John Paterson

Essex County to hold onto library strike savings, pledge to use it for library purposes

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The $790,000 that was saved during the 230-day Essex County library strike will not be coming back to municipalities.

Instead, Essex County council will set that money aside in a reserve that municipalities and the county itself can tap into for issues specifically related to libraries.

County CAO Brian Gregg noted the $790,000 in savings was due to the money not being spent due to the strike and said it was not administration’s intent to “bury it and have it go away.” The money was temporarily placed in a reserve, he said, with the intent to bring it back to county council for discussion on what to do with it.

“The county doesn’t have a way to rebate this to the ratepayers,” said Gregg.

Gregg suggested there were “a number of ways” the money could be used, suggesting it could be used to support the library system.

Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo questioned how much the library system didn’t receive in government funding due to the strike. DiCarlo, who had asked for that figure at prior meetings, was told that it was “coming soon.” Gregg said a review of the figures shows that total is roughly $140,000.

Library workers picket outside of Amherstburg town hall last year. Approximately one year after this photo was taken, Essex County council decided to put $790,000 saved during the library strike into a reserve with the plan of using the money for library-related purposes.

Library workers picket outside of Amherstburg town hall last year. Approximately one year after this photo was taken, Essex County council decided to put $790,000 saved during the library strike into a reserve with the plan of using the money for library-related purposes.

DiCarlo was one of five county council members who opposed the motion.

Amherstburg council was one of the municipalities that asked for the money to be refunded.

Tecumseh Deputy Mayor Joe Bachetti liked the idea of using the funds for library services with Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos making the motion to set the money aside and allowing municipalities to tap into it should their library buildings need capital improvements.

Santos compared it to when Windsor-Essex Economic Development Commission (WEEDC) funding was returned, with the condition that money be used for economic development.

Leamington Deputy Mayor Hilda MacDonald stated the $790,000 was generated because the ratepayers did not get the library services and believed “it absolutely needs to go back to the people” who paid the money to begin with. Leamington Mayor John Paterson believed others on county council were saying local municipalities could not be trusted and believed the county did not need more reserve funds, as it already has $120 million in reserves.

Santos said it wasn’t a matter of trust and said the money will be set aside for when municipalities are ready to put a shovel in the ground for projects.

Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale said he has been hearing from a lot of people wondering what is going on with the money and hopes they can regain trust from those who lost it during the strike.

DiPasquale said after the meeting that the use of the money has been “pretty transparent” thus far. He agreed with the motion.

“It is fairness,” he said. “I hope the public understands that. I thought it was fair.”

Warden Tom Bain said the money was collected through the county levy and believed the big factor is that it will be earmarked specifically for library needs. He indicated the funds could also be used to lower increases brought to county council by the library board at budget time.

Returning the money to ratepayers wouldn’t be worth it, Bain believed, as it would amount to about $4 per resident.

Community Living Essex County pleased with 2017 golf tournament

 

 

By RTT Staff

 

Community Living Essex County (CLEC) held its 27th annual Charity Golf Classic last week and were happy with the results.

The tournament, held last Thursday at Sutton Creek Golf Club in McGregor, drew fewer golfers this year (126) than last year (143) but manager of community relations and resource development Tony DeSantis said CLEC is still hopeful of reaching its $20,000 goal.

“I think we made more than last year because have more corporate sponsors,” said DeSantis.

CLEC made $18,000 from the 2016 Charity Golf Classic.

While the tournament was open to all interested golfers, part of the event was the Municipal Cup competition between the participating Essex County municipalities. Leamington – comprised of Mayor John Paterson, CAO Peter Neufeld, Brian Humphrey and Ward Hutchins – repeated as Municipal Cup champions by beating two Kingsville teams as well as teams from Amherstburg, LaSalle and Lakeshore.

Team Amherstburg was comprised of Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Councillor Leo Meloche, fire chief Bruce Montone and retired fire chief Al Reaume.

Community Living Essex County held its annual golf tournament last Thursday at Sutton Creek Golf Club in McGregor. Leamington repeated as winners of the “Municipal Cup” portion of the tournament, which was a competition between Essex County municipalities. From left: Leamington CAO Peter Neufeld, Brian Humphrey, Leamington Mayor John Paterson, Ward Hutchins.

Community Living Essex County held its annual golf tournament last Thursday at Sutton Creek Golf Club in McGregor. Leamington repeated as winners of the “Municipal Cup” portion of the tournament, which was a competition between Essex County municipalities. From left: Leamington CAO Peter Neufeld, Brian Humphrey, Leamington Mayor John Paterson, Ward Hutchins.

Community Living Essex County is grateful to the municipalities, DeSantis added, noting CLEC operates in each of the seven county municipalities. He noted Amherstburg’s re-entry into the Municipal Cup portion of the tournament and said it was DiCarlo’s first year in the tournament.

“We wouldn’t be able to do this without the support of the communities,” said DeSantis.

DeSantis called this year’s tournament “a positive experience” and believed people left happy with the day. He paid tribute to long time volunteer Fred Mitchell, who not only golfed, but recruited golfers and sponsorships. The team of volunteers was also thanked with the volunteers and golfers also recognized by board of directors 2nd vice president Sue Desjarlais and CLEC director of operations Karen Bolger.

A final fundraising total will be announced in the coming weeks.

Community Living Essex County supports over 650 people with an intellectual disabilities and their families. For more information on the agency, visit www.communitylivingessex.org.

County council to receive report on funding and cost distribution of EMS services

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Amherstburg council and their Essex County colleagues will soon be getting more answers regarding EMS funding and service.

Essex County council directed its administration to provide an information report regarding funding and cost distribution of EMS services. That motion was passed last Wednesday night but stemmed from an original request from Amherstburg council in April.

County council had deferred the matter from its June 7 meeting. County CAO Brian Gregg believed the request from Amherstburg will be covered in a comprehensive report.

“Does Amherstburg feel they paying too much or not enough for EMS services?” asked Leamington Mayor John Paterson.

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“The simple answer is we don’t know,” responded Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo.

Noting that all municipalities don’t have tiered response, DiCarlo noted that “a lot of money” is spent by Amherstburg to send its firefighters out on medical calls while an ambulance was delayed. He didn’t begrudge any municipality for not having a tiered system with its fire department, but believed the cost issues need to be investigated further.

“At some point, we are going to have to address this,” said DiCarlo.

The issue should be addressed at “an EMS level,” he believed, adding that if they are short ambulances, the solution could be to add more ambulances.

“If we have to add more ambulances, so be it,” said DiCarlo.

Essex County council begins process of redefining road network

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

What is likely to be a long, arduous process of redefining what the Essex County road network is has gotten underway.

A special meeting of Essex County council took place last Wednesday night with the meeting being somewhat out of the ordinary as it was facilitated by Roger Bryan, a retired partner with KPMG whom the county has engaged as a consultant.

The roughly 90-minute “visioning session” saw county council members asked to answer what they consider the purpose of the county road network and what factors and influences should be contemplated when developing the criteria to determine whether or not a road is a county road.

“I’m very pleased with how the meeting went,” said Warden Tom Bain. “I think there were a lot of various opinions.”

Bain said no solid conclusions were reached, nor were any expected to be reached as this was the first of what is likely to be many meetings to hash out what is a county road and what isn’t.

“I feel strongly that we got the ball rolling,” said Bain. “There was a lot of meat put on the table.”

One of the issues was financial inequity, as some members of county council believe their towns pay too much in assessments for what they receive back in road funding. Bain believes that will be an area that will be looked at further as the process progresses.

“It’s going to be a long, slow, tedious job but I feel we’ll come up with a solution,” said Bain, noting he has a goal of having it completed if not by the end of 2017, by the 2018 municipal election.

County CAO Brian Gregg told county council members at the start of the meeting that no criteria was expected to be developed by the end of the first meeting but “we want you to tell us what you want that criteria to look like.”

Consultant Roger Bryan speaks to Essex County councillors last Wednesday night during a meeting on the county’s road network. The county has started a process to review its road system.

Consultant Roger Bryan speaks to Essex County councillors last Wednesday night during a meeting on the county’s road network. The county has started a process to review its road system.

Many elected officials said county roads are roadways that connect municipalities and high traffic areas with one another. Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said he understood that to be the definition and that if that is the case, the county has to be careful on how it designates its roadways. County roads can’t be determined so that a higher amount of dollars will flow to individual municipalities for projects.

“You can’t just designate a street just because you want to give a municipalities more percentage,” said DiCarlo.

Bain suggested that county roads also have to be roads that see a lot of goods transported with Essex Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche suggesting connecting areas of tourism also should be considered for county road status. Tecumseh Deputy Mayor Joe Bachetti believed the county should look at the road network as a way to connect rural settlement areas.

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara believed there should be “a clear outline for this process” and that open discussion should be had with the lower tier municipalities. Decisions should be made on based on such issues as traffic counts and future growth projections.

“There’s got to be more input,” agreed Essex Mayor Ron McDermott.

LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya wanted a “fair process” and didn’t think his town was getting its share of the county’s road dollars.

“As partners, we should all be concerned about each other. (LaSalle) doesn’t feel like partners,” said Antaya. “I feel we’re just a source of money because we’re not getting a lot.”

Lakeshore Deputy Mayor Al Fazio believed a lot of how county roads are funded has to do with the geographic size of the municipalities.

“It’s not our fault the government shoved (amalgamation) down our throats,” said Fazio.

Fazio said ideally each municipality should be funded equally “but the reality is it’s never going to be equal.”

Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo (left) gives feedback during a meeting on the county road system Jan. 25. Consultant Roger Bryan (right) listens to DiCarlo's comments.

Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo (left) gives feedback during a meeting on the county road system Jan. 25. Consultant Roger Bryan (right) listens to DiCarlo’s comments.

DiCarlo indicated that the most effective routes to move people or goods should be looked at for designation and questioned whether the meeting was to look at what the definition of county roads are or whether it was a meeting to discuss assessment costs.

“To me, it’s almost two different issues,” said DiCarlo.

Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale suggested some roads may need changing but viewed county roads as the most important transit routes in Essex County. Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos said standards were developed when there were 21 county municipalities instead of the current seven and that maybe there are roads that need to have their designations changed.

Meloche believed “there’s always going to be disparity” and that looking at specific issues could pit municipalities against each other.

“The next thing you know, we’re not county council,” said Meloche.

Leamington Mayor John Paterson believed municipalities like Tecumseh, LaSalle and his own are overpaying when looking at assessments versus their percentage of the road network, adding that Amherstburg is slightly underpaying. He said Amherstburg has 12.7 per cent of the road network but pays 11.6 per cent of the assessment.

Paterson suggested that the assessment dollars be kept by each municipality and that they look after their own roads.

“So far, no one has convinced me we need county roads,” he said during the meeting.

Fazio disagreed.

“We all need each other. Pulling out is not the way to go.”