Summary of Municpal Council Meeting held on February 7
Here is a brief summary of last meeting. Be indulgent, we’ll try and publish one for each meeting, but it will take a few days before being released on the blog.
That being said, your presence is essential. Do not let the City Council believe that there is a minority of citizens interested in the management of our city. Your presence is a message in itself. You’ll get the information at the source and be able to ask questions that matter for you. It is therefore to be written on your calendar: March 7 at 7:00 pm. There were over a hundred people this week. That’s good. That should be the norm.
The meeting of February 7 began on a sour note as it had been announced at 7:30 on the Website of the city, preventing many of the « latecomers » to ask questions in the first period. The very next day, the City had corrected the information on the site. But the name of the General Director is still Mr. René Lachance, the predecessor of Mr. Pierre Charron.
A citizen said she was shocked by the lack of respect for people in the room, whom the Mayor interrupted, demanding questions without any comment. The answers were vague. « No » became « maybe », sometimes even « yes » as more questions were being asked. Apart from the issue of taxes, many attendees said they were outraged over the snow removal done by an incomprehensible logic.
Here are answers that people have obtained:
- Should there be an increase in the assessment roll by the MRC in 2011, the mayor does not undertake to lower tax rates to compensate.
- Should land that the city has recovered for non-payment of taxes be sold (we’re talking about the « land of the Germans »), profits would not be applied to the accumulated deficit, even though this issue explains 12% of the deficit, as the mayor’s own words.
- We will achieve a balanced budget in 5 years.
- The budget was presented on December 21 despite the fact that a new General Director took office December 13. Other municipalities have delayed the adoption of their budget. Would Mr. Pierre Charron have been ingenious and found other solutions given the opportunity?
- Mr. Pierre Charron noted that, in 5 years, there could be a reduction in taxes once the deficit was a settled matter. Asked by citizens if he agreed, the mayor said he did not second anything. He was not there to administer, but to chair meetings. (Strange turnaround for a man who liked to say he was not a politician, but administrator.)
- Why not have allowed taxpayers to pay their taxes in 5 installments without interest? Because the 5th payment would coincide with back to school period and Christmas.
- The request for an investigation by the Ministère des Affaires municipales, des Régions et de l’occupation du territoire on the management by the previous administration was dismissed. But the mayor continues to call for an investigation, saying vaguely that they have « discovered other things. » We asked to see the letter. We were told it would be added to the city’s site.
- Councillor Mrs Paule Blain-Clotteau refused to support the resolution awarding $3,983.67 to the Maison des jeunes, in fairness to the Société culturelle du Pavillon des jardins, who has been denied the funding requested by $10,000. The mayor said the city granted $5,000 to SCPJ, failing to say that is in fact part of an agreement with GENS (Gestion environnementale Nord-Sud), which pays half of that money. The City actually contributes $2,500.
- Mr. Councillor Andrew McNicoll insisted to inform the public that the MRC has reversed the City’s decision on the request of the Charlebois’ sugar shack, as recommended by the Advisory Committee on Planning; a request which had been granted by the city thanks to Mr. Mayor’s vote.
- Georges Dinel admitted that the rumor that a counselor was the subject of a mise en demeure was true, adding that it was personal, but still having to admit that the City pays for these costs.
- The mayor insisted that his team had lowered the tax rate upon arrival. However, according to figures given at the presentation of the budget (click here), the average tax rate in 2010 was 1.1937 compared to 1.1164 in 2009. It is therefore an increase of nearly 8% and this despite the fact that property values (assessment roll) was slightly higher, thus enabling additional revenue.
- Asked about the flowers (downtown was decorated by weeds and ragweed last summer), Mr. Dinel responded that the budget was not $25,000 as in the past but there was « a » budget, « unless you tell us you want a tax increase. »
- A citizen outraged by the tax increase asked whether the mayor was going to award himself a bonus. The latter replied: « On n’est pas vendus à ce point-là. » (We can’t be bought to that extent.) Uh … just a little then?