How more than $427 million in taxpayer money is locked away in a forgotten government fund — and lawmakers won't spend it or return it
Republicans, Democrats, charities, and special-interest groups all have different ideas for a languishing — and massive — pot of money.This is not the setup to an elaborate joke, but rather, a cross-section of the ultra-wealthy candidates who have together spent almost $433 million (and counting) during the 2022 midterm election cycle.
Staffing was the hot topic of the most recent draft budget for Penetanguishene, and there were no easy answers to the questions asked.
At the recent special committee of the whole meeting for the third draft of the town’s 2023 budget, the $75,000 request of the Penetanguishene Public Library board for a full-time staff member as an 18% budget increase was debated along with a municipal public works request for a $31,000 full-time staff position to combine a harbour master and winter road patroller into one role.
While the two positions came from outside the presented budget, the key difference was that the staff request would be accountable to the municipality while the library board position would be accountable to the library board.
Mount Pearl city council didn't have a mat leave policy — until Chelsea Lane had a baby
The City of Mount Pearl has created a policy that allows for the automatic approval of extended maternity or parental leave for its elected officials. Chelsea Lane, a city councillor for Mount Pearl and a new mother, says policies like these are empowering.That was until Chelsea Lane, a city councillor for Mount Pearl, became the first woman to have a baby while on the city's council.
Deputy Mayor Dan La Rose remained unconvinced of the justification for the library position.
“They were given the same opportunity,” said La Rose, “the same timing as every other board, every other department. They came with their best case forward, I would imagine; why wouldn’t they?
“I think we need to let them know that an 18% increase is not justified for what they were asking.”
A motion to keep the library board operating budget request at a zero per cent increase, to stay at its 2022 budget request allocation, was defeated by council.
Coun. Bonita Desroches stated she would not support the 18% increase of the library position as they had presented it, and looked to council to have another “robust” presentation from the board to justify their position. Mayor Doug Rawson questioned why the board would need to make a presentation when council had effectively approved their request.
St. Mary’s council, regional library agree to settle dispute
ST. MARY’S – Council for the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s has accepted the recommendations of a provincially appointed consultant to resolve its long-running dispute with the Eastern Counties Regional Library (ECRL) board. Although none of the suggested remedies will give local legislators what they originally wanted — a better fee-for-service deal with ECRL, permission to break with the organization and join another regional library board, or to “go it alone” — councillors voted unanimously to accept the provincial government’s terms at its Dec. 12 regular council meeting.
“From my understanding, this budget isn’t approved until it’s approved… which is not today,” challenged Desroches. She added, “it could get defeated at the next stage if after their presentation it doesn’t fulfill the requirements.”
Council passed the motion for the board to appear prior to the next budget meeting.
La Rose addressed the next item, being the harbour master and winter road patrol consolidation request from staff, as a similar problem.
“For the life of me I’ve spent the last week and a half looking at it, and I do not understand how those two jobs could be combined, or why they should be full-time,” La Rose said.
CAO Jeff Lees and public works director Bryan Murray repeated points of their previous explanation where the current part-time harbour master was a seasonal six-month contract and the winter roads patroller was a five-month contract plagued with frequent staff turnover; one full-time position to cover both aspects would provide a 12-month role with benefits, which could be offered to candidates as incentive for job retention and to reduce training costs.
Town approves CIP funding
The Town of Strathmore received a request for funding approval through the Community Improvement Program (CIP), which was presented during the Dec. 14 special meeting of council. The CIP is a local program designed to support community organizations that improve Strathmore’s identity and quality of life, according to administration. Recommendations put forward through the CIP Evaluation Committee would support three applicant organizations in their efforts to create opportunities to connect with and celebrate the Strathmore community.
“We’ve been fortunate to have the same harbour master for the last six years, but the same can’t be said for the road patrollers which are rotational every year,” Murray explained. “We have to train and hire road patrollers every year. Very few come back.”
Council members agreed to the importance of both jobs individually. Desroches stated that if the town really wanted to make the dock area as a central focus then a knowledgeable harbour master would be a full-time position.
La Rose also heralded the harbour master position and its required knowledge base, but the connection of the two jobs evaded him.
“What does (harbour master) have in common with the person that also has to be a winter road patroller, going out at three o’clock in the morning and deciding that our roads need to be plowed?”
Other budget items steered the conversation away from discussion of the role, with council agreeing to review the matter at the next draft budget meeting.
Of interest was a request by Rawson to Murray regarding the budget allocation for roads, and whether it was enough to meet the needs of the residents over the winter.
Village of Alix council hears water commission rate hike in budget
Alix village council approved the regional water commission's 2023 budget, including a water rate hike, noting that residents would have to pay the water increase one way or another. The decision was made at the Wed. Dec. 7 regular meeting of council. Councillors read a report from Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White noting that the Hwy. #12/21 Water Commission submitted its 2023 budget which includes a hike to the retail water rate. “At the Nov. 16 council meeting a draft 2023 budget from Hwy. #12/21 was included on the agenda for council review and comment as is required by the water commission bylaws,” stated White’s agenda memo.
“This is one area I’m hearing loud and clear from the community that this is one area we don’t want to cheap out on,” said Rawson.
Murray responded: “The news that has been surfacing recently as a result of staffing absences that we’ve had in the roads division, and reverting back from our two-shift system to our single-shift system that we’ve had in place over many years up until the last couple of winter seasons.
“To clarify, we will be able to meet our winter maintenance requirements with this single-shift model that we’ve temporarily put in place,” Murray emphasized.
Updated information on the 2023 draft budget deliberations can be found on the Town of Penetanguishene budget web page.
A link to the budget draft #3 report can be found on the agenda page of the Town of Penetanguishene website.
Archives of the budget discussions within the special committee of the whole meeting are located on the Town of Penetanguishene YouTube channel.
Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca
NYC Council members who want ‘free’ stuff for migrants SHOULD chip in for it .
Mayor Eric Adams is 100% right: If City Council members keep pushing for “free” stuff for migrants, they should at least be willing to share in the costs. Last week, lawmakers — and nonprofit groups that benefit from their pork — threw hissy fits after Hizzoner told The Post he’d asked the council to “voluntarily” use half its $563 million in “discretionary dollars” to pay for the things they’re demanding. “I’m hearing from my council persons all the time that we need to give more free stuff away [for migrants]. This stuff costs money!” huffed Adams. Some lawmakers want “free” cellphones, Metrocards, etc.