Highlands East septic inspections continue
The following are brief reports of items discussed at the July 4 regular meeting of Highlands East council.
By Angelica Ingram
Published July 10, 2018
Chief building official Laurie Devolin gave council an update on the septic maintenance program currently underway in the municipality.
“Letters have been sent out to property owners describing the level of compliance of their septic systems and asking for a response from any that were above the low risk category,” she wrote in a report to council.
Devolin said that while she has received many responses, in some cases second and third letters have been sent out.
“To date our department has sent out 126 letters in regards to properties being inspected during the 2017 season. Of these, 78 have responded to us, with 19 being completed so far. Some of our respondents are in the process of obtaining the necessary permits and installing new septic systems. Some have just opened their cottages or are planning to do so in July so I am hopeful that our compliance number will increase over the summer,” she stated in her report.
Devolin told council that in some cases she may have to issue orders.
“I do have a couple of systems right now that may require me to issue orders, because they are unsafe.” Devolin said she’s willing to work with residents to come up with a solution.
“I’m trying to be flexible with people ... we do need these things corrected but I understand there are limited resources and I can’t make somebody do something if they don’t have the money to do it.”
Council votes to increase wage to offset tax exemption changes
Following in the footsteps of county councillors, Highlands East council has voted in favour of increasing their wages to make up the difference from new tax rules.
As of Jan. 1, 2019, councillors will no longer have a one-third tax free allowance on their remuneration.
“On June 6, 2018, council received an information report regarding the elimination of the one-third tax allowance for elected members of council. Staff was directed to bring back options for council’s consideration. Remuneration for council members are only two-thirds taxed. Each year the municipality increases council salaries by the negotiated annual increase of the local union. The 2017 increase was 1.75 per cent,” wrote chief administrative officer/treasurer Shannon Hunter in a report to council.
In response to the tax changes, Hunter presented three options to council, the first being no change to remuneration, the second being no change however additional expenses could be claimed by council members, and the third option being an increase to wages to ensure their net pay remains the same.
The second option could result in a more costly option to the municipality than the third option, wrote Hunter in her report.
The third option had an expected annual budget increase of $3,829 for the municipality.
“The exact impact on each councillor’s net pay would depend on their specific circumstances,” wrote Hunter.
Councillor Cec Ryall said he was not comfortable with councillors giving themselves a raise.
Councillor Joan Barton said she spends way more than the current tax exemption allows and thinks the third option is more than fair.
“I don’t think you should be penalized,” said Barton.
Councillors, with the exception of Ryall, voted in favour of the third option.
Changes coming to building office in Gooderham
Renovations will be happening at the Highlands East building department, to accommodate the vacancy left by the space formerly belonging to the Gooderham post office.
The hope is that phase 1 of the renovation can begin after Labour Day. The project is estimated to cost a total of $25,000.
“The work generally consists of removal and replacement of interior finishes, construction of new office space, expansion of a public washroom for accessibility, and the creation of a public Wi-Fi Lounge,” wrote Devolin in her report to council.
Council approved the plans and scope of work.
Lloyd Watson Centre to cool off
Air conditioning will soon be coming to the Lloyd Watson Centre, with installation expected at the end of this month.
Property supervisor Jim Alden reported that three air conditioning units for the LWC will be installed by the end of July.
“These units are included in the 2018 budget and will be roof mounts. The units are being installed by MXM Metal Heating Solutions from Haliburton,” his report stated.