Town council

Town council to move forward with audit advisory committee

 

By Ron Giofu

Town council will be moving forward with the establishment of an audit advisory committee despite a request to do without it.

Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche suggested that the town not set up such a committee and re-evaluate its needs in the future. Meloche expressed confidence in treasurer Justin Rousseau and noted there are multiple chartered accountants on staff.

“We have qualified people,” said Meloche. “We’ve cleaned up our act.”

Meloche said he didn’t speak out on the matter at the previous council meeting, when the matter was originally discussed, as he was chairing the meeting. He recalled the last time the town had such a committee and noted there was a meeting where only he and Rousseau showed up.

Councillor Michael Prue disagreed, noting that audit advisory committees are common throughout Ontario and recalled one in Toronto when he served there.

“What is wrong with another set of eyes?” asked Prue.

Councillor Peter Courtney said he wasn’t questioning the integrity of administration but agreed with Prue that “another set of eyes, ears and brains” would be useful.

“It’s more knowledge and knowledge is bliss,” said Courtney.

In a recorded vote, Meloche was the only one in favour of moving ahead without an audit advisory committee and re-evaluating in the future while Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Prue, Courtney and councillors Marc Renaud, Donald McArthur and Patricia Simone were opposed to the motion.

Town talks about, but doesn’t reconsider development charges motion

 

By Ron Giofu

Town council talked about reconsidering a motion regarding development charges but in the end they stuck with the original motion.

A motion passed Dec. 15 regarding development charges deferral agreements called for the town to continue to offer deferrals and that administration be authorized to proceed with the use of letters of direction for the collection of the charges and that, based on an amendment suggested by Councillor Michael Prue, that administration be authorized to implementation an administrative fee of $275 per unit for each four month period until a unit is completed and sold. Prue stated in December that he believed that will “safeguard the taxpayers,” as Prue didn’t agree with the program overall from a residential perspective but did so from a commercial perspective.

Councillor Donald McArthur admitted he was nervous at the first meeting and asked at the Jan. 14 meeting if they could reconsider the motion so that additional questions could be asked. Prue said the public seems happy to have additional money in their pockets and believed that developers, whom he said are “very rich people,” have to pay the cost of doing business in a municipality and that includes paying fees.

“I thought it was a happy compromise,” added Councillor Peter Courtney, of the Dec. 15 motion.

Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche said administration came up with an agreement in partnership with developers and builders after the previous council requested that a meeting be arranged between the parties “yet this council decided to amend that.”

Meloche stated “it is incumbent upon us to have reasonable growth in our community” and he believed that can be accomplished with development charge deferral bylaw. The deputy mayor added that the Libro Centre is built to accommodate a population of 40,000 residents while the Amherstburg Wastewater Treatment Plant is built to accommodate 50,000 people.

“Our job is to make the town grow,” said Meloche.

Prue countered by stating that council passed an interim tax levy bylaw earlier in the meeting that penalized people for late payment on taxes.

“Why do developers get a special rate that our residents don’t get?” Prue asked. “How is that building a town?”

Meloche responded that the town should be providing incentives for developers to build in Amherstburg and said it is a “business approach” to defer development charges.

“I’m confident in the decision we made,” added Councillor Patricia Simone. “I don’t feel that we should be bringing it up again.”

Courtney, Prue, Simone and Councillor Marc Renaud voted against the motion to reconsider while Meloche, McArthur and Mayor Aldo DiCarlo were in favour.

New town council sworn in at inaugural meeting

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The new town council is officially on the job.

The Town of Amherstburg held its inaugural meeting for the new council with all seven members taking their oaths. Mayor Aldo DiCarlo was sworn in for his second term with Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche also being sworn in again, only this time in a new role as he was a councillor from 2014-18.

The five new councillors also were sworn into office with Peter Courtney, Donald McArthur, Michael Prue, Marc Renaud and Patricia Simone now officially elected officials in Amherstburg.

DiCarlo said “it’s a bit of a relief,” as “there’s a weird limbo from the day you find out you won to the day you are sworn in. Tonight is the night that makes it real for everyone.”

Calling it a “far cry from where we were four years ago,” DiCarlo said he likes who he will be working with.

“I’m very happy with the new council,” he said. “I’m very excited to be working with them. I think we’ve got a great new council. With the new council comes new ideas and perspectives. I think it’s going to work out really well for the town.”

The inaugural meeting for the 2018-22 town council was held Monday night at the Libro Centre. Front row (from left): Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche and Mayor Aldo DiCarlo. Back row (from left): Councillor Donald McArthur, Councillor Michael Prue, Councillor Patricia Simone, Councillor Peter Courtney and Councillor Marc Renaud.

There will still be tough decisions to make, DiCarlo pointed out, but “we’ll work through it.” Immediate goals will be to get some of the recently announced projects moving such as the hotels and the condominiums, something the mayor said is “very big news for Amherstburg.” He added that a business owner told him of the hotels that “you can’t build that thing fast enough.”

“I think we need to get some of the good news projects under our belt,” said DiCarlo.

There are also bylaws and procedures that still have to be updated with 2019 budget deliberations also looming in the new year.

Long term goals include upgrading roads and infrastructure, he said.

“Roads and infrastructure are going to continue to be a challenge for us,” DiCarlo stated. “I always hate passing the buck and I’m not going to in any respect, but I want residents to know that we are not alone with regards to infrastructure.”

DiCarlo said that many municipalities across the province are facing similar challenges and that with the current Progressive Conservative government, money may not be flowing as much as it once did to municipalities.

“We’re not sure how much government money is coming our way,” he stated.

Meloche said “it feels great” to be sworn in as the town’s new deputy mayor, noting that he likely wouldn’t have thought he would be in that spot four years ago.

“Hard work has got me here,” said Meloche. “I’m looking forward to working with the new council.”

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo (left) is presented his gavel by clerk Paula Parker as CAO John Miceli observes. The 2018-22 town council was sworn in Monday night.

The 2014-18 council “paved the way” for the 2018-22 council, he believed, and made a lot of progress in Amherstburg.

“I think the new council will continue the momentum, continue the progress and continue to show that Amherstburg is a good place to live, work, raise a family and visit,” he said.

Meloche is a new member to Essex County council and he said he has been through an orientation meeting there and has also had one-on-one meetings with the two candidates vying to be the next warden – Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos and Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara. He also met with county administration.

“There’s an education process with regards to roads and the direction the county is going the next four years,” said Meloche. “It’s an exciting time for me.”

Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche is sworn in Monday night by clerk Paula Parker. Meloche will also join Mayor Aldo DiCarlo on Essex County council.

Meloche also thanked his supporters.

“Thank you to all of the people who put their trust in me Oct. 22,” he said.

CAO John Miceli addressed the crowd at Monday night’s inaugural meeting at the Libro Centre, noting that the new council has taken on “a very, very large responsibility, a responsibility that can’t be taken lightly.”

Amherstburg is rich in history, culture and tradition, said Miceli, and it is not an easy task to be an elected official. He said administration will support the new council and called for the community to support them as well. Miceli noted that the council members are also members of families and that they all want to make the town a better place.

“You cannot make progress without making decisions,” he said.

Councillor Peter Courtney puts his arm around his mother Joan following Monday night’s inaugural meeting of town council. Peter was sworn in as a councillor just days after his mother’s term as a councillor ended. Joan was a member of town council from 2014-18.

Clerk Paula Parker, who officially swore in the new council members, said there will be difficult times and there will be criticism levied by members of the public, but she pointed out public service is also gratifying. She said some decision of council will not be popular, but there will be successes that will be rewarding.

“Leadership is not about the next election,” said Parker. “It is about the next generation.”

Council looks for festival bill during contentious final meeting

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

At the now-former council’s final meeting of the term Nov. 26, members pressed for information on the outstanding bill owing the Amherstburg Police Service for service at non-town festivals.

The festivals, which have been said to be the Harvest Festival and the Mardi Gras, were the subject of a Nov. 13 motion by then-Councillor Diane Pouget. Pouget questioned who is responsible, how much is owing and how the bill will be collected.

A report did not appear at the Nov. 26 meeting as administration cited a “procedural matter” as a previous motion regarding the matter would have had to have been reconsidered. Then-Councillor Joan Courtney said “it would have been nice to hear the motion was not valid” prior to the Nov. 26 meeting.

According to Pouget, she said she conducted her own investigation and that the bill began at $20,000. It now is believed to be at $17,000. She said she has asked treasurer Justin Rousseau and “for two years it has been sitting on the treasurer’s desk.”

“It should be very simple,” Pouget said of her request. “Here we are again.”

CAO John Miceli responded that “the bill has not been sitting on the treasurer’s desk for two years” and contented the Amherstburg Police Services Board had it on their books for one year. Miceli said the town has no evidence of a signed contract with anyone and encouraged Pouget to bring it forward if she found one in her investigation.

“If you have a signed contract, please share it with us,” Miceli told Pouget.

“It’s true the bill came before the Amherstburg Police Services Board,” said then-Councillor Jason Lavigne, who was also a member of the board. “They refused to pay it. To suggest we don’t know who owes the money or how we are going to get it is ridiculous.”

Lavigne added “this is no fault of the Amherstburg Police Services Board.” He further charged that Miceli asked the board not to collect that money.

“Councillor Lavigne, that is not the truth,” Miceli responded, stating again the board had it on its books for one year. Rousseau added that while he and Miceli attended an APSB meeting, he noted that collection of town receivables should flow through the finance department.

Leo Meloche, then a councillor and now the deputy mayor, noted the APSB runs autonomously from council. He also questioned where a contract was.

“Do we have a signed contract?” he asked. “That is part of the process we have to follow.”

Hall of Fame coach honoured by town council

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A local high school coach as picked up another honour.

Dom Silvaggio, a recent inductee into the Windsor-Essex County Sports Hall of Fame, was honoured for that accomplishment by the Town of Amherstburg. Silvaggio was joined by several members of his family as town council paid tribute to him at the Nov. 26 council meeting.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo was not at the meeting due to illness, but clerk Paula Parker read a statement from him that praised Silvaggio for his many accomplishments over the years.

Dom Silvaggio (third from left) was honoured by Amherstburg town council Nov. 26 on the occasion of his getting inducted into the Windsor-Essex Sports Hall of Fame. He was surrounded by members of the 2018 General Amherst Lady Gens senior girls basketball team. Making the presentation was then-Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale (right).

Among the accomplishments on Silvaggio’s resume include 26 WECSSAA/ECSSAA championships between boys and girls basketball teams. He has coached 13 SWOSSAA championship teams and the senior girls program he has overseen won ten consecutive medals at OFSAA at either the “AA” or “AAA” level, including five gold medals, three silver medals and two bronze medals at the provincial championship tournament.

“Thank you for being a great ambassador,” Paula read on DiCarlo’s behalf.

Members of the 2018 General Amherst Lady Gens came into the council chambers as a show of support for their coach. Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale presented the General Amherst High School coach with a framed certificate on behalf of the town.

Silvaggio said it felt really special to be recognized by the town.

“This is my hometown,” he said.

Silvaggio said he was humbled by the honour and that the ceremony where he was inducted was “a great night.”