Well there was no name-calling at this meeting, so that’s an improvement…however, there were some disagreements on how tax dollars are spent.
At the start of the meeting, the tax increase was at 1.7% and by the end it was up to 2%…but have no fear….yet….there is still a LONG way to go!
At the first budget meeting, one of the items that was NOT included in the budget was the request by the Fire Dept to hire 2 additional firefighters. Councillor Wilson asked that this item be revisited at this meeting…Initially Councillor Garisto said no he couldn’t bring that item up again, but Councillor Wilson officially challenged the Chair’s decision and had the support of Council to bring this item up for discussion again. At the first budget meeting, it was explained by the Fire Chief that in 2015 over $100k had been spent in overtime and by hiring 2 firefighters at a cost of $60k that would significantly reduce their payroll expenditures. At the first meeting, Councillor Garisto attempted to bargain with the Chief and negotiate that he would be willing to hire 1 firefighter, but not 2. It was then explained that the Fire Dept works with 2 platoons and only hiring 1 firefighter would not cover the need to have 1 on each shift. I’m thankful that this item was brought back up and carried, because of all the things that we could save money on, this shouldn’t be one of them…the safety of our residents needs to be top of mind.
A Multi-Million Dollar Corporation without a Purchasing System???
I was shocked to discover at this meeting that currently the Town of Orangeville does not have a Procurement Department…a multi-million dollar corporation with nobody dedicated to purchasing…With that being said, one of the agenda items was $25,000 for a Corporate Procurement Project. “We are in litigation because our Procurement Policy is not appropriate. So we have to do something and if staff feels that for $25k we can get something that will keep our Town safe and secure, that’s the least we can do.” said Deputy Mayor Maycock. Ed Brennan was then asked why we can’t do this in house. “To answer simply, we do not have a Procurement Department. We do not have the expertise to that level.” Mr Brennan continued to say, “We don’t have a purchasing system, we don’t have purchase orders…It’s kind of hard to run an organization of $50 million and say that we don’t have that in place at this time.” The item eventually carried after much discussion, so perhaps this will make purchasing more efficient?! Here’s hoping!
Police Services Board Remuneration
Discussion arose from a statement from Councillor Bradley about the $50k budget allotted for compensation specifically for the members of the Police Services Board. Councillor Campbell declared a conflict of interest as a member of the PSB and then much discussion came up about the legalities surrounding this topic and whether the Mayor, as the chair of this board, needs to declare conflict as well. The discussion was put on hold until staff was able to provide clarity around the provincial requirements as well as the legalities. What do you think about this?? I’m interested to see if anything comes from this at the next meeting.
The Town of Orangeville received a grant from the Federal Government in the amount of $91k as part of the Canada Infrastructure Program Grant. The outline of the application for this grant was that it needed to be used to improve existing infrastructure in the community. The application was submitted to upgrade the Carnegie Library in the Downtown core with the provision that the Town put in the difference for these upgrades. The grant is for $91k and the Town has to put in $184k towards the project. During discussions about this grant, the library was chosen as the top project. Well, now that it comes to the nickels and dimes of it, the conversation changed quite quickly.
The Mayor made comments that it is expensive to run 2 libraries and that he feels that neither library is perfect for our Town. “I would like to see an option where we look at combining the libraries into 1 newer library that is better suited to those who use it.” said Mayor Williams.
Now, I have made comments in the past that there really is no need in our Town to have 2 libraries…and I do still stand by that. However, the Carnegie Library on Broadway is one that the Town needs to keep. If you want to talk about historical buildings and the facade of Broadway, this building is one of the key architectural pieces that is the centrepiece of our Town…and to lose a $91k grant from the Federal Government to improve this amazing building would be absolutely asinine, in my humble opinion!! The motion carried.
Infrastructure – Is the Sky Falling?
Infrastructure, much like the word reserves, have become a sour point amongst members of Council. I don’t think it takes a genius to see that infrastructure in the Town of Orangeville needs some serious TLC. However, spending the money to make the necessary repairs seems to be another issue. What is frustrating about this whole topic to me is that there are things that we NEED to spend money on…ie: Roads, Maintenance and Repair of current assets, Police & Fire Services to make sure our citizens are safe…but in order to have a healthy balance of all of these things without bleeding the taxpayers dry, there needs to be some tough conversations amongst the members of Council to figure out where savings can happen. It has become clear to me that there is no industry coming to Town anytime soon to help ease the tax burden…so something else needs to be done.
“We should be ashamed of ourselves.” said a passionate Councillor Wilson. “Every report you look at says that we are not funding our infrastructure…how many times do we have to be told?” Councillor Wilson then put in a motion to add $300k into capital reserves for infrastructure projects.
“I don’t buy that the sky is falling..The sky is not falling. There are some roads that are in need of some repair. Does it need to be fixed today? No, it probably should be repaired over the course of time.” said Mayor Williams “I’m happy with where we are. I don’t want to go more, I don’t want to go less because then we would come into a shortfall situation. (speaking of the current tax rate increase of 2%)”
The motion to add $300k was defeated.
How do you think the infrastructure in the Town of Orangeville should be addressed?
Next Budget Meeting
The next Budget Meeting will be held on February 8th, 2016 and there is a regular meeting of Council schedule for next Monday, February 1st.