GORE BAY—Gore Bay council wants to have a meeting with representatives of the Manitoulin Planning Board due to concerns with the projected significant increase to the 2013 budget.
“This letter came in fairly recently,” said Gore Bay Mayor Ron Lane during a Monday council meeting, commenting on an article in the Recorder that had already published the contents of the letter. The mayor noted the planning board had provided a proposed budget for 2013, “and there is a considerable increase even though based on assessment we will be seeing a 65 percent increase, which I think is pretty large.”
“A lot of this is because the rent being charged by Canada Post (for the planning board to lease space in its building) is increasing 143 percent in one year which is huge,” said Mr. Lane. “I’m not sure there is a lot we can do about it, but the secretary-treasurer of the board (Elva Carter) wanted all the reeves, mayors and councils to know this as well.”
“Don’t they (Canada Post) have to operate under the same rules in raising rent as everyone else?” asked Councillor Lou Addison. It was pointed out there are no rules in place for commercial buildings.
There were suggestions that maybe the planning board should be looking at a new location to rent in town. “This building is not accessible and the rent is not only going up for 2013, it is going up three percent over each of the next five years, so it is going to increase a further 15 percent in total.”
Ms. Carter had explained in her letter, “during the regular meeting of planning board held November 27, 2012, there was a preliminary review of the 2013 budget. It has been determined that there will be a significant increase to the budget for 2013 due to the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) project funding coming to a completion in 2012 and a substantial increase in the office space rent.”
“The conclusion of the GIS project funding will see an increase to the administration costs to assume the salary of the GIS technician,” wrote Ms. Carter. “This will be offset somewhat by the secretary-treasurer reducing her hours. Therefore, it is estimated there will be an increase to the administration costs of $37,760. While the GIS project funding is completed the GIS Technician will continue with the maintenance of the maps, which, at this time, is very important to the formation of the new Official Plan. The technician has been learning how the planning process works and, as time permits, assists with the administration work in the planning board office and is prepared to assume a greater role with the administration.”
“While the board and ultimately, the municipalities have benefited from a very favourable lease with Canada Post for a number of years, that has changed,” wrote Ms. Carter. “Following negotiations with Canada Post the annual rent has been increased from $4,708 to $11,475 annually. The lease includes a three percent increase annually over the next five years. This increase has been considered in line or below the going market. Canada Post had proposed to increase the rent to $15,000 annually.”
“Wasn’t the GIS technician hired for two years?” asked Ms. Addison.
“This rent is $1,000 more than we are going to charge for the second floor of the wharf building,” said Councillor Jack Clark, adding, “we need to explain to these people that it is unacceptable to be passing on the costs to us and not have an extra body and expect us to pay. This isn’t a blank cheque we are signing.”
Ms. Addison said in her letter that Ms. Carter said the salary of the GIS technician will be offset somewhat by her reducing her hours, “but doesn’t say what this is. And if we can determine another place in town that they can lease we could suggest it.”
“I’m sure no one is going to be happy with the increase, ours is 65 percent over last year,” pointed out Mr. Lane.
“Send a letter,” said Ms. Addison.
“We can say we are not content with the proposed increase, (and that the) board looks for ways to mitigate this and (look for) other office space,” said Mr. Lane.
It was suggested by Councillor Harry VanderWeerden that not only Ms. Carter, but the town’s representative on the planning board, Dan Osborne, could be invited to the January council meeting to discuss the proposed budget and the concerns of council.
“When the GIS technician was hired it was not to be on a permanent basis,” said Ms. Addison.
However, Ms. Clarke pointed out the GIS mapping is still being carried out. Mr. Osborne might be able to provide a better light on it if council meets with him and Ms. Carter, she said.
Gore Bay council has invited both Ms. Carter and Mr. Osborne to the January council meeting to discuss the estimated 2013 planning board budget.
“One thing I found interesting in all of this is that while the municipalities share of the budget has gone up, the government’s share for the unincorporated municipalities didn’t increase, so again we are subsidizing the costs of the planning board budget,” added Mr. Lane.