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Posts Tagged ‘Committee of the Whole’

New role for Smiths Falls’ Committee of Adjustment

Monday, October 24, 2016 @ 09:10 PM
posted by April Scott-Clarke

By Chris Must
editorial@pdgmedia.ca 

The Town of Smiths Falls’ Committee of Adjustment will be taking on some new duties, at least on a trial basis.

Under new provincial legislation, the town must appoint a planning advisory committee. The Smart Growth for Communities Act (Bill 73) received royal assent in December 2015. The intent of this legislation is to provide new processes for communities to plan for growth, enhance transparency and accountability, and give local municipalities more independence in planning decisions.

One immediate effect of the legislation is the requirement for Smiths Falls to appoint a planning advisory committee.

In a presentation by senior planner Niki Dwyer at an Oct. 24 Committee of the Whole meeting, town staff recommended that the role of planning advisory committee be filled by the existing members of the Committee of Adjustment, which consists of six community members and town councillors Joe Gallipeau and Jay Brennan. The committee’s current role is adjudicating minor zoning variance applications.

The committee’s additional role will involve overseeing public meetings required for official plan amendments, zoning amendments, and applications for new subdivisions and condominiums.

Dwyer said that having the Committee of Adjustment take on this new role will “hopefully not add any more red tape than necessary to the process.”

Town Chief Administrative Officer Malcolm Morris suggested that this new arrangement be tried for a year to ensure that the additional workload would be manageable.

The committee supports the plan, noted Coun. Brennan.

Smiths Falls asset management plan still controversial

Tuesday, September 13, 2016 @ 07:09 AM
posted by April Scott-Clarke

By Howida Sorour-Roberts
heddy@pdgmedia.ca

At the Sept. 12 Committee of the Whole meeting held in Smiths Falls, Watson & Associates representative Dan Wilson, presented council with an updated asset management plan.

“The [asset management plan] will be instrumental in informing the budget, so we need this plan to be approved and in place,” said Malcolm Morris, Smiths Falls CAO.

The update presented by Wilson reflected changes to the financial strategy, which had previously (April 2016) met with strong opposition from council members concerned over accepting the recommended 4.03 per cent tax increases every year until 2021.

In an effort to reduce the tax impact, Watson & Associates applied recent changes to the  Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OSIF) to the plan.  Under the new OSIF, municipalities now receive set amounts of funding for infrastructure investment, that ramp up to $613,764 by 2019.  Watson & Associates extended that timeline to 2022 in their update.

“We’ve made assumptions that the funding will continue at the $613,000 level from 2019 going forward,” said Wilson.

By applying the OCIF funding to the Financial Strategy, Watson & Associates were able to reduce the recommended 4.03 per cent annual increase to 3.38 per cent up to 2026.

“This is a worst case scenario, so if you generate more revenue, or realized more cost savings or received more grants that would reduce the 3.38 per cent,” explained Watson.

According to Janet Koziel, interim town treasurer, 3.38 per cent represents $600,000.

Following the presentation, each councillor expressed their opinion on the update and finally a straw vote was taken.  Shawn Pankow, Smiths Falls mayor and Councillors, Chris Cummings, Lorraine Allen, and John Maloney all voted to accept the updated plan.

“We are essentially saying we need a 3.38 per cent increase in revenue not necessarily through taxes, so if we have another year like this year and receive a number of grants or manage to complete a couple of condominiums that increase our tax base, we wouldn’t need to raise taxes,” said Pankow echoing the opinions of the other yay sayers.

On the other hand Councillors Jay Brennan, Dawn Quinn and Joe Gallipeau voted against the update.

“I’m struggling with this,” said Quinn, “I just get the feeling that once we accept this update we’re locked into that tax increase, and I don’t think the people of Smiths Falls can pay more than they’re already paying.”

Aside from informing the municipal budget, the province has mandated that every municipality have an asset management plan in place in order to apply for provincial grants. It’s also a requirement of the federal gas tax and as such it is unavoidable.

“This is living document, the plan only recommends a 3.38 per cent tax increase but it’s up to council discussion, it is not committing you to that increase at all,” said Wilson.

Photo by Howaida Sorour-Roberts: Dan Wilson presented Smiths Falls council with an updated Asset Management Plan that calls for a 3.38 per cent revenue increase.

 

HUB poolBY: AMY HOGUE

Smiths Falls’ council will be diving into the Hub pool issue at a Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting on June 8, where councillors will discuss the merits of further contributions to the pool.

The 2015 budget has $30,000 set aside for the Hub, and it’s not yet clear if those funds will be released until further debate takes place at the council table.

Board of Directors’ Chair, Kathy Gilligan, made a presentation to council at a May 11 COW meeting, outlining the strides forward the pool has made since their last visit to council.  Local resident, Tom Foulkes, who has been assisting the Hub board of directors with their business plan revision, was also on hand for the presentation to council.

Since they last met, the Hub has worked to revise their business plan and responding to community and council concerns, Gilligan said.  Since January 2015, the Hub has also seen an increase in membership of more than 25 per cent, something Mayor Shawn Pankow considers to be a good sign, in light of the financial uncertainty of the pool.

“Earlier in the year things looked pretty desperate, this time I think it’s good news,” Pankow said, pointing out that because the municipality is using taxpayer’s dollars, it’s important to ensure the money will fund something that will succeed.

That said, Pankow stressed he “recognizes we have a really valuable asset here that doesn’t cost us a lot of money.”

News of a further debt to the Hub’s service provider was a surprise to council.  Councillor John Maloney said when the Hub last appeared before council, that information wasn’t presented to them.  Gilligan responded that the decision was made to handle that debt on their own, and it wasn’t included in the presentations to council.

“In retrospect, that was a mistake,” Gilligan acknowledged, but stressed that “we should have a new agreement with the service provider soon” that will be more favourable to the Hub financially.

Councillor Chris Cummings pointed out he would like to see a Terms of Reference before entertaining contributions beyond those the municipality has already made.  Cummings said in his view, the Hub’s business plan is flawed.

“Until I have a Terms of Reference and understand what the obligations are going forward, I’m not willing to put other money in,” Cummings said, “There’s still a lot of things that have to go on here.”

At a subsequent meeting on May 25, council agreed to revisit the Hub pool issue at the June 8 COW meeting to make a decision on whether or not the town will be making future funding commitments.

Council Briefs: Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting

Thursday, March 5, 2015 @ 11:03 AM
posted by admin

Reported and Written by Amy Hogue

1) Open air and pit fires permits may soon come to Smiths Falls
Fire Chief Normand Beauchamp hopes to reduce firefighter responses in Smiths Falls with the introduction of open air and fire pit permit fees.  Currently, open air fires and fire pits are not permitted in Smiths Falls, but Beauchamp proposes to introduce annual permits to residents for both types of fires.
“The cost of the permit is just to get it in the system,” Beauchamp assured council, justifying the low fee of $10 per application.
The purpose behind the permit is not to generate revenue, but to reduce firefighter response numbers and, ultimately, costs.  Beauchamp proposes the permit system could save the municipality up to $6,000 in costs by reducing the number of calls that firefighters respond to, only to find out it’s a safe fire pit or open air fire.  The cost for firefighters to respond to a fire call is approximately $600.
Council members discussed the fee, questioning if it should be raised to $25 per permit.  Beauchamp will return to council at a later date with further details.

2) Door-to-door campaign for dog and cat tags coming to Smiths Falls
In a report presented by manager of Planning and Sustainable Growth, Lynda McKimm, the recommendation was for council to approve a door to door campaign for dog and cat tags and to set a tag fee for micro-chipped animals of $5 annually.
The report stated that in 2014 there were 330 tags sold, equalling $3,760 in fees.  McKimm believes that a door-to-door campaign could generate revenue of approximately $28,000.  The calculation, made in cooperation with the Animal Control Officer, is based on the number of residences in the town and an estimate of the number of dogs living within town limits.
The creation of a database for all dogs and cats tagged in the municipality was also recommended, as this would eliminate the need for future door-to-door campaigns.  In subsequent years, notices could be sent to residences who previously had purchased tags, reminding them to purchase new tags for the current year.
The report suggested approaching not for profit groups to sell the dog and cat tags door-to-door, with an offer for commission for tags sold.  An increase in fees beginning after March 31, 2015, was also recommended, increasing the tag fee from $15 to $30.  Because there is no fee for micro-chipped animals in Smiths Falls, McKimm also recommended charging $5 per tag for micro-chipped animals.

3) Procedural by-law changes requested by Councillor Quinn
Councillor Dawn Quinn brought forward a request for changes to the procedural bylaw to reduce repetition at council meetings.  After engaging the clerk for information about how best to accomplish this, Quinn pointed out that under the current procedural bylaw, council must read bylaw aloud for three readings, which could be unnecessary.
Director of corporate services, Kerry Costello, suggested using a similar structure for COW meetings by receiving consent reports.  This would mean that monthly reports received from staff would be accepted by council, and only discussed if there were any additional questions from council.  Costello suggested creating a consent portion of the agenda.
Quinn stressed that this is an important issue for council, pointing out that council currently has a lot on their plates, and any time that is saved could be devoted to other items.
Costello will bring back more information at a future meeting with further suggestions for changes to council’s procedure that could save time.

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Posts Tagged ‘Committee of the Whole’

New role for Smiths Falls’ Committee of Adjustment

Monday, October 24, 2016 @ 09:10 PM
posted by April Scott-Clarke

By Chris Must
editorial@pdgmedia.ca 

The Town of Smiths Falls’ Committee of Adjustment will be taking on some new duties, at least on a trial basis.

Under new provincial legislation, the town must appoint a planning advisory committee. The Smart Growth for Communities Act (Bill 73) received royal assent in December 2015. The intent of this legislation is to provide new processes for communities to plan for growth, enhance transparency and accountability, and give local municipalities more independence in planning decisions.

One immediate effect of the legislation is the requirement for Smiths Falls to appoint a planning advisory committee.

In a presentation by senior planner Niki Dwyer at an Oct. 24 Committee of the Whole meeting, town staff recommended that the role of planning advisory committee be filled by the existing members of the Committee of Adjustment, which consists of six community members and town councillors Joe Gallipeau and Jay Brennan. The committee’s current role is adjudicating minor zoning variance applications.

The committee’s additional role will involve overseeing public meetings required for official plan amendments, zoning amendments, and applications for new subdivisions and condominiums.

Dwyer said that having the Committee of Adjustment take on this new role will “hopefully not add any more red tape than necessary to the process.”

Town Chief Administrative Officer Malcolm Morris suggested that this new arrangement be tried for a year to ensure that the additional workload would be manageable.

The committee supports the plan, noted Coun. Brennan.

Smiths Falls asset management plan still controversial

Tuesday, September 13, 2016 @ 07:09 AM
posted by April Scott-Clarke

By Howida Sorour-Roberts
heddy@pdgmedia.ca

At the Sept. 12 Committee of the Whole meeting held in Smiths Falls, Watson & Associates representative Dan Wilson, presented council with an updated asset management plan.

“The [asset management plan] will be instrumental in informing the budget, so we need this plan to be approved and in place,” said Malcolm Morris, Smiths Falls CAO.

The update presented by Wilson reflected changes to the financial strategy, which had previously (April 2016) met with strong opposition from council members concerned over accepting the recommended 4.03 per cent tax increases every year until 2021.

In an effort to reduce the tax impact, Watson & Associates applied recent changes to the  Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OSIF) to the plan.  Under the new OSIF, municipalities now receive set amounts of funding for infrastructure investment, that ramp up to $613,764 by 2019.  Watson & Associates extended that timeline to 2022 in their update.

“We’ve made assumptions that the funding will continue at the $613,000 level from 2019 going forward,” said Wilson.

By applying the OCIF funding to the Financial Strategy, Watson & Associates were able to reduce the recommended 4.03 per cent annual increase to 3.38 per cent up to 2026.

“This is a worst case scenario, so if you generate more revenue, or realized more cost savings or received more grants that would reduce the 3.38 per cent,” explained Watson.

According to Janet Koziel, interim town treasurer, 3.38 per cent represents $600,000.

Following the presentation, each councillor expressed their opinion on the update and finally a straw vote was taken.  Shawn Pankow, Smiths Falls mayor and Councillors, Chris Cummings, Lorraine Allen, and John Maloney all voted to accept the updated plan.

“We are essentially saying we need a 3.38 per cent increase in revenue not necessarily through taxes, so if we have another year like this year and receive a number of grants or manage to complete a couple of condominiums that increase our tax base, we wouldn’t need to raise taxes,” said Pankow echoing the opinions of the other yay sayers.

On the other hand Councillors Jay Brennan, Dawn Quinn and Joe Gallipeau voted against the update.

“I’m struggling with this,” said Quinn, “I just get the feeling that once we accept this update we’re locked into that tax increase, and I don’t think the people of Smiths Falls can pay more than they’re already paying.”

Aside from informing the municipal budget, the province has mandated that every municipality have an asset management plan in place in order to apply for provincial grants. It’s also a requirement of the federal gas tax and as such it is unavoidable.

“This is living document, the plan only recommends a 3.38 per cent tax increase but it’s up to council discussion, it is not committing you to that increase at all,” said Wilson.

Photo by Howaida Sorour-Roberts: Dan Wilson presented Smiths Falls council with an updated Asset Management Plan that calls for a 3.38 per cent revenue increase.

 

HUB poolBY: AMY HOGUE

Smiths Falls’ council will be diving into the Hub pool issue at a Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting on June 8, where councillors will discuss the merits of further contributions to the pool.

The 2015 budget has $30,000 set aside for the Hub, and it’s not yet clear if those funds will be released until further debate takes place at the council table.

Board of Directors’ Chair, Kathy Gilligan, made a presentation to council at a May 11 COW meeting, outlining the strides forward the pool has made since their last visit to council.  Local resident, Tom Foulkes, who has been assisting the Hub board of directors with their business plan revision, was also on hand for the presentation to council.

Since they last met, the Hub has worked to revise their business plan and responding to community and council concerns, Gilligan said.  Since January 2015, the Hub has also seen an increase in membership of more than 25 per cent, something Mayor Shawn Pankow considers to be a good sign, in light of the financial uncertainty of the pool.

“Earlier in the year things looked pretty desperate, this time I think it’s good news,” Pankow said, pointing out that because the municipality is using taxpayer’s dollars, it’s important to ensure the money will fund something that will succeed.

That said, Pankow stressed he “recognizes we have a really valuable asset here that doesn’t cost us a lot of money.”

News of a further debt to the Hub’s service provider was a surprise to council.  Councillor John Maloney said when the Hub last appeared before council, that information wasn’t presented to them.  Gilligan responded that the decision was made to handle that debt on their own, and it wasn’t included in the presentations to council.

“In retrospect, that was a mistake,” Gilligan acknowledged, but stressed that “we should have a new agreement with the service provider soon” that will be more favourable to the Hub financially.

Councillor Chris Cummings pointed out he would like to see a Terms of Reference before entertaining contributions beyond those the municipality has already made.  Cummings said in his view, the Hub’s business plan is flawed.

“Until I have a Terms of Reference and understand what the obligations are going forward, I’m not willing to put other money in,” Cummings said, “There’s still a lot of things that have to go on here.”

At a subsequent meeting on May 25, council agreed to revisit the Hub pool issue at the June 8 COW meeting to make a decision on whether or not the town will be making future funding commitments.

Council Briefs: Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting

Thursday, March 5, 2015 @ 11:03 AM
posted by admin

Reported and Written by Amy Hogue

1) Open air and pit fires permits may soon come to Smiths Falls
Fire Chief Normand Beauchamp hopes to reduce firefighter responses in Smiths Falls with the introduction of open air and fire pit permit fees.  Currently, open air fires and fire pits are not permitted in Smiths Falls, but Beauchamp proposes to introduce annual permits to residents for both types of fires.
“The cost of the permit is just to get it in the system,” Beauchamp assured council, justifying the low fee of $10 per application.
The purpose behind the permit is not to generate revenue, but to reduce firefighter response numbers and, ultimately, costs.  Beauchamp proposes the permit system could save the municipality up to $6,000 in costs by reducing the number of calls that firefighters respond to, only to find out it’s a safe fire pit or open air fire.  The cost for firefighters to respond to a fire call is approximately $600.
Council members discussed the fee, questioning if it should be raised to $25 per permit.  Beauchamp will return to council at a later date with further details.

2) Door-to-door campaign for dog and cat tags coming to Smiths Falls
In a report presented by manager of Planning and Sustainable Growth, Lynda McKimm, the recommendation was for council to approve a door to door campaign for dog and cat tags and to set a tag fee for micro-chipped animals of $5 annually.
The report stated that in 2014 there were 330 tags sold, equalling $3,760 in fees.  McKimm believes that a door-to-door campaign could generate revenue of approximately $28,000.  The calculation, made in cooperation with the Animal Control Officer, is based on the number of residences in the town and an estimate of the number of dogs living within town limits.
The creation of a database for all dogs and cats tagged in the municipality was also recommended, as this would eliminate the need for future door-to-door campaigns.  In subsequent years, notices could be sent to residences who previously had purchased tags, reminding them to purchase new tags for the current year.
The report suggested approaching not for profit groups to sell the dog and cat tags door-to-door, with an offer for commission for tags sold.  An increase in fees beginning after March 31, 2015, was also recommended, increasing the tag fee from $15 to $30.  Because there is no fee for micro-chipped animals in Smiths Falls, McKimm also recommended charging $5 per tag for micro-chipped animals.

3) Procedural by-law changes requested by Councillor Quinn
Councillor Dawn Quinn brought forward a request for changes to the procedural bylaw to reduce repetition at council meetings.  After engaging the clerk for information about how best to accomplish this, Quinn pointed out that under the current procedural bylaw, council must read bylaw aloud for three readings, which could be unnecessary.
Director of corporate services, Kerry Costello, suggested using a similar structure for COW meetings by receiving consent reports.  This would mean that monthly reports received from staff would be accepted by council, and only discussed if there were any additional questions from council.  Costello suggested creating a consent portion of the agenda.
Quinn stressed that this is an important issue for council, pointing out that council currently has a lot on their plates, and any time that is saved could be devoted to other items.
Costello will bring back more information at a future meeting with further suggestions for changes to council’s procedure that could save time.

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