An English proverb about spring weather goes, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” Photo above: Old Farmer’s Almanac. Image of excerpt: Gnomologia-adagies-and-proverbs 1783 wikipedia.org This might well describe Madawaska Valley Township’s budget process over the past few weeks.
At the March 2 Council in Committee meeting, we witnessed fireworks over enforcement of COVID-19 regulations as well as the discussion about control of fireworks in the municipality. But those blew over through deferring COVID-19 enforcement to the OPP, and downgrading control of fireworks to a line in the noise by-law and a public education campaign.
At the March 8 Council in Committee Budget meeting, we witnessed a display of short temper and eff-offery directed at Mayor Love by Councillor Peplinski, followed by a mild rebuke from the Mayor telling him that he should mute his microphone. By March 15 Peplinski had presumably received further “training” as he provided a brief statement of apology for his “unparliamentary and improper” language. The Current’s publisher, who was also the victim of “unparliamentary language” during a Council meeting from Councillor Peplinski, is still waiting for his apology.
PJYCC change affects tax bill
Up until Council met this month, residents were expecting to be hit with a tax bill that included an increase to cover the cost of borrowing a considerable sum for the renovation of the Paul J. Yakabuski Community Centre. A majority of the members of Council had previously insisted the rehabilitation project was urgently needed in order to participate in the 2022 Ontario Winter Games. When urging Council to consider borrowing to complete the project during 2021 Mayor Love had said, “Because otherwise we’ll be the council that’s left holding the bag when the ice goes out. I don’t want to be in that position.” On Mar.2 a discussion about use of the PJYCC as a COVID-19 vaccination centre provided members of Council with the opportunity to back down from their previous position and agree that not only is there a year of life left in the arena but also health comes first in the community.
2021 budget approved
The draft budget presented on March 8 for discussion and amendment was approved by Council on March 16. Taxpayers can expect an overall increase of 2.1 percent at the official budget presentation on April 20. Before then the County of Renfrew will have approved tax ratios. Because of transition to new accounting software, Council deferred the due dates for the first two instalments of taxes to the end of April and the end of May.
According to the most recent report (given at Jan.7 Council in Committee meeting), arrears of Madawaska Valley property taxes including interest and penalties totalled $1,431,219.07 as of Nov.30, 2020.
Some specific budget items
- Council approved amendments to the Water and Wastewater Leak Adjustment Policy. The MV Water and Wastewater budget will be set by Council on April 6, so taxpayers in the Village of Barry’s Bay will get a clearer picture of their 2021 charges then.
- The 2021 Curbside Pickup Area Rate Budget with a rate increase of 2.12 percent and Transfer Station Area Rate Budget with a rate increase of 2 percent were both approved by Council.
- Residents can expect two Household Hazardous Waste Day events in 2021; a date in July at Yard 2 for an event held jointly with Brudenell Lyndoch Raglan Township, and an August date at Yard 1 for MV residents only.
- A working group was established to look at residents’ requests regarding business and multi-unit residential rates for curbside pickup; Councillors Bromwich and Willmer volunteered for the group and are expected to meet with staff in June once more information about the upcoming Blue Box legislation is received.
- Capital Projects under the 2021 budget include Wilowski Road, thanks to the application of $130,761.58 of Gas Tax Funds. Also on the Public Works agenda for 2021 is Chapeskie Mill Road, to which $177,671.00 of OCIF funding will be applied. On Mar.8 Operations Manager Hilary Kutchkoskie assured Council that all the project for 2021 were listed on MV’s latest Road Needs Study. Council directed staff to proceed to RFP stage in 2021 so that the site is prepared and a tender goes out for the long-discussed sand dome at Yard 1. This would make MV ready for the construction phase in 2022.
- Under Finance & Administration, a staff recommendation that Madawaska Valley proceed with a service delivery review was approved. Finance Dept. staffing changes are anticipated late 2021 if confirmed by that review. $11,000 for the Community Safety & Well Being Plan is in the budget, along with $10,000 for asset management and $20,000 for the municipal office re-design and construction.
Annual waste site reports
On Mar.16, environmental consultants Pinchin presented the required annual reports of the municipality’s landfill and waste transfer sites, past and present, at Radcliffe, Paugh Lake, Barry’s Bay and Wilno. The Pinchin reports of site samples and monitoring are sent to the Ministry to keep the municipality compliant with regulations. Council questioned some exceedances in the reports but was told many were marginal and not considered a health risk. The Paugh Lake Road closed landfill site remains on target to be capped and closed relatively soon.
Other Council business Mar.16
The Pinchin reports comprised more than 870 pages in the 1005-page Agenda for the Mar.16 meeting, so you might be forgiven for not spotting a few other items of business approved by Council that day, such as:
- Under By-Laws, the municipality gave final plan approval for Registration of Plan of Condominium File: 47-CD-18002 RE: Combermere Lodge Ltd. and for Registration of the Plan of Subdivision File 47-T-18001 RE: Combermere Lodge Ltd. (i.e. Chippawa Shores development).
- Correspondence included a last-minute Resolution from County of Renfrew not in the Agenda package regarding Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) Gig Project. Council voted to support a request to both the federal and provincial governments to immediately fund the EORN Gig project.
- St. Francis Valley Healthcare Foundation will begin ticket sales for another round of Catch The Ace lottery on March 25.
- The municipality has received a grant of $31,520 through the Municipal Asset Management Program to be used for Building Condition Assessments for all Township of Madawaska Valley Facilities. The program is funded by the Government of Canada and delivered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.