Greater Napanee council will vote on whether or not to rescind the Declaration of Authority at their next virtual meeting on July 21.
Councillor Terry Richardson made the notice of motion during council’s last meeting, held June 23 and broadcast on the town’s YouTube channel. At their next meeting they’ll formally vote as to whether or not they’ll lift the Delegation of Authority By-law they put forward on March 19, which essentially transferred power to town staff to continue to operate during the emergency without needing approval from council, but while still adhering to strict spelled out limitations.
“When we entered into the Delegation of Authority back in March I believe it was, there was a lot of uncertainty with respect to how we were going to do things if we can’t have a meeting,” said Richardson. “We now have the ability to have meetings, we have the ability to have closed session meetings….we’re doing what we should be doing anyways so I really think it’s sort of a redundant thing at this point.”
When first enacted, council was unsure as to whether or not they’d be able to continue to have meetings. Since that time they’ve held regular meetings every second week via Zoom and broadcast on YouTube with little in the way of technical difficulties.
“We can meet, we are accessible, one of our councillors is a few hundred miles north of us and still here at our meetings,” said councillor Bob Norrie, who seconded the motion. “I think it’s time that we as a council get back to our full time job of looking after everything and working with staff together.”
Greater Napanee CAO Ray Callery noted lifting the Declaration of Authority fit in with the town’s phased recovery plan as well. The town will however remain under a state of emergency.
Council voted unanimously to accept Richardson’s motion and will officially vote on rescinding the by-law at their next meeting. Once lifted, they still have the power to re-introduce the by-law if a second wave of COVID-19 deems it necessary.
-Town of Greater Napanee finance manager and treasurer Paul Dowbar presented council with a report on some of the ongoing tax sales within the town.
“There were nine properties that needed immediate attention so those were put in to tax sale at the end of 2019,” said Dowbar.
Once the pandemic happened, the Ontario government froze all tax sales. Dowbar says the town was in the process of devising a plan to deal with properties, which were mostly residential but a few commercial and industrial, which had fallen two or three years behind in their taxes.
“This report really speaks to the number of properties that are into the third year of arrears which is 148,” said Dowbar. “If we take into consideration the properties that are in two years, that would add another 64 for a total of 212. We do have a plan going forward as far of how to deal with them but unfortunately we’ve been stalled because of the current situation.”
Once a property is put into tax sale, the town advertising them through the local paper and on the town’s website.
Mayor Marg Isbester made a motion that a report of all upcoming tax sales becomes a regular occurrence going forward.
“I move that within three months of lifting the declaration of emergency that the full report of current and potential tax sales values and amounts owning and status for sale, vesting, etc. be brought forward and from there that it should become a recurring report the second meeting of each month or the only meeting if that should be the case until the end of this term,” said Isbester.
The motion was carrier unanimously.
-Council adapted its 2020 fees for services by-law, which will take effect on July 1.
Among the rates included in the by-law are ice rental fees, community and corporate services fees and emergency services department fees, among others.
“We normally look at our fee schedules each and every year and we look at what all other municipalities around us are doing and compare and we have costs that keep climbing so we have to make sure, we will never be revenue neutral, but we try to make sure we are looking at doing everything that we can to generate revenue for our user fees that are going to be absolutely terrible this year,” said Isbester.
The mayor noted it would be a tough year for families who take part in recreational activities offered through the town.
“I look at will minor hockey be able to get up and going this year? Are people going to be able to afford the rates? I just hope that when this is all said and done, even though we have to try and meet our costs, we also need to serve the public,” said Isbester. “I hope council will remain very cognizant of the fact we need to be kind to people and try and do what we can.”
A full list of the 2020 fees for services can be found at https://greaternapanee.civicweb.net/FileStorage/2BA66ADB7F8E46518FA42C1DE2989976-By-law%20No.%202020-0035%20-%202020%20Fees%20for%20Services.pdf