Reserve hot topic as council nears end of term

Elliot Lake finance and administration committee chair Norman Mann said city councilors talked more about reserve funding at their Monday night meeting than they had all along. throughout the 2022 budget process.

At the meeting, Mann called this year’s budget a concession document put together to come up with a figure that would allow staff to do their jobs.

City of Elliot Lake budgeting is done over a 10 year period to allow for unforeseen or unavoidable expenses like buying another tandem truck with a plow, so the money is there when needed and that city streets be cleared of snow as needed in winter.

Mann also added a disclaimer: “This year we’re at breakeven and I’m glad it’s moving forward.

“There were higher recommendations. We really didn’t follow that.

But Mann added: “But that doesn’t mean these things aren’t brewing.”

Com. Ed Pearce said his concern was that the council would take money from the discretionary reserve fund, which is the money needed in an emergency.

“It’s the money we need if all of a sudden, God forbid, another roof collapses or we get 20 centimeters of snow in mid-October that we didn’t expect.

“It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul. And that’s something that makes me very, very worried,” he continued.

“Anyone who comes into the new board, you’re going to have to watch that and you’re going to have to watch it very, very carefully.

“You have two options. You raise taxes or you can cut services and you can cut operating funds. That’s all you can do. The same thing that was done in 2010,” Pearce concluded.

Com. Chris Patrie also said he got the message about either raising taxes or slowing city spending.

“Our treasurer has been saying that since the day she was hired. It’s not that we need to raise taxes. Our reserves are growing every year and moving them from discretionary work to discretionary work to construction, whatever. ”

However, Homeland explained that there will likely only be a few million of the $28 million currently in Elliot Lake reserves that the city will have on hand at the end of this year.

Mayor Dan Marchisella said he was impressed with the strong turnout in the City Council gallery on Monday, but somewhat surprised.

“I’m really happy to see so many people in the gallery tonight,” he said. “Why doesn’t anyone know what’s going on financially with the city? Are all of our budget meetings open to the public?”

“I heard some stupid comments recently that the city has $26.5 million in reserve. Why not just take $22 million (of that) and build this arts center downtown?” Marchisella continued.

The mayor explained that this is not how the system works in that there are specific funds that go to specific things.

For example, he explained, if there is money in a public transport reserve, it is only for public transport, it cannot be placed anywhere else.

Also on Monday’s agenda, his fellow advisers voted unanimously in favor of Coun. Ed Pearce’s motion asking for the disclosure of the money the city spent on Integrity Commissioner (IC) fees. They were paid for by the taxpayers of Elliot Lake.

In light of this, staff will compile an aggregate report on IC’s costs for the public, but will not include individual lawyers’ bills as they are subject to solicitor-client privilege. .

On a personal note, Marchisella said he regretted filing complaints with the IC, being the recipient of investigations, and experiencing first-hand the militarization of the process.

He figured it would be easier to settle disputes the old-fashioned way.

“The municipality has no control anymore. The only thing we can do is wait and pay the bills, pay the bill, pay the bill,” he continued.

“As mentioned, several different Integrity Commissioners follow their own rules.

“And that’s something the ministry needs to adjust so that everyone is in the same boat,” he added.

“I know I’m not supposed to condone violence, but believe me, it’s a lot less painful to get punched in the face than to have multiple allegations like that. Do it the old fashioned way,” concluded the mayor. “I’m sorry. If anything, these numbers will be educational for the public and educational for councilors who come in.”

Jessica C. Bell