The Voice requested comment from council and the Mayor concerning their first full meeting and the issues that arose, including the proposed pay rise, the Station Street roundabout, and the proposed temporary parking lot at the community centre.
Mayor Marvin Junkin
What with the savings on the roundabout, the parking lot, new radios for the fire department, and the first bricks put in place for the audit committee, it was indeed a good night for the Town.
Councillor John Wink
The proposal for the gravel parking lot was a last-minute add to the agenda. I believe request was defeated because the Town did not complete an RFP for the proposed temporary parking lot nor was there any other alternatives presented. There is a definite need for more parking at the Meridian Community Centre, however we need to consider all options prior to proceeding with any final decision.
The scheduled roundabout on Station Street is an approximate cost of $700,000. Council has directed Jason Marr to provide a staff report on the roundabout. My concerns are from a financial and safety perspective. To eliminate the roundabout will result in a considerable savings to the Town. The safety issue comes with the seniors residences located in proximity to the intersection of Station and Summersides. I believe our seniors would have a difficult time negotiating the crossing of the roundabout.
The reason why I voted against the [council salary] increase was twofold. Firstly we need to send a message to the community that we are fiscally responsible. Secondly, the councillors did not run for election because of the remuneration—we ran because we felt we could make a difference in our community.
Councillor Bob Hildebrandt
Many residents had come to spend their evening at Town Hall just before Christmas. This demonstrated to council how important Pelham’s residents considered the new council’s first meeting.
The fact that we as council get the opportunity of doing life together with such amazing town people and staff was truly humbling. The commitment made by not only the Mayor and councillors, but also staff who publicly state their willingness to participate, was refreshing. At one juncture this brought applause from the public in attendance. As the evening’s agenda progressed the atmosphere continued to be filled with openness, optimism and expectancy. The power of the story of our first council meeting aligned to show what happens when people work together. It provided the ambition with a mission to achieve new heights. The strong narrative produced the glue that will bind our town together as we move forward.
Regarding the proposed council salary increase, it seemed like a nice gesture to provide a motion and to recommend an increase to all council members salaries to keep them at the same amount as received by our previous council. This move was in line with the 2017 Federal budget that requires all municipal politicians to pay taxes on their entire salary . Municipalities had until January 1, 2019 to make the necessary changes. This is what I refer to as downloading a problem to municipal governments. The federal government hoped that council would pass on this increase to their residents. It would help feed their budgets. It’s time to say NO!
We will not accept future downloading without a fight and I will do everything I can not to pass these increases on to our residents.
Our loud no will not only resonate with our residents but with the help of the press I hope they make a big splash in the local news big enough to get the notice of our provincial government, our federal government, and our representatives.
Downloading is one of my big soap boxes that with the help of Pelham residents we are going to make some noise on.
We are going to start responding back to downloading against Pelham. It is time to stand up and choose our battles on our terms and fight.
I am totally opposed to any increase of any amount for myself .
I did not run for council for remuneration of any amount.
I was willing to serve no matter what the personal cost.
I ran for office because I had a firm belief that I could and would make a significant difference.
As Mark Twain stated, “We can achieve what we conceive and believe.”
Councillor Marianne Stewart
I believe that council refused the raise in our salary to underscore our commitment to fiscal responsibility.
Councillor Lisa Haun
The reason I ran for council was to make a positive difference in my community by applying a commonsense and fiscally responsible approach to decision making. Remuneration for this role was certainly never a motivator for me. I’m both pleased and also not surprised that the vote was unanimous against a salary increase. Although this was only our first council meeting, residents of Pelham will recognize our commitment to fiscal responsibility through our recent decisions that will save them over $700,000 dollars. Get ready for action and not just words…we’ve only just begun.
Councillor Ron Kore
Regarding the temporary parking lot requested for the community centre, when council was told that it was only net cost of $40,240 this is a small fraction of the real facts. At the last minute, at 2:09 PM on December 17—three hours before our first council meeting—the Town added a memorandum with recommendations to the agenda regarding the parking issue because of the upcoming Silver Stick tournament. These same recommendations should have be presented to the previous council last summer, so they could have dealt with the issue—the issue they created.
Everyone knew about the parking situation over seven months ago and no one did anything about it—then we waited two weeks before the Silver Stick tournament to act on it. We all knew that the Silver Stick tournaments were coming with 58 teams in December and 98 teams in January. We should have told the citizens of Pelham that we still needed to write a check for $78,690—money we don’t have because of our large debt level.
Those are the facts.
(Councillor Mike Ciolfi did not respond.)
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