The first month, under Council’s new rules of procedure, was slow. There were only three meetings: a Council meeting, a Committee of the Whole meeting and a Corporate Affairs Committee.
Rutledge Speed Reduction Hits Bump.
The new rules are partially responsible for the delayed response to community concerns about high traffic speeds on Rutledge Road.
The Public Services Committee recommended numerous reductions in speed limits on Rutledge Road near Sydenham. Unfortunately, they left out the section from Ashwood Crescent to Boundary Road: a concern for many residents. An amendment at Council to reduce the speed limit on this section was defeated. A second motion was referred back to committee which does not meet again until after the first council meeting in February.
Part of the problem is that the Public Services Committee reported directly to Council rather than Committee of the Whole. At Committee of the Whole it would have been easier to identify the problem and change the recommendation before it came to Council. The report directly to Council required formal amendments and motions for any changes.
It is too early to draw firm conclusions about the new rules of procedure but the concern that they shift power away from Council and the public to staff is still there.
How to maximize income from and protection for the Township’s 16-million-dollar reserve fund was up for debate in January.
The reserves are money the Township has in the bank. They provide operating funds before the taxes are collected allowing the Township to avoid taking short term loans. Reserves also pay for capital projects, like firehalls, road rebuilds and large equipment purchases. And they are valuable in case of a major emergency: for example, a devastating forest fire or key bridge collapse.
How large our reserves should be is a political question. Some minimums are useful. For example, in the case of a natural disaster the Township is on the hook for the first 3 million dollars before provincial assistance starts. And we need about 5 million to cover our yearly operating shortfalls before taxes are paid.
With the goal of increasing the income from the money in the bank in August 2016 Council established a new investment policy. About 6 million dollars was transferred from the savings account to mutual funds run by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
The mutual fund results were mixed. Over the first year and a half returns were often small threatening underlying capital value. While the year end results were adequate the decision was made to return the funds to investments that guarantee the capital and issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for investment advisory services.
The Township’s investment strategy will be re-evaluated after the results of the RFP are known.
Township Twitter and Facebook Accounts
The Township set up Twitter and Facebook accounts in January. You can join both sites and get South Frontenac’s official news at Twitter account: @SthFrontenacTwp , and Facebook: Corp of Township of South Frontenac.
Ditching for the reconstruction of Bedford Road between Alton and the Sydenham dam should begin in the first week of February. All the construction is scheduled to be completed by July 1, 2018. Similarly, the Perth Road Fire Hall is progressing well and should be open latter this spring or early summer.
Lakes and Trails Festival
Planning has begun for the second annual Lakes and Trails Festival. Last summer hundreds of people enjoyed a day of activity, local history and community. The 2018 Festival will be held on Saturday July 14 and feature cycling, paddling, and a historical walking tour. For more information or to help send me a note.