Remuneration bylaw up for vote tonight

Whether or not town council will see their benefits paid for in addition to their current salary, or whether they’ll have to keep on paying out of that, will be decided tonight.
But as to whether the bylaw is passed or not, is anybody’s guess. Back when the issue was raised late last month, council seemed to be divided as to whether they deserve what some councillors have called a raise—and others their rightful compensation.
Coun. Neil Kabel had requested the issue of remuneration be brought back to the table for reconsideration by the new council after the outgoing one changed the bylaw so that councillors who chose to participate in the town’s benefits package have to pay for it out of their salaries.
This would mean that in addition to their $10,000 salaries (the mayor’s salary is about $21,000), councillors would see their $3,600 health benefits plan paid for.
Currently, if they choose to have the benefits, they pay for it out of their salary.
But at that time, several councillors voiced concerns that, given the town’s fiscal situation, it would not be prudent for council to effectively give themselves what some might consider a pay raise.
Then it was revealed July 12 that council will have to find an extra $16,800, in addition to its current councillor benefit budget, if the amended bylaw that will see them get their health benefits package paid for.
At that council meeting, treasurer Peggy Dupuis noted that council has roughly $15,000 in the 2004 budget for councillor benefits.
About $3,000 of that already has been spent this year in payments to the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS), Canada Pension Plan, Ontario Health Tax, and Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) for the mayor and council, with another $3,000 or so to come out by the end of the year.
Dupuis noted this leaves a balance of about $8,300.
If all six councillors and the mayor were to get benefits packages, with compensation being retroactive to Dec. 1, 2003, it would equal about $25,000, she noted.
“If everybody took it, we would be over-budget by $16,800 and change,” said Dupuis. “If it was for half-a-year [i.e., not retroactive to Dec. 1, 2003], we’d be over by about $5,000.”
Also, in the weeks since the issue was brought back to council for discussion, discussion on the street, as well as in numerous letters to the editor in the Fort Frances Times, has indicated that voting in favour of the benefits bylaw will not sit well with the public.
If the bylaw is adopted, the benefits will be retroactive to Dec. 1, 2003.
In related news, local resident Melvin Haukaas will speak on the proposed benefits bylaw as one of the delegations at tonight’s meeting.
The committee of the whole will meet today at 5:30 p.m., but will be in-camera in the downstairs meeting room until about 5:46 p.m. after which time they will convene in Council Chambers.
Tonight’s council meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m., will be preceded by a public meeting at 7 p.m. At this meeting, which is required under the Planning Act, two zoning bylaws will be up for public input before being amended by council tonight.
The first is for property at 801-815 Central Ave., which is proposed to be rezoned from R4—Residential to C1—Local Commercial. It also will be assigned a new address—100 Third St. West.
The second is for property at 780 King’s Highway (the former Perth’s building). The proposed zoning bylaw amdendment is intended to rezone the subject property, which is C3—Highway Commercial, to include a personal services establishment and a dwelling as permitted uses, and amend certain regulations to recognize the location of the existing building and reduce the interior side yard from 1.7 metres to 1.5 m.
Other business at tonight’s meeting includes:
•a public meeting regarding partial boulevard closure (part of Sinclair Street abutting 429 and 431 Sinclair St.);
•a bylaw to designate an area (100 Third St. West) as a site plan control area and provide for site plan agreements as a condition of development;
•a bylaw to authorize the execution of a site plan control agreement as a condition of development for the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada—1301 Mill Road;
•a delegation by local resident Ken Perry regarding waste from the old Fort Frances High School property;
•a presentation of the 2003 financial statements by Jon Evans of BDO Dunwoody;
•a break open ticket licence application from the Fort Frances Volunteer Bureau at the Makabi Inn Motel from Aug. 1, 2004-Aug. 1, 2005;
•a break open ticket licence application from the Fort Frances Aquanauts Swim Club at Rainy Lake Sports and Tackle from July 30, 2004-Jan. 29, 2005;
•a memorandum from municipal planner Faye Flatt regarding the disposition of town property;
•a bylaw to approve an amendment with the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. for financing of La Verendrye Parkway Phase II;
•a bylaw to authorize the entering into of lease agreement with Bearskin Lake Air Services Limited, Ivey Aviation Limited and North Air Services at the Fort Frances Municipal Airport; and
•a bylaw to establish an emergency management program for the protection of public safety, health, the environment, the critical infrastructure and property, and to promote economic stability and a disaster-resilient community.