Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority

EWSWA finally making progress on 2017 and 2018 budgets

 

By Ron Giofu

 

After over a year of going back-and-forth with each other, County of Essex and City of Windsor representatives on the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority (EWSWA) are close to having a budget.

The authority met last Tuesday evening and came to terms on not only a 2018 budget, but a 2017 budget as well. The issue dates back to Dec. 2016 when Essex County council refused to accept a proposed 2017 budget at that time. That refusal caused over a year of meetings and negotiations between the county and the city.

The 2017 budget calls for a zero per cent increase while a two per cent increase is recommended for 2018.

Warden Tom Bain said a surplus for 2017 helped out. Additional revenue, according to a subsequent report in the agenda for last Tuesday’s EWSWA meeting, indicated there was as much as $958,950.

“We’re going to be able to hold the line at zero for 2017 and then the request is to look at a two per cent increase for 2018,” said Bain.

Bain called the budget process “very interesting” and admitted it took longer than they thought it would. However, he was pleased that an agreement has finally been reached.

“I’m pleased that (Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkins) and myself and both of our CAO’s have been able to sit down at the table and thrash this out,” says Bain.

There could be more increases over the next few years, Bain predicted.

“We can’t continue to tap into our reserves,” he said.

The 2017 and 2018 EWSWA budgets will not become finalized until both have been approved by Essex County council and Windsor city council.

County, city make progress towards 2017 EWSWA budget

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

After a prolonged dispute between the County of Essex and City of Windsor, it appears a 2017 budget has finally been struck for the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority (EWSWA).

The board has been operating without a budget during the past year as the county and city representatives on the board were unable to agree on a budget. County council rejected a 2017 budget at their Dec. 2016 meeting but it was at their second meeting of December of 2017 that elected officials learned progress appears to be at hand.

Responding to a question on the matter from LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya, Warden Tom Bain said that he met with Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkins on the matter and that they – along with the chief administrative officers (CAOs) from the two municipalities – have reached a compromise.

“We have come up with a solution to the problem,” Bain reported to Essex County council.

Bain expressed confidence it will be a solution that the EWSWA board will approve of. Should it be approved of at that level, it would have to be also approved by county and city councils.

The warden did not provide much detail as to what the proposed new budget contains, but indicated that the county wants to ensure there are reserves for the landfill “and this (agreement) will do that.”

“We feel we’ve reached a compromise,” Bain told reporters after the meeting, noting it has been a “unique” situation to go for a full calendar year without one.

“We’ve been able to carry on and pay the bills and not run into any problems,” said Bain.

The recommended solution will also assist in drafting a 2018 budget as well as lay the groundwork for the next five to ten years, he believed.

“We’re going to suggest a path to be followed so we don’t encounter these problems again,” said Bain.

The warden added that he, Dilkins and the two CAOs put their “cards on the table” and after some “give and take,” they were finally able to come up with a solution.

The proposal is expected to go before the EWSWA in early January.

Warden, Windsor mayor to join EWSWA budget talks this week

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority (EWSWA) is still without a 2017 budget but that could change this week.

Essex County Warden Tom Bain and Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkins will meet this week and try and finalize a new budget. The county rejected a proposed 2017 budget last December, one that called for a zero per cent increase. County officials believed that budget was short-sighted and would simply defer costs down the road as the landfill could not be realistically operated with a rate freeze.

A 4.11 per cent increase had been recommended but by passing it with a zero per cent increase, it meant a dip into the EWSWA’s rate stabilization reserve thus bringing it down from $13.2 million to $12.2 million. A 2018 budget had also been passed, as Windsor had the majority of members on the EWSWA board at the time.

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Bain said the two CAO’s – Brian Gregg from the County of Essex and Onorio Colucci of Windsor – have been meeting to try and hash out a new budget with the results to be brought to himself and Dilkins this week.

“Should the proposal look appropriate, it will be brought back to the councils,” said Bain.

Bain believed a resolution had been reached, but noted he couldn’t go into details. He said last Wednesday night that he hadn’t seen all of the details at that point but was confident the two CAO’s ironed out a solution.

If the meeting yields a new budget, it will be a relief, the warden added.

“Unfortunately, it’s dragged on a long time,” he said.

Essex County council votes down proposed EWSWA budget

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The proposed Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority (EWSWA) budget has been rejected by Essex County council.

County council unanimously rejected the budget last Wednesday night. The EWSWA budget calls for a zero percent increase in 2017 as well as 2018. The budget was arrived at by the authority Nov. 29 but county representatives slammed the budget that was approved due to Windsor having a majority of members on the board.

A 4.11 per cent increase had been recommended but by passing it with a zero per cent increase, it meant a dip into the EWSWA’s rate stabilization reserve thus bringing it down from $13.2 million to $12.2 million.

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara said the zero per cent budget is “ludicrous” and that operating the landfill with a rate freeze is not realistic.

“At some point in time, you’ve got to pay,” said McNamara. “It makes no sense to me.”

Such factors as rising fuel costs at the landfill have to be dealt with, he continued, and that it was “foolish” to try and accommodate everything “by the skin of your teeth.

“You’ve got to find money somewhere and pay the fiddler up front,” said McNamara. “To me, this is a disservice to our taxpayers in the future. We are mortgaging our future to look good today.”

LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya, one of the county representatives on the EWSWA board, said he was “surprised beyond belief” that the budget was approved at the authority level with a zero per cent increase. He also questioned whether procedures were violated by passing a motion regarding the 2018 budget.

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To reconsider that motion requires a two-thirds majority, and Antaya was resigned to the fact the county didn’t have enough votes to do so. He also shared similar concerns to McNamara.

“By not paying the bill today, we’re just delaying it for the next generation,” said Antaya.

County council members were also concerned that if a zero per cent increase proceeds for the next two years, EWSWA administration projects that the rate increase could be as high as 9.87 per cent in 2019.

Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos believed the freezing of rates for two years was more due to “political expediency” than anything else. He believed they would be “going down the wrong path” by approving the budget as presented.

“It doesn’t make business sense,” said Santos.

Essex Mayor Ron McDermott, another member of the EWSWA board, said the county representatives were “100 per cent against” the zero per cent increase. He questioned why city representatives didn’t listen to EWSWA administration as “they do the work” in preparing the budget.

“(Windsor) could care less about families, they could care less about their neighbours,” stated McDermott. “We’re going backwards at zero per cent. I can’t see us doing anything but turn this down. This is terrible that anyone could even think of this.”

There isn’t a lot of “fat” in the EWSWA budget, added Leamington Deputy Mayor Hilda MacDonald, adding county representatives were told they have a “traditional” approach to budgeting.

“To me, this is shortsighted,” said MacDonald. “This doesn’t give a fig about 20 years from now.”

MacDonald added there is no money devoted towards the landfill for its eventual replacement and all the attention is on the debt.

“I think we are realistic,” she said of the county’s approach. “I think it’s common sense. We’re thinking down the road.”

Kingsville Deputy Mayor Gord Queen also blasted the city’s stance and that a near-10 per cent increase would “not be acceptable, period.” Lakeshore Deputy Mayor Al Fazio said recommendations dropped from 5.6 per cent to 4.11 per cent before it was approved by the city at zero per cent.

“The bottom line is it’s a sham,” said Fazio.

Fazio agreed that “you pay now or you pay later,” noting that “there’s not one person that wants to pay taxes.” He also asked whether the issue of 2018 was even on the agenda.

By turning it town, an ad hoc committee featuring administration from both Essex County and Windsor will help set a new budget for both councils to consider.