SUDBURY – Northeast Town mayor Al MacNevin has been appointed by his peers on the Manitoulin Municipal Association (MMA) to be Manitoulin’s representative at the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities’ (FONOM) table, replacing FONOM’s longest serving representative, former Billings mayor Austin Hunt.
Mayor MacNevin said his appointment happened at an April meeting of the MMA when they realized that Mr. Hunt, the District of Manitoulin’s FONOM rep, needed to be replaced. When no one volunteered to put their name forward, Mayor MacNevin offered to fill the spot.
Mayor MacNevin attended his first FONOM meeting during last week’s session in Sudbury.
There are 11 directors at the FONOM table. They each represent one of the seven districts and one of the four cities in Northeastern Ontario.
Mayor MacNevin said much of last week’s discussion focused on the impending downloads to municipalities. “Everyone knows there will be impacts, but we don’t have numbers,” he said.
“The message we received (from the ministers present) was basically, ‘you got your efficiency funding this year, so use it to your advantage’,” Mayor MacNevin said.
The mayor said he has concerns that the upcoming years will be reminiscent of 1998 and former Tory Premier Mike Harris’ Common Sense Revolution that had the council of the day considering 18 percent tax increases.
“We spent a lot of late nights looking at finding ways to deal with the situation,” he added. “If they cut OMPF (Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund), we could go back to those days.”
Mayor MacNevin said he’s happy to have the potential to speak behind-the-scenes with ministers with his new gig on the FONOM executive.
The Thursday night banquet held a tribute to Mr. Hunt who has the title of Canada’s longest serving politician. Mr. Hunt retired from municipal politics last fall at age 92.
Lynn Watson of Echo Bay, a fellow FONOM board member, shared with the group stories from his time driving back and forth to meetings with the then Billings mayor, sharing his many accomplishments with all present. Mayor MacNevin said it was obvious that the ministers were impressed with Mr. Hunt’s long list of achievements.
“He’s well-loved,” Mayor MacNevin said of Mr. Hunt. “It’s going to be hard maintaining his status,” he laughed.