John Miceli

CAO defends family members on town’s payroll, says he wasn’t part of hiring process

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

With knowledge being gained by members of the public that CAO John Miceli has family members working for the town, he is defending the hiring process.

Miceli acknowledged that his brother is now an electrician for the town and that he has a nephew working as a part-time general labourer but he cited town policies and his involvement in the hiring process, or lack thereof, as reasons why he views both hires as being proper. The CAO pointed out there is a town anti-nepotism policy, enacted Dec. 13, 2004, that prohibits against the hiring of qualified persons “whether or not they have immediate relatives employed in the town or whether or not they have immediate relatives as a member of town council, provided that no applicant shall be hired for employment except with the approval of town council to occupy a position in the same immediate working area, under the same immediate supervisor or where one or more of his/her family supervises another.”

The policy, Miceli pointed out, is written to where it says it should “neither be a hindrance nor advantage to employment in the Town of Amherstburg” and that the town “will not discriminate in its hiring practices on the basis that the person is related to a current employee or member of town council.” The policy states that the employer may grant or withhold employment or advancement in employment to a person who is a spouse, child or parent of the employer or an employee.

“Our overall intent remains that vacated positions may be staffed by qualified candidates selected on the basis of education, experience, knowledge, ability and suitability within the framework of legislation, collective agreements, equal opportunity, budgetary limitations and corporate needs,” the policy reads.

CAO John Miceli.

Miceli stated allegations against him that something improper was done “doesn’t meet the test of nepotism under town policies.” He said the town is “committed to hiring the most qualified individuals” and said he was not part of any hiring panels to fill the positions his brother and nephew both got.

His brother “is a qualified electrician and he holds a master’s license,” said Miceli. The hiring panel consisted of the manager of facilities, manager of roads and fleet and the human resources manager. His nephew was interviewed by the manager of facilities and the human resources manager and was one of four applicants.

“I was not involved in the hiring process,” he said. “I’ve been in (municipal government) for 27 years and I respect policies and procedures. You will not see me hire a unionized position and these are unionized positions. I do not supervise these people.”

Miceli believed a lot of people who complain are “anti-change” and said there are a lot of people who are related to each other working for the town.

“We are not going to discriminate against family if they are the most qualified,” said Miceli. “Why would we?”

The town hiring of an electrician and a plumber and bringing the work inside instead of contracting it out is something Miceli said is his track record.

“We were spending far more on contractors to do the work rather than do it internally,” he said. “Seeing the types of bills happening in town showed for me why we need to do the work in house. The town was not getting value for money.”

Both are also facility attendants, he added, meaning that if there was not enough electrical or plumbing work in town, they have other duties to tend to.

The CAO added that hiring the best candidates often means hiring from out-of-town.

“All we’re looking for is the most qualified individuals,” Miceli contended. “Wherever they reside is no concern of mine.”

Acknowledging the public concern that many former Windsor staff members are employed in Amherstburg, Miceli said 178 city employees reside in Amherstburg.

“I just find it so interesting that people in town think you have to hire in town,” he said.

Miceli said he is willing to match his record against any other previous CAO.

“Please put my record against any of them,” he said. “Show me where I have done wrong.”

Miceli added he has an open door policy and is willing to discuss issues with residents, but noted council makes decisions based on recommendations of administration and administration executes.

“If there is a resident who has issues with the way I am running the organization, they can file a complaint,” said Miceli. “They can file a complaint against me and the hiring practices of the town.”

Town receives grant to assist with work at Duffy’s site

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn was demolished several months ago and now the town has received word it has received grant funding to help pay for that cleanup.

The Government of Canada and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) announced $45 million in Green Municipal Fund (GMF) grants and loans in support of 28 environmental initiatives led by local governments across Ontario. Those announcements came Friday and Amherstburg received $142,900.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo was pleased with Friday’s announcement.

“We did apply for it some time ago for the clean-up of the property and it looks like we were successful,” said DiCarlo.

DiCarlo said the town still applies for grants but the projects are not contingent on grant funding. Money is budgeted for projects and “grants are like a bonus” in that it frees up money for other things.

“It’s that much less we have to front,” said DiCarlo. “When you are working on the project anyway, it’s always nice to get a letter that says ‘by the way, the work you are doing is going to be paid for.’ It’s fantastic.”

Timelines on the Duffy’s property depend on other factors, said DiCarlo, and those factors are still being worked on and can’t be announced just yet.

“The residents want to see (the Duffy’s site) done ASAP,” the mayor acknowledged.

DiCarlo also credited town administration and staff for their grant writing abilities.

“We’re known for being successful in getting grants,” said DiCarlo. “We have people who understand government processes. They know what they’re doing, they really do. Full credit to them for that.”

Demolition was completed at the Duffy’s site in September. The town received a grant Dec. 15 helping with clean-up of the site.

CAO John Miceli confirmed the money will apply retroactively to the town’s clean-up of the site. He said the next phase is a report of site conditions, which will be worked on in 2018. He said their consultant Golder & Associates will go in, drill at various points at the site and perform an Environmental Assessment (EA).

The early cost estimate to develop the site is $5-6.5 million with a 500-seat amphitheatre, marina, boat ramp, fishing wharf, service buildings and plazas among what is currently proposed for the site. Miceli is hopeful of starting construction in 2019. He noted that is a federal election year and that additional grants could flow in the town’s direction.

“It’s a good sign,” the CAO said of Friday’s grant announcement. “That shows they want to help it come to fruition.”

Miceli added the town maximized the available grant funding for this stage of the process.

According to a news release sent by FCM: “Municipalities across Canada are modelling some of Canada’s most innovative green solutions. This highlights their commitment to being part of the solution as Canada works to meet its Paris Agreement commitments by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while creating jobs and growing its clean economy.
Some of the richest potential to reduce Canada’s GHG emissions lies in scaling up local innovation, and peer learning is at the very core of GMF, making it easier for municipalities to take on green innovation in their community.”
Fridays’s announcement was made by London North Centre MP Peter Fragiskatos on behalf of Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources and Clark Somerville, FCM past president.

“Our government is proud to support initiatives through the Green Municipal Fund that can help make communities more sustainable and provide a better quality of life for Canadians. These projects demonstrate the excellent work being undertaken throughout the province to promote innovative clean solutions and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Fragiskatos.
“Looking at the initiatives being funded today, it’s clear municipalities are taking the lead on some of the country’s most promising green innovations. Not only do they deliver tangible and ongoing benefits to residents, they are an important part of the solution in our national effort to fight climate change. With continued national leadership and investment, remarkable progress is possible,” added Somerville in the press release.

The Government of Canada endowed the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) with $550 million to establish the Green Municipal Fund. An additional $125 million top-up was announced in the 2016 federal budget. The Green Municipal Fund supports partnerships and leveraging of both public and private sector funding to reach higher standards of air, water and soil quality, and climate protection. To date it has funded over 1,400 municipal initiatives.

Residents state rumble strips causing negative impact to their lives

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council will look at what to do about rumble strips on rural roads, some that have recently been maintained.

Melissa Gidillini said that her and her parents have been negatively impacted by rumble strips that were re-cut in front of their Concession 3 North home. Gidillini said her parents purchased the home four years ago and the noise from vehicles passing over the rumble strips have decreased their property value and impacted their lives.

The noise affected her mother’s health and well-being and her father’s ability to get a good night’s sleep, she said, and wondered if there are other ways to alert motorists to the nearby intersection rather than rumble strips. She hoped something could be done “to preserve the sanity of the citizens.”

Councillor Diane Pouget said council members have received many e-mails about the issue and asked whether administration could do something to reduce the noise but allow drivers to stay safe as well. She was told that rumble strips give notice to drivers that an intersection is coming in case they are driving while distracted or if visibility is poor.

Councillor Leo Meloche said he has also received e-mails and has heard from people crying on the phone, adding that council agreed to rumble strips near Howard Ave. and Alma St. as a way to “mitigate loss of life.” Public works re-cut some of the other rumble strips as a maintenance measure, CAO John Miceli believed, with Meloche and Councillor Rick Fryer wondering if the cuts to the roadway were too deep thus increasing the level of noise.

Meloche added that, based on his research, some municipalities have scrapped rumble strips altogether due to noise complaints.

“I wouldn’t want them in front of my bedroom. My kids and my wife would be going nuts too,” he said.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin noted that the rumble strips were put in due to council motions. He said that accidents at intersections can be traced to a variety of factors and that administration would have to look at particular instances. Removal of the rumble strips at this stage could expose the town to liability concerns due to other councils passing motions to install them.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale said he was in favour of taking a look at the issue, but stated people have gotten used to the noise over time.

Amherstburg police chief Tim Berthiaume said there have been three fatalities in recent years and believed they could have been possibly been prevented with rumble strips. He said the accidents involved people who know the area.

“We have to ask ourselves as a police department, why are they blowing stops if they are from here?” said Berthiaume.

Meloche added that if people walk into a door, would the door be removed?

“We have to stop this B.S. and say a mistake was made,” said Meloche. “Should people in the community pay for their mistakes?”

Local resident Greg Nemeth believed that lowering and enforcing speed limits could make a difference.

“Slow them down and we’re going to save a lot of lives,” said Nemeth.

The report will come back to council and is expected to detail options on what council can do to properly address the issue.

Windsor police proposal deemed “viable,” public meetings to come

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The police costing process is moving ahead as town council has agreed with the Joint Police Advisory Committee (JPAC) that the Windsor Police Service (WPS) is “viable.”

As the Windsor Police Service ended up being the only service that actually submitted a bid under the town’s Request for Proposals (RFP) for policing services, it was the lone option discussed at Monday night’s town council meeting. CAO John Miceli, a member of the JPAC, believed there are “significant savings” for the town should they opt to switch from the Amherstburg Police Service (APS) to WPS.

Miceli said the proposal satisfies the provisions the town set out for its police service. The CAO reported to council that the town could save $567,802 per year should a switch occur, which would translate into over $2.8 million over five years.

There would also be the elimination of post-retirement liabilities, which currently sit at $3.9 million. Miceli added the town would be able to re-purpose $380,580 from the police reserve for other municipal purposes and that there would be cost containment going forward.

“The Windsor Police Services’ proposal is viable and meets the requirements of the RFP and Joint Police Advisory Committee,” he said.

The positions of chief and deputy chief would be eliminated and there would be a staff sergeant looking after the current Amherstburg officers. Miceli indicated that Tim Berthiaume and Ian Chappell could be reassigned within Windsor police. There would be opportunities for promotion for some officers as well, he indicated.

“For our residents, faces aren’t going to change. There would just be a different reporting structure,” said Miceli.

Vehicles would be assumed by the Windsor Police Service “wherever possible” and most equipment would be as well except body cameras and non-lethal shotguns. Reintroduction of body cameras down the road is possible if WPS’ tests are positive.

Administrative calls would still be handled by existing civilian members at the Amherstburg police station.

Should a switch be made, the current Amherstburg Police Service and Amherstburg Police Services Board would be disbanded with the mayor or a designate being appointed to the Windsor Police Services Board.

Four public meetings are scheduled for different locations within Amherstburg Jan. 17, 18, 25 and 27, with most being evening meetings. The Jan. 27 meeting is proposed to be held in late morning or early afternoon on a Saturday. The CAO indicated that Berthiaume, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Windsor police chief Al Frederick, consultant Mike Mitchell as well as himself would be at the meetings to answer questions.

Miceli believed the town could benefit from additional services and units offered by WPS, and noted that current Amherstburg officers as well as Windsor officers would help out at public events.

DiCarlo said that residents can expect a detailed analysis of the Windsor police proposal, adding they can compare directly with what is currently available with the Amherstburg Police Services.

The mayor indicated there is a lot of information to discuss and the public meetings will help the town and residents talk more in-depth about the proposal.

Noting he was qualifying his statement that he was not advocating one service over the other, DiCarlo said the WPS proposal was significant in different areas. Windsor police addressed “every last detail” in the RFP and while cost savings are not as much as some people are looking for, he noted the town will keep the existing Amherstburg police station.

“If we ever wanted to go back (should a switch be made), we still have a building,” said the mayor.

The offer to take over long-term liabilities and benefits was pointed out by DiCarlo, noting the $3.9 million will likely grow in future years due to people living longer, insurance and inflation.

“In simple terms, the one nice thing about this is whether you agree or not, we’re comparing apples to apples,” said DiCarlo.

Miceli indicated a final decision could be made by council as early as Feb. 26.

Town officially passes 2018 budget

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The 2018 budget is now officially passed.

Town council, who had discussed the budget in detail during Nov. 28-29 budget deliberations, formally approved the document with no changes to the previously discussed rates. That means Amherstburg taxpayers will see their taxes go up 2.29 per cent this year, meaning a home assessed at $200,000 will see a $43.29 increase. The tax rate increase itself is 0.83 per cent with the two per cent levies being increased by 0.75 per cent increase.
The increase to the levies will allow for an additional $300,000 to be placed into the town’s reserves for capital infrastructure projects.

When school board and county taxes are factored in, the tax increase would be 1.69 per cent, or $54.31 on a $200,000 home.

Changes to assessments were factored in via a 2.37 per cent within the budget for a growth rate, but individual MPAC assessments could vary depending on homeowner.

Discussion of the budget was limited, with Councillor Leo Meloche questioning some costs pertaining to the Belle Vue property. While $75,000 was inserted as “seed money,” CAO John Miceli said he was confident that the Belle Vue Conservancy had raised enough money to have roof repairs done early in 2018. Meloche said while he would like to see Belle Vue restored, council was told no taxpayer money would be used.

“I want to see this happen but we’ve got to get significant money up front,” said Meloche.

Meloche added he is involved in another capital project and appreciates that raising donations is difficult, but hoped that Belle Vue fundraising efforts aren’t “petering out.”

CAO John Miceli said those efforts are not “petering out” and that the conservancy paid for roof and window evaluations. The windows are the next scheduled project, he said.

Miceli noted that both he and treasurer Justin Rousseau get regular updates from the conservancy and praised the conservancy for taking on “yeoman’s work on behalf of the town.”

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the budget passed without much further discussion as the issue had been discussed in detail during deliberations.

“This budget really stood out to me,” he said. “It is an amazing evolution from where we started.”

The budget was very detailed, DiCarlo added, and credited administration for their work.

“Everything is accounted for, everything is explained,” he said. “I can’t see any major changes in how this is presented.”

Residents can refer to the budget should they have questions on anything, he added.

“We do listen, we do act when we can and these are the results that come from it,” said DiCarlo. “We’re better now than we were three years ago.”

Councillor Rick Fryer also praised administration publicly, stating “things went smoothly this year” and that residents appreciate the effort that went into the budget.