LONG SAULT, Ontario – South Stormont Council discussed a range of topics on Wednesday, Aug. 14, including the following:
OPP Staff Sgt. Kahn presented a report to Council regarding updated statistics in incidents in the municipality.
Throughout the month of July, sexual assault chargers decreased from six to four from 2018. Twenty-six assault charges were laid, break and enter incidents rose to 10 from six and thefts increased from 27 in 2018 to 40. Additionally, thefts from motor vehicles increased by 66 per cent, but after a suspect was charged, all thefts from motor vehicles ceased.
Sgt. Kahn said that staff will be discussing a traffic petition presented by residents of Rosedale Terrace and contemplating the implementation of a speed tracking sign in the neighbourhood in the future after a full analytical report. He indicated that officers had begun patrolling the area more frequently, not observing any speeders, but understands that random patrols do not give a comprehensive view.
It was also noted that SDG OPP had begun working with Montreal police, the CBSA and Hawkesbury OPP investigating a high-end theft ring that involved thieves attempting to transport stolen vehicles to the U.S. Sgt. Kahn said that efforts have been ‘fruitful’ as shipping containers with stolen vehicles were intercepted.
Financial Audit (for Council’s approval)
Jamie Pollock of MNP LLP presented an annual audit report to Council, stating that the municipality had a good fiscal year in financial affairs with an overall $1.975 million surplus from 2017 to 2018. An annual revenue of $14.4 million compared to a budgeted $13.4 million was due in part to an increased water and sewer taxable assessment.
“You are in a stronger financial position to meet operating expenditures if anything occurs,” said Pollock.
Pollock said that administration managed expenses quite well, despite being slightly over budget on road work, contracting higher costing environmental services work and increasing recreational services wages.
Pollock recommended that going forward, staff obtain various recorded quotes for purchases, as well as create targets for reserve funds, which although are in a very good financial position at around $10 million, $6.7 million of that is for water and sewer purposes, and a study to determine an appropriate level for any expansion project should be sought.
Council will approve this at a later date.
The Township’s asset management was briefly discussed, including its IT Master Plan which was originally budgeted at $75,000. A project kick-off meeting was planned for the middle of the month. Within improved IT software, Council plans to eventually broadcast or film and post meetings online.
CAO Deborah LucasSwitzer and Mayor McGillis briefly discussed how they both conducted research and approached various health organizations to discuss local doctor recruitment.
Council Vacancy Policy
A presentation was made regarding the Township’s implementation of a Council Vacancy Policy as there is currently none set in place for the municipality if a member of Council were to become ill or pass away.
The report analyzed policies of neighbouring municipalities like South Dundas and presented several recommendations. Council opted to further discuss in-house in the scenario of the Policy being required, expressing feelings of hesitation towards hold any bi-elections.
Dog Licensing & Control By-law, Zoning By-law
Some Councillors eluded to the importance of reviewing dog licensing and animal control/zoning By-laws following the devastating fire at Knot Furgotten rescue in Ingleside, which saw the demise of many rescued cats.
Coun. MacIsaac said that the Township should explore its options with licensing of cats as well, similar to Cornwall City’s council, as soon as possible.
“I don’t think this is something we should be sitting on for a long time,” said Coun. MacIsaac, expressing hopes to see a report next month. She also expressed looking at limits per household.
“This is going to be a difficult Policy to bring forward,” said Deputy Mayor Smith.
Mayor McGillis was in agreement that the Township was in a unique position, with some agricultural properties within the municipality. He expressed his hopes to protect residential areas to ensure a situation similar to the fire in Ingleside will not happen again.
It was noted that the province may unveil legislation on the topic in 2020. The By-laws will continue to be reviewed.
Seaway News plans to follow South Stormont Township updates and continue discussing topics seen during monthly meetings.