
Item 9.4.1: The resolution to ‘write-off’ unpaid inactive sewer and water accounts going back to 2004 was approved without any meaningful discussion. You have to do what you have to do, but here’s hoping that the town can limit or eleiminate future loses.
Item 9.4.2: The resolution related to town staff, elected official and their social media responsibilities was approved with only a couple of comments. It’s really a non-issue, sort of like the rules requiring food service employees to wash their hands after using the bathroom.
Item 9.4.3: The direction to staff to study and examine opportunities to improve the delivery of town services with the intent of reducing costs as well increasing revenues received the largest amount of discussion. There will be a meeting on the 28th to discuss the process. A couple of comments; we consultants actually get paid for this type of ‘wisdom’: don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good. Designing the perfect process at the expense of actually implementing the process is a common cause of failure. Get into it and revise the process as it becomes obvious to do so. And about revenue and expenses. The budget gap can only be properly addressed by cutting expenses rather than raising revenues. The town really has limited opportunities for raising or finding new revenue sources. Increasing meeting room costs or charging for boat launching will add only ‘nickels and dimes’. The only real way to address the budget gap through revenue is to get additional federal and provincial funding; or raise property taxes. With elections not that far off and town resident’s memories even longer, I expect we will see town council start swinging axes to cut costs rather than raise property taxes. The earlier the review is started the more thoughtful, and hopefully less painful, the cuts will be.
Item 9.6.1: The direction to staff to investigate a by-law to control the building of fences was revised to a direction to find ways to manage fences being built on town property. It was approved by a 4-3 vote (much closer than I thought it would be).
Item 10.6.1: Related to the approval of the Parry Sound Hydro Corporation minutes. In the discussion the need for an August 28th closed council meeting to discuss a PS Power matter was raised. Could this be the ‘secret’ power generation plant investment? I am looking forward to getting full information on the investment, it really isn’t much of a secret any longer. We need to know as a town what we may be ‘on the hook’ for if the investment is approved.
That’s it. See you at the special meeting of council on the 28th (7:00 PM unless it is otherwise changed).