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Public input on budget welcome at Feb. 22 special council meeting

Readers are invited to make comment on council issues, or email a more detailed letter to the editor to news@countylive.ca Writers must use their full name and a valid email address.

Full council and committee agendas and minutes with links to documents here:
http://princeedward.fileprosite.com/Documents/DocumentList.aspx?ID=7431

Feb. 22
Committee of Adjustment 6:30PM Council Chambers
Planning Public Council 7:00PM Council Chambers
Special Council(Budget) 9:30AM Council Chambers

Feb. 23
Traffic Committee 2:30PM Edward Building Conference Room
Special Council Budget (continued) 9:30am Council Chambers

Feb. 24
Library Board Meeting 2:00 p.m. Picton Library

Feb. 27
Affordable Housing Group 9:30-11:30 a.m. Committee Room

Feb. 28
Council Meeting 7:00PM Council Chambers

Feb. 29
Police Services Board 1PM Committee Room

Prince Edward County Council will hear proposals from external agencies and community groups seeking funding during its special council meeting Wednesday, Feb. 22, beginning at 9:30 a.m. in Shire Hall.
Presentations are expected to run to about 3 p.m. when public input into the 2012 budget will be received from the audience.
On the agenda are speakers from Social Services; Police Services Board; Emergency Medical Services; Festival Players; Quinte Conservation; Quinte Waste Solutions; PEC Library Board; Picton BIA; PEC Chamber of Tourism and Commerce; Taste the County; Prince Edward Fitness and Aquatic Centre; Glenwood Cemetery; Regent Theatre Foundation;  Arts Council; The County Community Foundation; Prince Edward Community Theatre and the Relay for Life Campaign.
A report from the Recreation, Parks and Culture Commission regarding the $17,300 community grant program will also be received.

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  1. Marnie says:

    The signs prohibiting bicycles and skateboards on the sidewalk are a joke. This bylaw is not enforced, Kem. Those signs on Main Street just pay lip service to the law.

    As for county vehicles, the current fleet may include some rust buckets, but there are also a lot of newer models, most of them 4 x 4’s and many special purpose vehicles that the county has acquired in recent years. Their sheer numbers are mind-boggling, not to mention what the insurance premiums must be.

  2. Ken Globe says:

    Here you go Doris, regarding the “state of the art vehicles” that we have. I don’t see anything in this .pdf that seems too ridiculous. https://princeedwardcounty.civicweb.net/FileStorage/02717FDE51B64253B3898E89A8B05715-WorkspaceFleet%20Management%20Policy%20Report.pdf

    And judging from what I’ve seen for county vehicles in the past couple of days, most of the green trucks seem to be only a few years away from having to be replaced.

  3. Beth says:

    Your other option is to park your car on the same side as Shire Hall. Everyone drives there anyway!

  4. Mark says:

    Beth and I have agreed! LOL. Two different sides can find mutual ground.

  5. Beth says:

    Very carefully , by looking both ways before crossing the road, waiting for the traffic to be clear and still taking your life in someone else’s hands.

  6. Mark says:

    Well really Picton does require traffic lights in several locations. Obviously we cannot afford them right now. I have never seen another Tim Hortons with their very own taffic light.

    In all seriousness however, how does a person on the north or west side of Main St. cross to the east or south side between the Community Centre and the Regant Theatre without jay walking? How are walking people supposed to get to our municipal building? Hmmm.

  7. Chris Keen says:

    Just don’t suggest installing another traffic light. The one that was installed at Tim Horton’s cost us $500,000!! 🙂

  8. Mark says:

    This is kinda getting away from the big $$$$ topic but how does a person get across the street fron the Community Centre to the Regent Theatre without jaywalking?
    How does one get to Shire Hall?

  9. Marnie says:

    I am aware that jaywalking is not legal but it is not legal to ride a bike or skateboard on the sidewalks, either, and parents do not seem to be teaching their children about this. It’s time they did.

    There may be jaywalkers here but there are also a lot of drivers who like to speed, even on Main Street. There are also plenty of “legal” users of the crosswalk at the Regent who sprint off the curb without pushing the button first. I’ve braked for a few of them.

    Somehow, even before crosswalks, we managed to get across the street safely. Common courtesy and common sense did the trick. People who are older or handicapped may not find it easy to hike from a parking space in front of the bookstore all the way up to the crosswalk, then back down to the bank to cash a cheque at the CIBC, especially in winter. It’s not always easy to park close to the store or business where you want to shop, especially in summer with all the tourist traffic.

  10. Beth says:

    By the way Marnie, just because people Jay-walk, doesn’t make it legal. We teach the children to cross at the cross walk and wait for it to be safe to stop, however I guess that doesn’t apply when you are an adult. I have seen to many motorist have to jump on the brakes because some idiot decided to walk out in front of the cars or sometimes a dump truck.

  11. Marnie says:

    It still doesn’t wash, Beth. A contract worker could be hired for animal control and some other jobs for less money that the county pays its fulltime people. We did not have all of these expenses when there was outsourcing in the past. The people who once had contracts for animal control here also did other work. If they had been earning what the present fulltime people make, they would not have needed these other sources of revenue. Those old timers did not have benefit packages and they probably did not get time and a half if they worked on a Saturday or Sunday.

    Ever wonder why the county squanders our money on full page ads in all the papers to remind us to buy dog tags? What a waste when smaller ads would do just as well.

  12. Ken Globe says:

    Last time I checked Marnie, it is called a sideWALK, and the OPP, or bylaw staff can fine skateboarders or cyclists for travelling on them. That is why it is posted “no skateboards, cycling, in-line skating” all over the downtown core. And I think you would have a better chance at surviving a collision with a bicycle, or skateboarder than you would at the front end of an Oldsmobile, or even better a Peterbilt. I’ve seen pedestrians not even wait for a wave or the vehicle to slow down, they just start across wherever and figure drivers can see them and will stop. But when that sun is right in your field of vision at three in the afternoon as you head upstreet, you’re lucky to see the stoplights at the Tim Hortons or at Talbot. Much less some entitled local pedestrian who is dashing across the street to get to the CIBC, or Town & Country video.

  13. Beth says:

    You are right Doris you don’t have to pay them all those things, you just have to provide adequate compensation for not having benefits, supplying and maintaining their own vehicle, gas and insurance while on County business. They also get compensation for not having the benefit package.

    State of the Art Trucks???? Have you looked at some of these things lately?

  14. Marnie says:

    Outsourcing animal control and similar services would eliminate the need to pay costly benefits, provide a vehicle and uniforms etc. Hard to imagine what a dog catcher would do for eight hours every day. Seems as if this service could be provided on an as needed basis.

    As for the “mouth breathers”, Ken, that is just how a lot of county people cross Main Street. They always have they always will and most motorists know this and just wave them over. It’s jaywalking, but it’s also life in a small town. The skateboarders and cyclists on the sidewalks pose a bigger threat to public safety than the so-called mouth-breathers.

  15. Doris Lane says:

    Ken if you outsource something you do not have to put them on the County payroll,thereby paying them benefits,supplying a vehicle,buying gas,putting insurance on vehicle and providing a pension plan with benefits.
    AS I am sure you are aware we have too many state of the art trucks running around–insurance upkeep gas etc.
    You have heard the County joke—what’s green and sleeps three???
    I don’t think the new CAO is making a problem where none exsisted, we have been in financial trouble for quite some time but no one wanted. to talk about it–if you don’t admit to something, it will go away–sure
    We are deeply in debt and have no reserve fund Given the state of the province and of the country we cannot afford to keep doing things the way we are.

  16. Brian Conway says:

    The degree of comment on the budgeting debate shows this: our new CAO has created a crisis here. Just as the Fire Safety officer created a costly crisis two years ago. And as the unlamented Mike Harris & John Strobelen did in our education system 13 years ago.
    Created crises produce do little to benefit a community; usually they are intended to serve the interests of those who create them. Today County citizens look at all the building which has taken place and the retirees who have arrived and ask: “Why, if we have all these new sources of taxes, do we find ourselves in the mess the CAO says we are in?” So anxiety and division are produced, and our community is not improved.
    I ask the CAO: 1)Why are you creating a crisis? What are you after? Reduced citizen input? More decision making powerfor staff (and that will mean more staff)?
    2)If a good administrator is one who achieves orderly and effective progress, why have you chosen to be a crisis-creator?
    And I advise the CAO: This community is not the same as Terrace Bay. We have many retirees here, people who have had power, are used to providing input, and find crises wearing. Please get to know your community so that you can build on its strengths, not work on its weaknesses.

  17. Ken Globe says:

    What would be the savings of outsourcing the animal control? You’re paying either way. And as for doing away with the parking meters and that staff, as much as I’m not a fan of meters, they are necessary. Otherwise, you would have owners and employees parked out in front of their businesses, further dwindling what parking there is especially in summer months. You want to put some money in County coffers, have our OPP regularly patrol our downtown and hand out jaywalking tickets to the mouth breathers who like to dart out across the road wherever they feel like. And also have the OPP hang around some of the local parking lots and give out fines for the people who park in the fire lanes, or in a disabled spot without being disabled. From what I’ve seen and experienced in the 13 years I’ve been here, this would probably wipe out our budgetary concerns by fall.

  18. Beth says:

    The Salaries of the Building Inspectors are paid out of the Building permit fees and the revenue cannot be used in other areas of the municipalities, Province of Ontario Legislation. So unless you are doing construction which requires a Building permit (which everything over approx 108sf requires), the tax payer is not contributing to those salaries.

    Building Permit revenues have declined because of the economy and I always got the impression from this forum that many people who comment did not want any more development in Prince Edward County.

  19. Doris Lane says:

    Myrna ,Marnie and Gary have made some good common sense statements. The one in particular about the retroactive pay is really important–this at a time when people should be getting wage cuts and freezes.
    Two by-law officers we do not need are parking and animal control–animal control can be out-sourced and we should do away with parking meters in Picton–you want it o be a tourist town–make it a little more welcoming to tourists Yes and I heard we bought a uniform for the secretary at the fire station==REALLY
    The salary of the building inspector people is paid out of the permits???–well we do not charge Sandbanks homes for permits because we have cancelled the cost of those until the board walk he is going to build on his property,so he can have access to his finger docks and we are allowed public access to, is all paid for. As for building permits in the county the number of buildings being put up has declined because the county chaeges too much for all kinds of permits etc, People are going to neighbouring communities to build.
    Maybe it is ime that Myrna,Marnie,Gary and Norman and I meet at Miss Lilly’s for coffee say at 11 on Thursday and of course anyone else that would care to.
    Doris

  20. Gary Mooney says:

    Myrna, you’re right. We need to see an inventory of all properties, plus a rationale for why we are holding them. However, we shouldn’t decide to sell off anything right now, until there has been a proper analysis of the pros and cons in each case.

    Marnie, you make a good point. In the for-profit business world, many companies converted expensive defined benefit pension plans into defined contribution plans and then converted employee positions into contract positions (no benefits) and then outsourced jobs to India, all to save money. I’m not saying that any of this was good, but it’s what these enterprises decided had to be done to remain competitive. We need to decide if we can afford to have all municipal services(except waste collection) provided by full-time employees,with full benefits including an extrremaely generous defined benefit pension plan and full cost of living increases each year and retroactive adjustments to bring salaries up to an artificially-high municipal jobs market and ..

  21. Marnie says:

    Remember the good old days when animal control was a contract position with one man (first Randy Yarrow and later, Joe Bergeron) doing the work? Full-time staff was not required then. A lot of part-time jobs have been parlayed into full-time positions, complete with vehicles and uniforms. Nice if you can afford it, but expendable given the present state of county finances. The taxpayers footing the bill for all of these frills
    are working hard, too, Beth, many of them not for the high wages paid by the county.

  22. Myrna Wood says:

    “By putting everything on the table, he is forcing all of us to consider what is important and what is not. This is a very healthy exercise.”
    We have yet to see everything on the table. Where is the list of properties that could be sold and their value that we were promised?
    So far we have been told we need to sell off libraries, museums and halls – places of value to the public.
    What are all the other properties? Why can’t we see the list? Perhaps they are of value to Planners and Public Works for assumed future projects, and therefore not to be assessed by the public?
    Who is limiting the discussion?
    I am waiting for our councillors to make public all the information,since staff has not.

  23. Beth says:

    Just so you know Doris, the “multiple” by-law officers you are likely referring to are this:
    2 staff members who are by-law enforcement and canine control officers. 2 people 2 jobs. These two ladies work very hard.
    The other 4 that you are likely referring too, are the Building Inspectors / By-law control officers, which by Ontario law are NOT paid out of tax dollars but out of the fees collected by the building permit fees. In fact the building department of any municipality is mandated by the province to be self – sustaining.

  24. Mark says:

    That is assuming we have really good people at the top. Good people demonstrate leadership. The top guns have had ample time to lead.The County has lost many good and experienced employees who have chosen to leave the longstanding negative culture within Shire Hall. Until that culture changes and it has to begin at the top we will be one step forward and one step back.

  25. Gary Mooney says:

    Doris, Three of four Commissioners are recent hires, plus the Treasurer plus the CAO. The mess we’re in goes back way before their time.

    Re CAO Merlin Dewing, he started only four months ago — let’s give hime some time to demonstrate what he snf his team can do.

    And what he’s been doing is exactly what the County needs right now: challenging the status quo. He is the perfect person to do this, as he has no prior connections to the County and doesn’t have to defend past actions of staff or Council.

    By putting everything on the table, he is forcing all of us to consider what is important and what is not. This is a very healthy exercise.

    If we decide that we want everything that we have now — fine. We’ll have to figure out how to do the same with less, or do the same with higher taxes. But we we’ll be doing so after thinking things through.

  26. Doris Lane says:

    Problem is Gary that most of the senior staff have been there for quite awhile except the CAO and the jury is still out on him and some of them have created the mess we are in.
    At one time we had volunteers doing the jobs that some of the commissoners are now doing and they had a heartfelt interest in the County
    It was suggested by someone that we get professional arena companies to manage Wellington–it is too extensive an operation for someone on our staff to undertake. It is a state of the art operation like we would find in a large city

  27. Gary Mooney says:

    Hold on, folks. The problem is not the salaries of the senior staff. I think that we’re better off with really good people at the top (which requires paying market salaries) who have the ablilities required to manage us out of the mess that we’re in.

    Our problems are more likely due to a combination of:
    * Too few taxpayers for our geopgraphic size;
    * Lack of an industrial tax base;
    * Too many employees;
    * Insufficient productivity from current employees;
    * Too many capital assets;
    * Inability to negotiate cost of some services (e.g. OPP);
    * Past mistakes on major public works projects;
    * Lack of creativity / innovation;
    * Failure to take advantage of local volunteer resources;
    * Failure to build up reserve funds.

  28. Chris Keen says:

    http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/publications/salarydisclosure/2011

    The following is from Ontario’s “Sunshine List” (released in 2011) of public service employees earning more than $100,000 salary in 2010. The second dollar figure is “benefits”.

    County of Prince Edward:

    PIPER ELIZABETH Administrator – H. J. McFarland $100,504.96 $825.39
    SHANNON RICHARD Chief Administrative Officer $138,829.44 $890.52
    TURNBULL M. SUSAN Commissioner of Corporate Services & Finance $114,816.81 $786.93
    MURPHY GERALD Commissioner of Planning & Building Services $109,909.02 $764.97
    MCAULEY ROBERT Commissioner of Public Works $121,974.75 $613.01
    BRAUN BARRY Commissioner of Recreation, Parks & Culture $103,865.04 $705.30
    Edward MANLOW SCOTT Fire Chief $101,569.41 $654.99
    ANGELO JOSEPH Project Engineer $137,667.16 $0.00

    On the educational side, for Hastings and Prince Edward, there were 80+ individuals in 2010 earning more than $100,000 per year. Salaries ranged from just over $100,000 for Elementary Vice-Principals to over $150,000 per year for Superintendents.

    For comparison’s sake, in 2010, the CAO in Brighton, Gayle Frost, (formerly of OEC) earned $112,874 with $663 in benefits.

    For the curious,there is an Excel spreadsheet of all the “Sunshine List” data that can be downloaded from the website http://www.jackandcokewithalime.blogspot.com

  29. Doris Lane says:

    They are advertising for someone at present to talk to councillors and staff and be a liasion between them–that’s the mayors job.Is that person going to be a commisioner? Gee I worked for a number of years and had 2 degrees and did not get
    anywhere near that sakary. There are so many padded jobs in Shire Hall that you would not believe it, We had someone working for us once who phoned Belleville and asked to speak to one of their by-law officers and he was told they only had one. How many do we have???
    maybe a half dozen.Belleville has twice the tax base of the County.Since amalgamation things have been allowed to get out of hand. We have to reign in our spending and get things back to a manageable level. A municapality cannot declare bankruptcy so we have to begin someplace–maybe councillors should take a 25% pay cut instead of taking the pay hike they did–after all there is no qualification nessary to be a councillor, just that you are aliving breathing person who does not owe back taxes and afew other minor things
    We need to cut back on staff and get rid of some trucks and get rid of some of the buildings we do not need and forget about giving handouts to everyone who comes with their hand out.

  30. Brian Conway says:

    Wait a minute! Are we paying the new County CAO 140K+? Are the Commissioners getting more than 100K?
    If these numbers are accurate, I feel the salaries are excessive, because they do not reflect the reality of County incomes.What do these people do besides go to meetings, write slippery reports, and shift the blame for messups?
    If a County staff member newly hired at a salary in excess of 100K per year has the nerve to suggest that a solution to our money woes is to double the cost for garbage disposal by County residents on limited incomes, then that staff member should either go away voluntarily or be asked to do so.
    County staff salaries should have a ceiling of 20% above the median income in the community. To achieve this rationalizing of cost, I suggest an immediate 25% salary cut for County senior staff. If they stay, they care about the County. If they leave, they are hired guns we can do without.

  31. Doris Lane says:

    Mark is correct–we need to have an independent review of staff–you can not expect staff to review themselves
    And raising the cost of bag tags $1 is not going to solve our problems–We are in deep financial trouble and a concerted effort has to be made by council to try and get us out of it. We do not have to waste time and energy on a board walk that goes to no where. We need to concentrate on trying to fix the mess we are in

  32. Marnie says:

    Don’t move to Florida, Doris. We need your common sense approach here. The county can no longer afford to hand out large sums to every organization that comes with its hand out.

  33. Mark says:

    I would be willing to bet that a small comparable county in Florida is not paying a CAO 140K plus and have 4 Commissioners making 100k plus. And that is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to staffing costs. Some departments seem to be over staffed but are they? If an independent staffing review is not completed to look at essential staffing positions and where reductions and efficiencies could be made then council is just guessing that what is in place is required. It appears at least in media coverage that they are spending a lot of time with small ticket items. I believe this larger task needs to be undertaken before they comeback to the taxpayer one more time.

  34. Chris Keen says:

    I am sure that there are few County residents who are not prepared to pay their fair share for what makes this country a great place to live. No doubt this is equally true when it comes to County expenditures as well.

    But … there is a limit to what people living here can afford to pay. To suggest that people who would like to see spending restraint in certain areas of County government should move to Florida is ridiculous.

    Personally, we are not able to spend more than we can afford, so it is not unreasonable to expect our governments to do the same within reason.

  35. virginia says:

    If you don’t want to pay your fair share to support what makes this country the great place to live it is, may I suggest you move to Florida. That might be right wing conservative enough for you. Don’t forget to check out the cost of medical insurance.

  36. Doris Lane says:

    It seems that every time a new organization starts up thatthey want money from the County–if they want to run an organization it should be self supporting and if they cannot make enough money from the thr things they put on, then maybe we do not need that particular event
    It seems that every month we have to pay taxes-first property tax and then income tax and so on
    Council has to stop giving away our money for unessential thngs–we need our money for things that are necessary for us to live

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