Leo Meloche

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.

Town council to enter into agreement with humane society for dog control services

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town of Amherstburg will have a new provider of dog control services and it is a bit more expensive than at least one council member would prefer.

Town council has authorized administration to enter into a one-year agreement with the Windsor-Essex County Humane Society to provide dog control officer services and pound facility with the cost of that being $40,000. The human society does not charge HST as it is a registered charity.

According to a report from manager of licensing and enforcement Nicole Rubli, the town currently contracts out dog control services to 21st Century K9 Inc. to retrieve dogs at a yearly cost of $24,000 plus HST.

Services that have been included but were not limited to were responding to dog at large related calls 24 hours a day, every day, including statutory holidays; providing dog control services as requested by the town or the Amherstburg Police Service; attending court appearances if required; maintaining records of all dog control occurrences, dogs picked up and their deposition and all other actions taken in provision of dog control services; provide a live telephone answering service where a message can be left 24 hours a day, every day, including statutory holidays; providing a properly equipped, licensed and inspected vehicle to safely and humanely transport dogs. Such vehicle is to be suitably maintained to professionally represent the town; and providing and maintain all equipment necessary to humanely catch, handle and transport dogs.

Rubli told council in her report that the owner of 21st Century K9 Inc. decided to end the agreement and put the town on notice. Administration then issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a dog control officer and pound facility with the town receiving one bid.

Administration also developed various options for council’s consideration with those being discussed at an Oct. 23 in-camera meeting, Rubli noted. After reviewing “a number of options,” Rubli’s repot said administration recommends the one-year agreement with the humane society.

Councillor Leo Meloche didn’t disagree there was a need for the service, but voiced concern with the $40,000 annual cost. He said roughly 40 calls per year are responded to.

“If the average stays the same, we are spending $1,000 per animal,” said Meloche. “As a taxpayer, I find that number a little hard to swallow.”

CAO John Miceli said the humane society is the best option. He said other options were evaluated but the town needs the dog pound facility and believed the recommendation was the best one for the municipality.

Meloche remained skeptical, stating “we need to do a better job reducing costs.”

Councillor Diane Pouget asked if there was any way to mitigate costs, with Rubli stating the town has had an “aggressive” dog tag campaign that has been successful in obtaining revenue and other data for the town.

Rumble strips headed to Alma St./Howard Ave. intersection

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Both sides of Alma St. will feature rumble strips at the Howard Ave. intersection with the aim of improving safety in the area.

Councillor Leo Meloche brought the issue forward at the last town council meeting after having it addressed the intersection’s safety previously. Statistics were available at the most recent meeting from the Amherstburg Police Service.

“We average about an accident a year, sometimes none,” said Chief Tim Berthiaume. “I am working with Mr. (Mark) Galvin on improving safety in the area.”

Berthiaume suggested one measure could be flashing lights on the stop signs.

Mark Galvin is the town’s manager of planning, development and legislative services.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said statistics show that, between 2008-17, either there were no collisions at the Howard Ave./Alma St. intersection or there were none. The exception was 2015, when there were four collisions. Some of the accidents are rear-end collisions, he added.

“The data says it is not an excessive accident area,” said DiCarlo.

Galvin said they have to “peel the onion” and examine all factors in the accidents as well as determining whether there is commonality among the accidents. The solutions the town come up with should include measures that address the accidents that are actually happening.

The town resolved to ensure rumble strips are carved into the roadways on both sides of Alma St. to ensure drivers know they are approaching the intersection.

An two-vehicle accident in late-September at that rural intersection claimed the life of a 58-year-old Harrow woman.

Town council debates re-opening yard waste depot temporarily

 

 

By RTT Staff

 

The leaves are falling from the trees and that has meant the return of the debate on whether or not to re-open the yard waste depot on Thomas Road.

The yard waste depot was closed in 2014 as a “budgetary matter,” said director of public works and engineering Antonietta Giofu, but Councillor Rick Fryer wondered if it could be re-opened at least temporarily to allow residents to drop off leaves and other yard waste. Fryer said there are some people with a lot of leaves on their yards and there aren’t enough collection dates to accommodate those people.

People with large yards and a lot of trees have to store their leaves until the next collection day, Fryer added.

“I’m always getting calls about this,” he said.

Giofu said that the public works department gets called regularly about the matter, but point people to the three other public drop-off points in the region. Those include the Windsor Garbage and Recylcing Depot at 3560 North Service Road, the Kingsville Garbage and Recycling Depot at 2021 Albuna Townline (County Road 31) and the Regional Recycling Depot, located at the Regional Landfill at 7700 County Road 18 in Essex.

When the depot was closed, it carried an annual operating cost of $131,000 and she added that it was “very rare to have two options for the residents.” It was re-opened after big storms to accommodate storm damage.

Councillor Diane Pouget suggested having the matter looked at budget time. Councillor Leo Meloche leaned towards a possible re-opening of the landfill for seasonal purposes, stating there are limitations on burning and that people want to keep their yards clean and not have leaves blow onto their neighbours’ yards.

Councillor Jason Lavigne said he was in favour of calling Windsor Disposal Services (WDS) if another collection date was needed rather than having to pay an employee to staff the yard waste depot.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale, who chaired the meeting in the absence of Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, believed if the Thomas Road depot were to be re-opened, the town should proceed with caution.

“We have opened the depot a few times on an emergency basis,” said DiPasquale. “We were getting a lot of misuse.”

Administration told council they always have the option of whether or not to re-open the depot and decide how long it will be open.

Dentists seek closer look at parking limits in downtown lot

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Local dentists Chad Denomme and Stefano Storey are hoping the town can take a closer look at time limits for parking near their recently-purchased building.

The owners of Storey and Denomme Family Dentistry recently bought the building at 79 Richmond St. and are currently renovating it so it becomes their new home. They had originally requested that a few spots in the adjacent public parking lot at the corner of Richmond St. and Ramsay St. be dedicated for their business, but modified their request and instead wanted council to take a closer look at time limits in that lot.

“As soon as we discussed (having dedicated spots) as a team, we thought that may open up a can of worms for other businesses,” said Denomme.

However, they have noted that many vehicles park there all day and suggested that putting time limits on spaces could produce a better flow of vehicles in the lot and increase availability of the spots.

“It’s the same cars there for eight or nine hours a day,” said Denomme.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin suggested that spots in that lot could be designated for two-hour limits but “the question is the mix.” He said they could look at best practices and come up with something with regards to what percentage of spots could be on a time limit.

Councillor Jason Lavigne opposed any idea of another parking study but did say the municipal lot across the road in back of the Heritage Plaza building is “empty all day.” Amherstburg is a tourist destination, Lavigne continued, and that “if we switch lots to two-hour parking, it’s going to create issues across the board.”

Dentists Stefano Storey and Chad Denomme are asking the town to take a closer look at some time limits for some of the spots in the lot at Richmond St. and Ramsay St.

Lavigne said there has been debate with the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce on the matter over the years but believed there are enough spots downtown.

“There is a ton of parking down there,” said Lavigne. “Some is a stone’s throw from businesses.”

One of the issues with the parking lot at Richmond St. and Ramsay St. is nearby residents, such as those in the Navy Yard condominium building, parking there.

Councillor Rick Fryer also pointed out the parking behind the Heritage Place and that people can “park here and walk a little bit.” He said something has to be done to alleviate parking concerns, and wondered if a “pay for parking” scenario would work though admitted people would be “up in arms” at first. He believed such a plan could force residents who use public lots while at home to move their vehicles out of the lot.

“There’s got to be something done,” said Fryer.

Councillor Leo Meloche stated that short-term parking has to be closer to businesses and that those who park downtown for eight hours or so should be “pushed out to the outlying areas.” That said, he maintained his belief that “Amherstburg doesn’t have a parking problem.”

Lavigne cautioned that if parking limits are placed in the Richmond St./Ramsay St. lot, there could be more funding requested by the bylaw enforcement department. He also pointed out the traffic committee could have looked at the matter but it was dissolved several months ago.

Councillor Rick Fryer’s motion to deny dedicated spots, allow administration to enter into an encroaching agreement for a sign over the sidewalk and to have administration come back with suggestions for the Richmond St./Ramsay St. parking lot was approved.

“We’re going to have to do something to help the businesses,” said Fryer. “We can’t have spots tied up by those in the apartments next door.”