Paula Parker

Traffic committee dissolved due to town’s employee policy

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council has voted to dissolve one of its committees and bring back a bylaw with appointments to another.

The traffic committee is no more with administration bringing back a bylaw with appointments to the emergency management program committee. The town will also reconsider the appointment it made to the drainage committee made at the Dec. 12 meeting.

In a report to town council, clerk Paula Parker pointed out that administration learned that the person appointed to the drainage committee Dec. 12 – Josh Mailloux – is also a volunteer firefighter with the Amherstburg Fire Department.

“As such, Mr. Mailloux falls into the definition of a part time employee because he is paid and on call for his volunteer status with the Town and must follow Policy C00-00 Code of Conduct for Staff/Employees.”

Section 7.0 of that policy states that “no full-time or part-time permanent municipal employee shall be appointed to serve on a Municipal Board, Commission or Committee unless appointed as an Administrative Representative.”

Mailloux was on the committee of adjustment for seven years and has been a volunteer firefighter for eight years, Parker’s report states.

Councillor Diane Pouget said the appointment of Mailloux was done “in good faith” without knowing he was employed by the town as a volunteer firefighter.

Town Logo Small-web

After learning of the clause in the policy relating to code of conduct for staff and employees, Parker stated “administration realized that there are two other committees with cause for concern.”

The traffic committee was identified as an issue as it has one council member, this term being Councillor Jason Lavigne, and five staff voting members. In its place, traffic and complaints will be filtered through one administrative member who will, in turn, consult with necessary departments and bring recommendations to council.

The emergency management program committee is mandated by the province under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. The committee is to consist of employees appointed by council with each entitled to a vote. A bylaw will appoint the members of that committee with a similar procedure likely for the joint policing review committee.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the changes were due to the fact the town realized there was a problem and they wanted to take the necessary steps to correct the problem.

There were also additional members appointed to the economic development advisory committee. Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC) president Carolyn Davies was appointed as the ACOC representative while council chose to expand the committee and appoint two more lay committee members. Councillor Rick Fryer put the names of Marta Leardi-Anderson and John Edwards forward, believing the experience of both on the committee will be “priceless.”

“I really look forward to them being on the committee,” said Fryer.

Pouget agreed with Fryer, believing an extra person on the economic development advisory committee would be a help rather than a hindrance.

Councillor Joan Courtney didn’t disagree with the choices made for the committee, but voiced concern on how the choices were arrived at. She said she would have liked more dialogue on the applicants before making a final selection.

“I disagree with the process of how we do this,” said Courtney.

Mayor relieved after $9 million flooding lawsuit dropped

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town of Amherstburg is no longer facing a $9 million lawsuit in relation to the flooding event which occurred in August 2011.

The suit, filed two years after the flooding occurred, was dropped with the process of dropping the lawsuit beginning with an e-mail sent to the town in March. A report on Monday night’s council agenda indicated that subsequent e-mails have been received since updating the town on the status of the dismissal with the town now signing off on the full and final release.

“The simple answer is relief,” said Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, when asked of his reaction to the lawsuit being dropped. “This is a very large, heavy stone hanging around the town’s neck for many years now.”

Town hall signWEB

According to a report from clerk Paula Parker, the claim alleged $5 million in general non-pecuniary and aggravated damages for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and nuisance, $3 million in damages for diminution and loss of property and $1 million in punitive damages making the total cost facing the town and the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) $9 million.

“The Town’s insurer only covers general non-pecuniary and aggravated damages for nuisance, breach of fiduciary duty and nuisance. Therefore, if the litigation had been successful, the Town would have only been covered for $5 million,” Parker’s report stated. “Payout for uncovered damages would have been based on percentage of negligence found between the parties to the claim and was unpredictable. The town could have been responsible for an upset limit of $4 million.”

DiCarlo said the $4 million would have had to have been built into future budgets if it had been a judgment that high but noted it could have ranged from zero to $4 million. Due to that unpredictability, there wasn’t anything included in this year’s budget for it.

“That would have been (a) huge (impact) to the tax base,” he noted, of the $4 million potential payout. “It would have been something we would have had to address.”

During the course of the meeting, Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale wondered if the town could recoup any costs and was told by Parker the town had succeeded in doing that.

“This essentially didn’t cost us anything,” DiCarlo said after the meeting.

DiCarlo added this case was the biggest one the town had faced recently but noted there were “two or three” other cases the town had faced that were either dropped or settled in recent months.