MRC meeting - Evening meetings, PPJ maintenance report, new committees

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Added: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 10:32pm
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Allyson Beauregard

CAMPBELL'S BAY – The first Council of Mayors (CoM) meeting following the
municipal election was held at the MRC building, November 22. It was Warden Jane Toller's first CoM meeting and she said she is confident the present council will be able to look back on the next four years as “a time of accomplishment”. One of the main items on the agenda was the adoption of the 2018 budget.
Toller announced three new committees have been added to the year’s calendar: Finance and Administration (review the budget and provide status updates, explore possible revenue streams and available grants, etc); Communications and Transportation (look into cellphone, internet and landline services, study
transport patterns, suggest roadwork, etc); and Economic Development/ Job Creation. All mayors were invited to sit on at least one committee.
In addition, Toller hopes to implement other committees in the near future that members of the public can sit on - such as seniors housing, solid waste management, and youth planning committees - to encourage all of the region's players to “work together cooperatively”.
Evening meetings
Starting in January 2018, the monthly CoM and TNO meetings will be held at 6:30 pm on the third Wednesday of every month to encourage
the public to attend. Travel expenses for mayors and the time they spend away from their municipalities will also be reduced since the closed Plenary Committee meetings will be held earlier the same day. The new schedule will run as a trial and will be reassessed and adjusted if needed in March.
Budget
The MRC's $6.2 million budget for 2018 was unanimously adopted; it features
an 8.8% reduction in expenditures, municipal shares maintained at $0.14 per $100 of evaluation, the hiring of an in-house engineer, and a $20,000 fund to support large events. The MRC will receive an extra $97,000 in total revenue from municipal shares in 2018 due to the increase of some evaluations. 
The CoM believes hiring an engineer will be a cost savings compared to contracting out work and Toller emphasized that the budget will likely become more efficient next year when elected officials have more time to study and reflect on it. The Finance Committee is mandated to find areas to save and to find
additional revenue streams. 
PPJ Trail Maintenance
Emilie Chazelas, MRC Economic Development Officer, gave a brief summary of  work done on the PPJ trail this summer. A full report from the engineer hired to assess the trail (drainage, culverts, and surface condition) will be presented in December, but Chazelas stressed it was essential to approve certain projects immediately in order to benefit from available funding and meet government deadlines for work.
Fifty percent of the approximate $250,000 budget for the trail in 2017 came from Route Verte; any unused funds must be returned, and would eliminate the MRC's ability to apply for $80,000 in funding through the MTQ in 2018. A work report has to be submitted by January.
According to the engineer, of the PPJ's 73 culverts, 31 need non-urgent repairs (within 2-5 years), while 22 urgently need attention; the remaining are in good condition. Repairing a large culvert in the Morehead Road area of Litchfield will cost about $85,000 on top of $71,000 spent on trail maintenance this year; this large culvert repair won’t be completed until early January. Another eight culverts can be repaired with the remaining budget money ($94,000), and the work will be completed by the lowest bidder, Pavage Lafleur, before December 15. The amount quoted for trail maintenance ($71,000) includes MRC employee salaries and vehicle expenses as well as any actual maintenance done on the trail throughout the summer season. 
Supporting postal banking
Toller was mandated to sign a letter addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in support of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers'
proposal to the federal government to establish postal banks that would provide banking services (loans, insurance, checking and savings accounts, etc) as well as
partnerships with community-based internet service providers.