The Madawaska Valley Council in Committee meeting on February 4 included the usual wide range of topics, and members of Council discussed the following items at length:
Tax arrears report
Deputy Treasurer Janice Brisson Zelney provided an update on collection of tax arrears. Her report, which now includes the 2019 tax arrears, shows the amount of $1,038,402.27 is owing to the municipality. The debt breaks down as follows:
Arrears from 2016 or earlier 89,094.25
From 2017 100,664.76
From 2018 187,740.95
From 2019 528,931.56
Interest/Penalties due 131,970.75
Brisson Zelney told Council the arrears are approximately $263,000 less than at year end 2018, which indicates they are making progress with collections. She said she gets a good response from people who are behind on their property taxes, especially when she stays in contact with them. She told Council that MV normally sends out only two notices because the postage charge for each mailing is about $1,000. She suggested that notices be sent more frequently to people who are in arrears and a $2 charge for each notice be added to the amount of the arrears. In that way, the reminders are paid for by the people who owe the arrears. Council agreed and directed staff to add the charge to the next Schedule of Fees when it comes up for approval. Brisson Zelney also said she would draft a letter to send to late payers during the first year they fall into arrears, rather than wait until the second year.
Bark Lake landfill: Council discussed the Pinchin Waste Capacity Assessment which estimates how long it will be until the Bark Lake landfill site reaches capacity. Depending on parameters such as the volume and rate of material deposited each year, the site’s “lifetime” is estimated at either 27 or 44 years. Accurate data for both disposal volume and disposal rates are required. Pinchin’s recommendations included more frequent topographic surveys. Because of the disparity between the two estimates, Councillor Mark Willmer suggested keeping an eye on this annually. Mayor Kim Love liked the idea of regular topographical surveys.
While discussing the Bark Lake site, Operations Manager Hilary Kutchkoskie informed Council that both organic waste tubes are once again available to residents.
Blue Box recycling: Recycling was also on the agenda as members of Council reviewed a request from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) to provide a date when MV would transition responsibility for Blue Box recycling to producers. CAO Suzanne Klatt pointed out that AMO was being proactive as implementation is not required until 2025. Mayor Kim Love said it all goes back to the Township’s asset management, pointing out that they needed to estimate how many trucks they would need. The existing three trucks are due for replacement in 2021, 2024 and 2027. She said MV needs to decide whether it will partner with producers to handle recycling and, if so, how much it would charge to provide producers with the service. Councillor Peplinski suggested a collaboration with other small municipalities but Mayor Love pointed out that this presents difficulties because each municipality offers different levels of service. CAO Klatt suggested staff bring the issue back to Council for further discussion later.
Stop Illegal Dumping campaign: Bancroft and Area Stewardship Council invited Madawaska Valley to join in a provincial partnership with Crimestoppers Canada’s awareness campaign to stop illegal dumping. Joining the partnership would cost MV a one-time fee of $565. MV would receive signage encouraging anyone who witnesses illegal dumping to report it to the Crimestoppers Tips line instead of calling the relevant municipality. Crimestoppers will be responsible for paying the reward to the tipster, but Council discussed other potential costs to the municipality of using this system. Although the MV By-Law enforcement officer would not be required to respond to tips from Crimestoppers, Council questioned the cost of enforcement to the municipality which could depend on where the dumping occurred. Deputy Clerk Gwen Dombroski advised that County does not enforce parking by-laws on County roads, and instead calls the OPP. Mayor Love suggested it could be more cost-effective to pay for enforcement by the MV By-Law Officer instead of paying the OPP. Council decided to get additional information on the program.
Library lowers cost of heating
In a report from Madawaska Valley Public Library CEO Karen Filipkowski, Council learned that by replacing some windows and installing weather seals around doors, the Library had reduced its hydro bill by about $1,000 from the previous year. MV had requested an explanation from Filipkowski because the Library’s hydro bill was considerably higher than the municipal offices, but had not taken into consideration that the Library was kept warm by electric baseboard heaters. Mayor Love suggested the Library consider further draft-proofing by adding a porch around the front steps. Filipkowski said she had already discussed this with Operations Manager Kutchkoskie and would re-visit the idea.