Ho! Ho! Ho! And a happy, safe holiday to all.
December was another busy month for Midland Council as they attempted to sort through matters of grave importance as well as managing the customary noise.
Question: What happens when you convene a budget meeting with nine elected Councillors and 10 staff (earning collectively in excess of $1 million per year)?
Answer: Well on December 9th you get a budget process that comes to a complete halt and hits a wall.
December was not a good month for Council as we witnessed the first real crack in their desire to function cohesively.
Clearly, crisp communication, unrealistic budget targets, staff lack of experience and the need for a defined process was the root cause of this awkward moment.
There were lots of red faces as the meeting came to an abrupt close and Santa Claus wasn’t even in attendance.
FYI, the January 12th budget meeting is cancelled while staff go back to the drawing board and Council reflect on what went wrong- more to come on the budget front.
December 14th saw the General Committee meeting and the Council meeting combine into one meeting.
The meeting opened with the celebration of three citizen’s who received Midland’s “Award of Merit”; Joyce Hamelin, Dianne Greenfield and MacKena Murray. Congratulations to you and all of the citizens who give freely of their time and in doing so, truly make a difference to the fabric of the community.
Three enlightening deputations followed:
1) Midland Senior’s Council
2) Lakehead University
3) We are the Villagers
The work of these groups remains very meaningful to the community, and the generosity of their selfless members is much appreciated.
The Midland Full-time Fire personnel will receive their 2015 pay increase just in time for Xmas. As our member/contacts know, we have objected to the town concluding the 2015-2016 MPFFA collective agreement because the award fails to recognize our economic realities, the need for greater flexibility to adapt to our changing environment, and onerous new language which simply ties our hands going forward.
Expect a report from the new Fire Chief, Paul Ryan in early spring, which will address tiered response and hopefully much needed changes and efficiencies in the fire deployment model. We’re curious to see if the sunshine list (town employees earning $100,000- or more) balloons even further above the 12 Fire fighters who had this distinction in 2014.
Speaking of emergency services, Council unanimously approved the OPP costing exercise directed at possibly providing Police services for the Town of Midland.
Perhaps this initiative will answer the question as to why Midland pays $2 million more for Police services on a per capita basis than the neighbouring town of Penetanguishene. We anticipate lots of jockeying and public outcry from staff and friends of the Midland Police Service who might have a vested interest in the outcome; we expect the costing result late spring!
While there is much more to report, we’ve decided to keep this update brief and focus on the big-ticket items. We’ll save the dashboard and the related customer satisfaction scorecard, the MPUC sale/merger, the Midland Bay Landing update, the KPMG cost savings tracking initiative, the SPP OMB appeal, and the “hotly debated” Municipal energy plan for another day.
Here’s our Christmas wish to Town Council and staff:
Focus, Focus and when you think you’ve got it right, Focus some more. Activity addiction is a curse!
In the meantime, to one and all, wishing you a safe and happy holiday and may your time with family and friends exceed all of your expectations.
Midland matters, your voice matters and you matter.