Municipality of the District of Clare
Wednesday, April 1, 2020 at 7:00 pm
PRESENT: Council: Warden Ronnie LeBlanc, Deputy Warden Nil Doucet, Councillors, Hector Thibault, Brian Comeau, Yvon LeBlanc, Eric Pothier, Danny Hill and Carl Deveau
Staff: CAO, Stéphane Cyr, Director of Finance, Ginette Cheff, Executive Assistant, Ashley Hanks, and Communications Officer, Amy Paradis
1) Call to Order
Warden Ronnie LeBlanc called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm.
2) (a) Approval of the Agenda
Warden Ronnie LeBlanc asked that the following item be added to the agenda:
- 6.6 Letter - SaulTech Computers
MOVED BY Councillor Eric Pothier and SECONDED BY Councillor Brian Comeau that the proposed agenda be approved with the above noted addition.
(b) Declaration of Conflict of Interest
Warden Ronnie LeBlanc asked for any declarations of conflict of interest.
Councillor Brian Comeau and Deputy Warden Nil Doucet noted conflicts in 8.1 Contract Negotiations – Grants to Organizations.
4) Staff Reports
5) Business arising from Previous Meetings
6) New Business
6.1 Request for Letter of Support – Meteghan Marina Association
The CAO was approached by Harold Boudreau of the Meteghan Marina Association requesting a letter of support from the Municipality as part of their funding application to ACOA. The project in question entails the construction of new wharves for recreational boating. Because the request was time sensitive, an email was sent to Council requesting they indicate whether they were prepared to support this request. Support was unanimous and the letter was subsequently issued. In order to ratify the issuance of the letter of support to the Meteghan Marina Association, Council passed the following motion to recommend:
PROPOSED BY Councillor Danny Hill and SECONDED BY Councillor Brian Comeau that the Council for the Municipality of the District of Clare recommend writing a letter to the Meteghan Marina Association in support of their funding application to ACOA for the construction of new wharves for recreational boating.
6.2 Purchase of Artwork
The Municipality has local artwork displayed in many of its buildings. With this in mind, the CAO raised the possibility of creating a policy which would guide the Municipality’s future purchases so as to ensure continued fairness and transparency while supporting the local arts community and enhancing our public buildings. Council agreed to the creation of a policy as recommended and suggested it specify artwork that highlights and/or commemorates Acadian culture and heritage.
6.3 Occupational Health and Safety Policy
The Municipality is participating in a pilot project launched by the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education and the Workers Compensation Board focusing on Occupational Health and Safety (OHS). As part of the project, the Municipality will be revisiting its OHS policy and formalizing its OHS program, in keeping with provincially accepted standards. The Municipality’s current OHS policy is well written however much of the content would be better suited as part of an OHS program rather than a policy. To this end, the CAO is proposing the policy by amended (see attached). Council reviewed the proposed amendment and passed the following motion to recommend:
PROPOSED BY Councillor Carl Deveau and SECONDED BY Councillor Danny Hill that the Council for the Municipality of the District of Clare recommend accepting the proposed amendment to the Municipality’s Occupational Health and Safety Policy as presented.
6.4 Review of 2020-2021 Draft Operational Budget
The CAO and the Director of Finance presented the Municipality’s proposed operating budget for fiscal 2020-2021. The $9,563,030 budget is balanced and calls for the residential and commercial property tax rates to remain unchanged from 2019-2020 levels, specifically $1.04 and $2.07 per $100 of assessment respectively. Other highlights include:
- $1,146,539 for RCMP costs, including prosecution services and DNA testing.
- $118,475 for Corrections
- $913,501 for Fire Departments including both operational and capital funding as well as debt servicing.
- $1,808,213 for Education
- $282,728 and $204,779 for Tourism and Recreation respectively
- A continued commitment to the provision of municipal services in both official languages
- A renewal of the low-income property tax exemption
- Dedicated funding for the CMA 2024, the Festival acadien de Clare and the Transport de Clare.
Both the CAO and Director of Finance have qualified this budget as fiscally conservative and further complicated by the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.
Council was pleased with the budget as presented and staff’s efforts to have this exercise completed prior to the April 2020 Council meeting. The following motion to recommend was made:
PROPOSED BY Councillor Yvon LeBlanc and SECONDED BY Councillor Danny Hill that the 2020-2021 operational budget for the Municipality of the District of Clare be approved as presented.
6.5 Review of 2020-2021 Draft Capital Budget
The CAO presented the Municipality’s proposed capital budget for fiscal 2020-2021. The budget is highlighted by the Municipality’s continued investment in rural internet, more specifically the roll-out of the 278 km fiber optic network, reaching an estimated 4,600 residences and businesses. The budget also contains investments in municipally-owned facilities such as the Clare Health Centre, the Clare Veterans Centre and the Havelock Community Centre as well continued support to municipal infrastructure including wastewater treatment plants, sidewalks and municipal parks. Council made the following motion to recommend:
PROPOSED BY Councillor Carl Deveau and SECONDED BY Councillor Brian Comeau that the 2020-2021 capital budget for the Municipality of the District of Clare be approved as presented.
6.6 Letter – SaulTech Computers
The CAO read a letter from Chris Mazeroll, President of SaulTech Computers (See attached).
The CAO clarified that Digital nGenuity was hired as a result of an audit which identified major security issues with the Municipality’s IT infrastructure. These have since been remedied and proper safeguards implemented. Digital nGenuity remains very receptive and accommodating to staff’s IT inquiries / issues, with both remote and on-site services provided. Of particular note is the success of Digital nGenuity’s efforts to quickly and safely enable staff to work remotely in light of COVID-19. At this time, the CAO sees no reason to change IT service providers. Council agrees. A response letter to this effect will be forwarded to Mr. Mazeroll.
7) Questions and Comments from the Public
8) Closed Session
PROPOSED BY Deputy Warden Nil Doucet and SECONDED BY Councillor Yvon LeBlanc that Council proceed to closed session.
8.1 Contract Negotiations – Grants to Organizations
8.2 Human Resources
PROPOSED BY Deputy Warden Nil Doucet and SECONDED BY Councillor Yvon LeBlanc that Council proceed to the Regular Council Meeting.
9) Date and time of the next Council-in-Committee Meeting
The next Council-in-Committee Meeting will be held on May 6, 2020 at 7:00 pm.
PROPOSED BY Deputy Warden Nil Doucet to adjourn the meeting at 10:10 pm.