COUNCIL MISCELLANY 1: Contracts, pool grants, budget consulation, etc

Andrew Bennett
By Andrew Bennett
January 27th, 2013

The council meeting on Jan. 14 included the declassification of an amendment to the CAO’s contract, news on grant applications, a new “Alternative Approval Process” to finance the downtown renovations, smoking dogs, more preamble to upcoming budget deliberations, and council’s motion to proceed into discussions with School District No. 20 about potentially partnering with the city as a means to preserve K-12 in Rossland.

Declassified resolution—amendments to the CAO/CFO employment contract

A portion of the Nov. 26 closed meeting has been declassified to ‘non-confidential.’ The amendment was carried by council with Coun. Kathy Moore opposed.

Prior to the amendment, the CAO/CFO contract for Cecile Arnott (reported in greater detail here) her pensionable salary was $160,000, of which $15,000 was “donated” back to the city to cover most of her $15,200 in pension premiums. In addition, she received benefits of $12,411, for a total cost to the city of $172,611.

The amended contract is $157,600 plus pension premiums of$14,972 for a total cost to the city of $172,572.

The complete CAO/CFO contract, including appendices and job descriptions, is attached below.

Grant applications—Age-friendly grant for swimming pool upgrades is unsuccessful

The application for the age-friendly pool grant (reported in detail here) was not successful, and Coun. Jill Spearn asked, “What went wrong?”

Corporate Officer Tracey Butler responded that the grant application she co-authored had focussed on handrails and flooring, “but they wanted to see programs, not capital stuff.”

Spearn commented, “Next time, we should read the fine print and use their language. The criteria were not quite what we needed.”

Later in the meeting, Coun. Kathy Moore asked about recent announcements by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in their nationwide infrastructure plan, and whether Rossland might pursue “money to fund broadband [internet] or green and innovative infrastructure projects.”

Moore also thanked Tourism Rossland (TR) for their work, noting that the $30,000 in city funding has been “leveraged up” to a number of grants. She said that many TR projects would typically be “the job of the municipality.” “We need to appreciate their contribution to the city,” she said.

Downtown renovations—New “Alternative Approval Process”

The city confirmed a long-standing rumour that the Alternative Approval Process used in December 2010 to ascertain public support for up to $6 million in long-term low-interest municipal borrowing—and reported in greater detail here—was not actually approved because of a timing error.

“We were one day short on the AAP,” CO Tracey Butler explained, referring to the 30-day period the AAP must be available to the public. “We have to do the whole thing again.”

Coun. Kathy Moore had questioned in August, 2012, why the downtown renovations appeared to have been financed on a short, five-year term, rather than the 25 year term approved through the AAP. Former CAO Victor Kumar did not answer the question at the time, as we reported here.

The AAP also raised a debate at council in early 2011 over advertising the AAP, which is an “opt-out” approach that requires residents to come to City Hall to sign their name against the idea of borrowing. If more than 10 per cent of residents sign against the AAP, it fails and the borrowing cannot move forward.

Last time, although city staff followed all the provincially legislated advertising requirements, some councillors—namely former Coun. Andy Stradling, Coun. Jill Spearn, and Coun. Kathy Moore—called for advertising through online media.

At the time, Stradling also expressed general concern with approaches like the AAP that require opposition to stop, rather than support to advance.

Budget time—Informal public meetings considered

Coun. Kathy Moore took hold of a suggestion made by a resident that council hold “several informal meetings when we get into budget time, in a different venue than council.”

“Rather than people coming to a microphone at the Prestige,” she suggested, meetings could take place more casually at the Miners’ Hall, the Seniors’ Hall, or at a coffee shop.

Moore explained the idea was “just so we’re all out there, taking feedback from the community about budget.”

“We are out there,” Mayor Greg Granstrom responded. He qualified, “Our names are out there. I think we’ve also got to remember that five of seven [of council] are working for a living, so you have to be a little bit cognizant of that.”

He added, “I think that if there’s a way that perhaps you want to sit down, give it some thought, make some suggestions, and put something together and see what we think about it.”

Moore also suggested that council reinstitute a survey to the community about budget issues.

Corporate Officer Tracey Butler said “she had not yet been directed to do that,” so Moore suggested that the 2009 survey be brought to council to be reviewed and amended, and then sent out to the community.

[Note: We have not forgotten about DemocracySTORM, in which residents were asked to give their budget ideas. The storm’s second step, when residents will be able to vote on their favourite ideas, is coming up soon.]


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