Five per cent budget cuts, sharing of services, examining vehicle fleet among Lavigne’s priorities

 

Jason Lavigne is running for council in the Oct. 27 election. He said he has stayed involved since last running in 2010.

Jason Lavigne is running for council in the Oct. 27 election. He said he has stayed involved since last running in 2010.

By Ron Giofu

 

Jason Lavigne is making another run at a councillor’s seat with plans on how to reduce the town’s debt and run the town more efficiently.

Lavigne, who ran for council in 2010, stayed involved in municipal issues such as the Ombudsman closed meeting investigation, an OPP investigation into fundraising for town projects, a 2010 election finance audit and a petition for a financial audit.

“I tried to educate myself on how things run and how you do things properly. I learned a great deal over the last four years.”

Lavigne said he learned a lot about the Municipal Act and believes some on council may not have educated themselves enough. That said, he acknowledged it is an often tough job to be a council member.

“There’s not a lot of thanks being on Amherstburg council,” he said.

Lavigne expects all candidates to be transparent, fiscally responsible and accountable and added several of his ideas to achieve those goals, including having the budget process include a 5% reduction strategy. He believed the town could save $3-5 million over the four years that could be put towards the debt or back into reserves.

Assessing and reducing the town’s current vehicle fleet and putting new vehicle purchase rules in place is another idea. Lavigne believes some of the town’s current fleet could be downsized from full-sized pickup trucks to more economical vehicles.

Sharing services is another way the town can be more efficient, he said. That would include approaching Western Secondary School for assistance with the hanging basket program and finding other ways for the police service to cost share, though adding the latter would not include switching to OPP. Lavigne added “we’re getting bang for our buck” in policing but the town’s safest community in Canada designation is the combined effort of police and the residents.

While noting there are good people in administration, he said other companies trim staff to save money. He stated the unionized workforce is doing a great job.

“I think we’ve added a few layers in management that could be reduced,” he said.

Fewer consultants should be used, he added, and that elected council members be “put back to work.”

Debt level is another issue and he stated it is important to know what the debt is and to “save first and spend second” in order to help pay it down.

Lavigne stated it should be easier for residents to address council, noting delegation requests have to be in seven days prior to the meeting even though the agendas aren’t finalized until later in the week. Other ideas include possibly televising council meetings, putting line-by-line accounts payable reports online and ensuring more public meetings are held prior to decision making.

Lavigne said he is a lifelong resident that believes the town has more positives than negatives. He said the residents are most important.

“They have to come first,” he said. “They are paying the bills.”

 

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