Here’s an abridged look at what is in a very packed Town of Parry Sound Council agenda for May 6th.
There is still fallout from Council’s decision to remove Ms. McWalter from the Parry Sound Downtown Business Association including three Downtown Business Association Board resignations in protest of her dismissal (Items 4.3, 8.5) and three new Downtown Business Association Board appointments (8.6). I have also tendered my resignation from the Charles W. Stockey Centre Advisory Committee and Community Railway Safety Committee. My feeling is that community members with an opinion and energy are seemingly subject to unreasonable censure by Council through the use of ‘backroom’ closed meetings of Council. It’s a bit like Russian imperialism in the Ukraine. Council, like the Russians, feel they have the right to take certain unilateral actions at the expense of others. And like NATO the Parry Sound community is left with no recourse but to complain about the injustice. Here’s a link to my letter of resignation that seems to have been omitted from the meeting agenda package.
There are a couple of items on the agenda (5.1 and 9.1.5) concerning the severing of a lot(s) related to the salt dock off of Emily Street. It’s an interesting read where Town Staff and the applicant’s consultant debate the meaning of certain terms and how they apply to this situation. The Town does not support the application based on the information provided by the applicant.
The biggest part of the agenda is related to numerous budget issues and some unexpected expenses. I won’t go through them in detail but here are some things people may wish to look at and think about. Was Council a bit optimistic in keeping the tax rate flat for 2014 (9.4.4)? Final reconciliation of costs for 2013, unexpected major expenses for 2014, and certain accounting revisions suggest it will be necessary to dip into the rate stabilization fund. It’s not a big deal but still a surprise. The other financial issue that people should understand (9.4.2) is that about a third of the proceeds ($3.97 million) from the merger of Parry Sound Hydro has already been spent/committed. About $1 million is going towards unfinanced capital outlays (Stockey Centre, and the Canadore College Project) and $370,000 towards the Fire Hall wall and the new fire truck. So with the money not yet in our pocket Council has managed to spend a third of the Parry Sound Hydro money without any real public discussion. Council has also applied $500,000 of funds received from 2013 property sales to the reduction of debt related to the Cascade and Joseph Street projects. That’s why it’s important to keep track of what goes on at Council. There is no issue of dishonesty here, just a matter of priorities. I’m waiting for a proposal to use the rest of the ‘endowment’ for a community swimming pool. I read in the North Star that there was some ‘stumping’ for a pool at a recent meeting of McDougall Town Council. If we are planning to go further in debt let’s make sure the surrounding communities join us.
An additional expense that has popped up (9.5.1) is a rebuild of the retaining wall along Bay Street. It was a very rough winter for infrastructure. The estimated cost of the project ranges from $135,000 to $235,000 depending on the scope of the project. There is a proposal to fund this project from the Tax Rate Stabilization Fund. I guess we really didn’t deserve to forego a tax rate increase in 2014, but the politicians felt they did.
There really is much, much more on the agenda than is noted above, for example Ribfest is scheduled for July 9–13. You’ll need to check out the full agenda if you want all of the items and the details. To make things easier to review I’ve extracted just the agenda portion without the supporting information in a rather small document linked here. Go to the Town’s website to download the three separate agenda files with documentation. My one file version is linked here, note that it is a rather large file (27 MB). This version includes my highlights to portions of the agenda that I found to be of particular interest along with rotated pages to make for easier reading.
Somewhere in the ‘back hills’ of Parry Sound. (Parry Sound in Black & White).
Happy Cinco de Mayo – see you tomorrow night at the Council meeting.