Tom Bain

Bain cites teamwork and collaboration as successes for county in final warden’s luncheon

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Essex County Warden Tom Bain championed teamwork, collaboration and the region’s successes during his annual “Warden’s Luncheon” address.

The 11th annual “Warden’s Luncheon” was held last Friday afternoon at the Ciociaro Club with Bain noting there is “a new sense of vitality” in Essex County. Bain said that the area is known for its creativity, innovation, ingenuity and perseverance, and that shows in the unemployment figures. The unemployment rate in the area was 9.4 per cent in early 2015 and said it is now at 4.9 per cent, “one of the lowest in the province.”

The warden pointed out his belief that municipalities don’t create jobs but can create the conditions where economic improvement is possible.

One of the issues Bain addressed was the expansion of energy capacity in the region and “thankfully, this is finally getting addressed.” One issue that is not getting addressed is the expansion of Highway 3 from Essex to Leamington. Bain stated that it is a vital gateway for the shipment of agricultural products and called the widening of the highway “a priority for county council.”

There are also safety concerns with Highway 3 as Bain referenced the volume of traffic that uses that roadway.

“This leads to a number of accidents and, sadly, fatalities,” said Bain.

The county is in solid financial shape, he continued, noting Standard and Poor’s has given the county a AA+ credit rating, the highest possible for a municipality in Ontario.

Warden Tom Bain gestures during his address at the Windsor-Essex Chamber of Commerce’s “Warden’s Luncheon” last Friday. It was Bain’s final luncheon as Essex County warden.

“This long-term financial vision is credited to county council and administration,” said Bain.

Essex County has also been able to control tax increases, he added.

“Over the past 15 years, the CPI (Consumer Price Index) has increased on average 1.8 per cent per year,” said Bain. “Over the same period of time, our county tax rate has increased on average 1.3 per cent per year.”

Those increases come despite $440 million in roadway expansion, $171 million in new trail projects and $100 million committed for the county’s share of the new mega-hospital. The hospital, he added, went through a “fair and thorough” site selection process.

The mega-hospital was one of the examples listed by Bain of Essex County’s willingness to collaborate. He said the SWIFT project, which aims to bring fibre optic high-speed internet to the region, is another example while also noting environmental gains by working with ERCA and economic gains by working with the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Commission (WEEDC).

Essex County is also bidding to jointly host Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conferences with Windsor up to four times between 2021-24, something Bain said could bring 2,600 and $3 million in spinoff revenue to the region.

Municipalities can’t ignore change and have to work together, he believed, but can control how they react to change.

“In today’s day and age, the way we have been doing business is no longer feasible or reasonable,” he said, touting the benefits of teamwork and collaboration between municipalities.

Bain said he is proud of the work that has been done around the county council table and of the work still to come.

“We have such a good team here,” he said. “The team has worked together on so many things. The results are there and I’m so proud of that and proud of our team.”

In this municipal election year, he advised candidates to avoid the trappings of short-term gains and look long-term.

Bain indicated that while he is not running for another term as warden, he is looking at running for re-election as mayor in Lakeshore. He is the longest serving warden in Ontario, having been in the position since 2010. He was also warden in 1993. Bain has been a municipal politician since 1978, when he was first elected as a councillor in the former Rochester Township.

The luncheon was presented by the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce with Libro Credit Union being the main sponsor.

County council releases statement of councillor remuneration

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Essex County council has released its statement of council remuneration for 2017.

There was no surprise as to who was on top, with Warden Tom Bain earning a salary of $66,228.72 and a total remuneration of $92,942.09. The total remuneration factors in indemnities, mileage, conference and meeting expenditures. Bain is also the mayor of Lakeshore.

The remaining members of county council earned salaries of $9,173.76 with the exception of LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya who, as deputy warden, had a salary of $11,167.23.

Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo saw his remuneration total be $14,172.27 while Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale’s total ended up at $14,946.39.

Essex Mayor Ron McDermott’s 2017 remuneration total was $14,548.90 while Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche had a total remuneration amount of $16,386.02.

The total remuneration for Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos in 2017 was $17,425.16. Deputy Mayor Gord Queen’s total remuneration was $15,407.44.

Lakeshore Deputy Mayor Al Fazio’s total remuneration for 2017 was $13,282.29.

In addition to his deputy warden’s salary, Antaya’s total remuneration was $17,053.11. LaSalle Deputy Mayor Marc Bondy had a total remuneration of $13,837.70.

Leamington Mayor John Paterson had the lowest total remuneration total for 2017, with his total being $12,997.58. Deputy Mayor Hilda MacDonald’s total remuneration for 2017 was $13,599.39.

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara’s total remuneration amounted to $20,507.26 while Deputy Mayor Joe Bachetti came in at $14,118.54.

In all, county council members’ total salaries amounted to $187,481.07 for 2017 with a total remuneration amounting to $291.224.14.

Committee members had a total remuneration total of $18,067.37 during the 2017 calendar year.

Essex County council ratifies EWSWA budgets

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The 2017 and 2018 budgets for the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority (EWSWA) are one step closer to being finally completed.

Essex County council has given its approval to the two years worth of budgets, with the 2017 budget calling for a zero per cent increase and the 2018 budget calling for a two per cent increase. EWSWA general manager Eli Maodus pointed out that the process calls for approvals from both county council and Windsor city council.

In his report, Maodus noted that a $447,480 contribution from the authority’s rate stabilization reserve was required to balance the 2018 budget. He stated that “this reserve is used to smooth out any large increases to the total waste management fee.”

The rate stabilization reserve is projected to be $16.6 million at the end of 2018.

County CAO Rob Maisonville said a ten-year plan is being created knowing that reserve is in play. The new plan, he noted, would use reserves but “find a balance” in order to maintain them as much as possible.

“Those reserves aren’t going to last,” cautioned Warden Tom Bain, who had multiple meetings with Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkins, Maisonville and city CAO Onorio Colucci.

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara said the $16 million reserve may look like a lot, but there is debt and a reduction in tonnage that has to be considered as well. He said there has to be a grasp on what costs will be in the future.

“That $16 million will disappear in a hurry,” he said.

The landfill debt is reportedly $65 million.

Essex Mayor Ron McDermott questioned procedure, stating that the budget problems were started when two years worth of budgets tried to be passed at once. McDermott was concerned that county council was doing the same thing last Wednesday, but each budget was eventually passed.

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.