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Full house welcomes new council to County horseshoe

council-passing-the-torch

Mayor Robert Quaiff was gowned and invested with the Chain of Office by past Mayor Peter Mertens.

council-new-horseshoeSitting around the horseshoe with the mayor are: Lenny Epstein and Treat Hull (Picton); Barry Turpin (Bloomfield); Jim Dunlop (Wellington); Janice Maynard, Dianne O’Brien, Roy Pennell (Ameliasburgh); Jamie Forrester (Athol); Gordon Fox and Brad Nieman (Hallowell); Steven Graham (Hillier); David Harrison (North Marysburgh) Steven Ferguson (South Marysburgh) and Kevin Gale and Bill Roberts (Sophiasburgh).

A standing-room only council chamber crowd welcomed the County’s new mayor and council at their inaugural meeting Tuesday night.

“The next time there is an election there may be less members of council and considering that, this may be the very last time this event takes place in this manner,” said County CAO Merlin Dewing noting the significance of the occasion before introducing the council members elect that include nine new faces.

Justice Ernie Parsons administered the Oath of Allegiance and Declaration of Office to the councillors and mayor.

“We are blessed in this country with a system of democracy that is the envy of the world and we are truly blessed with people as yourselves that are willing to come forward and serve the community in this manner. It is a huge undertaking.”

Mayor Robert Quaiff was gowned and invested with the Chain of Office by past Mayor Peter Mertens.

Mayor Robert Quaiff

Mayor Robert Quaiff

Quaiff acknowledged his wife of 38 years, Susan, members of his family and campaign staff. He thanked Mertens for his leadership as mayor for the past four years and wished him good health and a great retirement.

He promised his new council would “strive to deliver quality municipal services at a cost that is affordable to the taxpayer.

“As your mayor I will be working together with our very strong and very capable council to ensure that quality of living in the County is affordable. We can do this by building more financial sustainability in our budgets and by keeping future County tax increases within Canada’s general cost of living increases. Not an easy job.”

Quaiff promised to fight for healthcare and protect neighbourhoods from industrialization. He said he wanted to ensure affordable police services without sacrificing quality and encourage more affordable housing particularly for the young, and the elderly.

He confessed a life-long ambition to become mayor, one that was born through watching his father serve as North Marysburgh councillor in the 1960s.

He told spectators most of the County’s challenges were not of our own creation.

“They  were imposed on us by others and are now ours to deal with.   Amalgamation, for example, was not our choice. Now, 16 years later we’re still sorting out the ramifications of council size and structure. The transfer of provincial roads to our municipality was also not our choice… Amalgamating our hospital services is also on this list. This is the service that operated in the black previously and is now chronically in the red.  Funding a hospital is not normally a municipal budgetary item, however in the future, and in order to ensure our residents have reliable local hospital services, it may become necessary especially for our aging residents.”

Quaiff spoke of one-to-one meetings with each councillor and was “pleased to discover a strong measure of capability and cohesiveness of purpose. There is an encouraging consensus that we simply must reduce the size of council. I am beginning to think of these councillors here as the final 15.”

Their first priority will be to set the budget for the next year. Quaiff said it must “keep changes and taxes within the expected cost of living increases yet  includes an allocation for future maintenance of our 1,100 kilometres of roads as well as our aging infrastructure.

“When we consider that 92 per cent of our budget is funded from residential taxpayers – many of whom are on fixed incomes – budget setting becomes a very serious responsibility.”

Quaiff said his job as mayor was to encourage professionalism, cohesiveness among council and staff and he will stress transparency in communication with the public, youth and with key sectors of the economy and society.

Quinte West Mayor Jim Harrison and Belleville Mayor Taso Christopher brought greetings from their municipalities and promised to work together toward a better Quinte region.

council-end-of-meeting

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  1. Hildagard says:

    To Argyle–who was our previous council?? Was it not our new mayor???

  2. Argyle says:

    Susan, thats what worries me because Shire Hall doesn’t have the best track record over the last term. The faces around the horseshoe may be new but the managers providing the numbers are not.Lets just hope we don’t see more cuts in services along with a tax increase. We are already paying enough for previous bad decisions.

  3. Susan says:

    It’s an interesting process we have when you throw 9 new Councilors sworn in last night into week long budget deliberations next week. Nothing like making million dollar decisions before getting your feet wet. This is where you really have to rely upon competent staff.

  4. Argyle says:

    They certainly cannot fail as miserably as the previous council and mayor.Lets see if they live up to all their election promises. A good start would be reigning in our CAO and restoring a measure of accountability/transparency in the decision making process.

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