MAC'S MUSINGS: Should full-time city employees also be residents?

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Claude McIntosh

Armed with a legal opinion and the recent decision to restrict summer jobs to students whose parents live in the city or pay property taxes to the city, council is ready to take on the contentious issue of full-time hires.

The summer job hiring policy isn't radical. It makes good sense. It is common practice in the private sector to give employees' children first shot at summer jobs. City council is just putting a different twist on it.

Andre Rivette, the driving force behind the re-affirmed student hiring policy and a strong "Cornwall first" advocate, told his colleagues that "If they (parents) pay taxes in the community, their children should be having chances (to work for the city)."

Moving local students to the front of the line is common practice in neighbouring municipalities.

Extending the policy to full-time and/or part-time city employment is, as they say, a different kettle of fish.

While the law might allow the city to give preference to hiring folks who live in the city or pay taxes to the city, it is doubtful if the employer (city) could stop them from moving outside the city once hired.

"That's the part that will need more clarity from our legal people to see if there is a way to make sure that doesn't happen," said Rivette.

For Rivette, it makes sense to have the people who are being paid by city taxpayers paying city property taxes, or at least with a city address.

"More (property) tax dollars we receive will help in lowering (property) taxes in Cornwall," he said.

If by chance the city did have the right to force employees to live in the city, the problem would be what to do about all the current employees, including numerous managers, who live outside the city.

Rivette acknowledged that there is no way the city could ever force current employees to move to the city. The best he can hope for is a legal opinion that the city could prevent an exodus to neighbouring munciipalities. The chance of this happening is somewhere between none and not-at-all.

At least six top members of administration, including the CAO, do not live in the city. And over at Cornwall Police Services Board, Chief Dan Parkinson moved out of the city several years ago, a move which saw the board remove a clause that required him to live in the city. Rivette was part of the board which put the residency clause in the contract. He was not part of the board that removed the clause.

There is always a slippery side to such policies. Most of the city employees living outside the city contribute greatly to the local economy. And, like the police chief, they help improve the quality of life in the city by serving on boards and giving freely of their time.

A residency rule, as they say, is a double-edged sword.

SEEN & HEARD Disagree with Mayor Bob when he said the big pay hike his tie-breaking vote gave to city concillors (beginning in five months) was for the "next council." Well, sort of. But all those who voted for the raise want to be part of the next council, so they were voting to give themselves a raise. ... Someone pointed out that councillors spent more time debating the pay raise than they did on finalizing the 2014 budget. Hey, it's a matter of priorities ... Belleville (Quinte West) and its firefighters have settled on a three-year contract that gives the union members an annual wage increase of 3.48% (well above inflation). Actually, it wasn't the municipality that agreed to the increase, it was, who else, but a provincially-appointed arbitrator. Gotta love those arbitrators.

THIS & THAT Hate to break this to the folks playing up the misdeed at a waterfront committee meeting, but it doesn't register on the voters' radar. And the council pay increase will have little, if any, fallout come election day.

HERE & THERE The parting of the Red Sea has nothing on the way the federal Conservatives have parted ways with Mike Duffy. ... Funny game that politics. Two years ago it looked as if the fading federal Liberals would be taken in by the NDP. Today, the polls tells us that Justin Trudeau will be the next prime minister. ... There is no better columnist in this country than Postmedia's Christie Blatchford. Her recent pieces on how the justice system cares more about the accused than the victim are keepers.

SPORTS STUFF One of the few made-in-Cornwall hockey players to own a Memorial Cup ring is John Nazar who played three seasons for the Royals. His rookie season - 17 years old - was the quintessential dream season as a member of the 1972 Memorial Cup team. In his third season he was part of the highest goal-scoring line in team history. Nazar along with the great centre Gary MacGregor and Kevin Tracey piled up 194 goals. MacGregor became just the second Quebec Junior Hockey League player to score 100 goals (Guy Lafleur had 130) while Tracey had 53 and Nazar 41 (one four-goal game). Nazar is retired from General Motors and lives in St. Catharines. Nazar, who was in Cornwall on the weekend for a visit, wears the 1972 ring with pride. "Never take it off," he said. ... One of Nazar's favourite hockey-related stories is the "snowplow" yarn. One night three of his teammates were leaving a local watering hole (against all club rules) and spotted a city snowplow running while the operator was in getting a coffee. They got in the plow, drove it a couple of blocks before putting it in a parking lot. Weeks later, after the trio figured they had pulled off the caper without coach Orval Tessier finding out, in a playoff game the club was trailing after the second period, as Tess was leaving the locker room after giving them one of his fiery dressing downs he stopped, turned around and announced that the way some were playing they would make better snowplow drivers than hockey players.

TRIVIA ANSWER With 200 on its payroll, the Provincial Paper Mill was the biggest employer in the village of Mille Roches. It closed in 1952. One of its paper machines, No. 2, was moved to Thorold, Ont. In peak production, the mill shipped eight rail carloads of paper each day. It was torn down two years later as Mille Roches was wiped off the map by the St. Lawrence Seaway Project.

TRIVIA When Ed Lumley in December 1971 became Cornwall's youngest mayor, he defeated incumbent Nick Kaneb in a three-person race. Who was the third person on the mayoral ballot?

Organizations: Cornwall Police Services Board, Conservatives, NDP Royals Quebec Junior Hockey League General Motors

Geographic location: Cornwall, Quinte West, Red Sea Mille Roches Thorold

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Recent comments

  • Chantal Smaggus
    July 26, 2014 - 08:41

    Regarding the subject of hiring students living in city limits - I was very happy to hear this decision. Apart from of point of tax paying parents -this decision does so much more. Coming from a small community in another province where as soon as young adults have the chance they go west - this decision enforces the word community - this could help reduce the number of people leaving Cornwall once they have graduated and increase the number of them staying and growing their families here. This decision re-enforces the fact the Cornwall will look after their own . For young adults this means a lot- This decision is a start...but all great things start somewhere....... As for City full time staff, yes I truly believe they should only hire people living within city limits. You often see job ads where it states "must live within so many kilometres or must live in "certain city". They do this because if there are perks such as travel expenses to and from home or vehicle this saves a lot of money.