Mayor sets out priorities for new term

Duane Hicks

The 2011 budget, aging infrastructure, assisted living, the doctor shortage, and economic development are among the top priorities in the next four years, Mayor Roy Avis said during his inaugural address for the 2010-14 term Monday evening at the Civic Centre.
“Our first order of business will be dealing with the 2011 budget,” he noted. “With the will of council, we will continue to deliver services at our present level and maintain our infrastructure in an efficient and cost-effective manner.”
He added council always is at the forefront of residents’ thoughts when it comes to taxes.
“They feel we are the only ones with our hands in their pockets,” the mayor remarked. “The reality is, after the education tax is removed, council controls less than 50 percent of the municipal portion.
“As your mayor, this is a major issue and I would like to see it addressed,” he stressed. “Therefore, we will continue to petition senior levels of government for legislative change that would empower council to have more control.”
Mayor Avis warned many challenges will be front and centre during the next four years.
“As our population ages, we must work with our citizens in support of assisted living units,” he said.
“The condo project will also be a very important order of business, and the doctor shortage has been an ongoing problem and we must continue focusing on that together.”
The mayor said the town’s economic development committee—with its new mandate—will have the support of council, adding they’ll work together to attract new business and development here.
“I would like to see council work with the BIA and Chamber of Commerce to improve our downtown core area and support initiatives brought forward for the betterment of our community as a whole,” Mayor Avis added.
“Business retention will be a high priority with this council.”
The town’s sewer and water services, as well as aging infrastructure, also will remain a high priority.
“We have worked extensively developing strategies that will fund our shortfalls in our sewer and water utilities,” the mayor noted.
“This council will continue on that same path so our residents will continue to receive uninterrupted services.
“Council should also continue our plan for replacing aged infrastructure,” he continued.
But Mayor Avis admitted it won’t be easy. And with the decrease in senior government funding for infrastructure projects, council knows for sure these dollars will not be plentiful.
“We must set our goals and priorities wisely, and be prepared for any new programs and continue lobbying the government as we have done in the past,” he stressed.
“We need their support, as infrastructure ages, but they have to show leadership in helping communities deal with this problem.
“In closing, thanks again to our citizens for showing your support and allowing council and myself to work in your best interests,” Mayor Avis concluded.
Earlier Monday evening, Mayor Avis, along with Couns. John Albanese, Andrew Hallikas, Ken Perry, Paul Ryan, Sharon Tibbs, and Rick Wiedenhoeft, were sworn in by Justice of the Peace Pat Clysdale-Cornell.
“It is great see all of council return by acclamation,” the mayor said.
“This can be taken two different ways, one being complacency by the electorate, or the other, by the job we have done.
“I want to believe it’s the latter.”
Mayor Avis vowed council will accept the responsibilities of the job in an open, transparent, and professional manner, and will not govern in the interest of special interest groups but for the majority of citizens.
“Basically, what is good for Fort Frances,” he pledged.
Council appointments
Also Monday evening, Mayor Avis appointed Coun. Tibbs as deputy mayor for a second term, then appointed councillors to serve on the town’s numerous boards, committees, and commissions.
The appointments were as follows:
•Administration and Finance executive committee—Hallikas, Perry, and Tibbs;
•Planning and Development executive committee—Albanese, Tibbs, and Wiedenhoeft;
•Operations and Facilities executive committee—Perry, Ryan, and Wiedenhoeft;
•Community Services executive committee—Albanese, Hallikas, and Ryan;
•Citizen of the Year selection committee—Hallikas and Ryan;
•Court of Revision—Albanese, Perry, and Tibbs;
•Economic Development Advisory Committee—Perry;
•Regional Economic Development Committee—Perry;
•Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce—Albanese;
•First Nations Relations Advisory Committee—Avis, Ryan, and Wiedenhoeft;
•Diversity Committee—Tibbs;
•Sister Kennedy Centre board of management—Albanese and Hallikas;
•Police Services Board—Avis and Wiedenhoeft;
•Moffat Family Fund steering committee—Albanese, Hallikas, and Ryan;
•Northwestern Health Unit—Ryan;
•Fort Frances Volunteer Bureau—Wiedenhoeft;
•Rainy River District Municipal Association executive—Tibbs:
•Suggestions Awards Committee—Perry;
•Street Lighting Inspection Committee—Perry;
•negotiating committee (CUPE Local 65)—Avis, Hallikas, and Ryan;
•negotiating committee (Fort Frances Professional Fire Fighters Association)—Avis, Hallikas, and Perry;
•St. Francis Sportsfield management committee—Wiedenhoeft;
•theatre management advisory committee—Hallikas;
•Fort Frances Public Library Board—Tibbs and Wiedenhoeft;
•BIA board of management—Albanese;
•Salary Structure and Administration Practices Committee—Avis and Hallikas;
•Municipal Control Group—Avis (with Tibbs as his alternate);
•Fort Frances Municipal Non-Profit Housing Corp.—Albanese and Hallikas;
•Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board—Perry; and
•Doctor Recruitment and Retention Committee—Hallikas and Ryan.
All of these appointments are for two years. The mayor is ex-officio a member of all town boards, commissions, and committees.
Furthermore, councillors were appointed to rotating four-month terms as chair and vice-chair of the committee of the whole over the next four years, with Couns. Hallikas and Perry filling those roles, respectively, for Dec. 1, 2010-March 31, 2011.