Council Reports: January 29 & February 6, 2007

January 29, 2007
Committee of the Whole Meeting: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Regular Evening Meeting: 7:00 p.m. – 8:06 p.m.
All members of Council present.

CONFIDENTIAL / CLOSED SESSION: 3:49 p.m. – 4:59 p.m.

COUNTING TINY: Population numbers in Tiny are problematic given the split between permanent and seasonal residents. Official reports use different numbers. For most purposes MPAC’s numbers are helpful – 8,371 households (of which 4,497 are seasonal) and 13,521 properties. The average number of residents per household as calculated for the municipality’s Development Charges study is 3.05.

HIGH SPEED FOR MEMBERS OF COUNCIL: The municipality is to provide a high speed internet connection, including installation and activation, for each member of Council and pay 50% of the monthly fee incurred up to 500 kpbs (or 1,000 kpbs if that should prove necessary), but all hardware remains the property of the Municipality and is to be returned when the individual is no longer a member of Council.

2006 MUNICIPAL ELECTION REPORT: After the Municipal Election in the fall, the Federation of Tiny Township Shoreline Associations submitted a “Report on 2006 Election” to the Council of Tiny Township, commending the decision to stay with Voting by Mail, praising staff for their efficiency on Election Day, and suggesting a few changes that might improve the next election. In the following list, the changes that the Federation recommended appear in bold, followed by staff’s response:

1) Improve the Voters’ List by distributing a Voter Information Sheet to every address in the Township several months before the next election. In spite of the need for many changes in the weeks leading up to the election (2,226 electors were added to the Voters’ List, 1,463 were deleted and 14,001 entries were modified), the staff report opposed this suggestion.

2) Make more vigorous use of the Township website to emphasize key dates and to let people know about unexpected problems with the electoral process, and use the banner headline to announce the results on election night. “For the next election, consideration will also be given to populating the website with additional information as required. In response to the ‘banner headline’, due to technical reasons, this option was not available to us on Election Day, but we will pursue it for the next election.”

3) Keep the Township Office open for a number of hours on Saturdays during the election period so that those at a distance from Tiny during the work week can get problems can be dealt with. “Consideration will be given to having the municipal office open for one or two Saturdays….”

4) Make changes to the Vote-By-Mail Packages as unclear instructions resulted in many invalid votes. (Much the most serious problem with the election was the high number of spoiled ballots – some 1,218. Of these 1,040 failed to include a Voter Declaration form, 22 mailed only the declaration form, 3 sent blank envelopes, 132 included, but did not sign, the Voter Declaration form, and 21 were rejected for old-fashioned reasons such as putting marks on the ballot that identified the voter. Fortunately, the outcome of the election would not have been affected, even had all 1,218 voted for candidates other than those elected.) And the staff report? “Staff has made the election suppliers (Datafix and Dominion Voting Systems) aware of the difficulties encountered by the electors (i.e. simplifying the voter kit instructions, more emphasis on the requirement to sign the Voter Declaration Form, etc).”

5) Collect poll-by-poll information about voting patterns as was done in elections prior to this one. Staff reported that this option was not available with the company used to manage the election, but did not mention the possibility of gathering this information themselves, as was done in the past, by organizing and counting the votes by poll.

6) Supply an official, secure, well-advertised drop box at the Township Offices so that votes can be dropped off during evenings and weekends. “Consideration will be given to amending the Vote By Mail procedures to include the Township drop box as an official place to deposit the ballot packages.”

Additional interesting information in the staff report on the elections:

Total number of electors – 19,491
Voter turnout – 34%
Non-resident turnout 28.2%
Resident turnout 42.5%
Total tabulated ballots 6,623
Total spoiled ballots 1,218
Council received the Report, and presumably will revisit it when setting policies for the next election.

COUNTY’S BUDGET UP BY 4.75%: Mayor Breckenridge and Deputy Mayor Lawrence reported that they were among the few to question the proposed County budget. Mayor Breckenridge, for example, queried County’s staff’s use of the non-residential construction index as justification for the budget increase, given that 67.45% of the County’s budget goes to soft services. The Mayor and Deputy Mayor had some support in voting against the budget, but not enough. The weighted vote was 68 in favour, 38 against. (On a weighted vote, each of the 16 municipalities represented on County Council is assigned points. For example, only one municipality is assigned 14 points. Tiny and two other municipalities have the next highest number at 10 points each, while Penetanguishene gets only 4.)

COUNTY WORKSHOP ON WASTE MANAGEMENT (INCLUDING SITE 41): County staff is to present a day-long workshop in March or April on waste management issues to bring new members of County Council up to speed. Deputy Mayor Lawrence asked (and was granted) that this include a business case for the proposed Site 41 dumpsite as compared to other methods of handling the same volume of waste and also that the workshop on Site 41 include Tiny Township representatives. Deputy Mayor Lawrence also intends to ask that the costing of alternative methods of waste management include the cost of monitoring closed landfill sites.

AIRPORT COMMISSION: Councillors George Cornell and Nigel Warren represent Tiny Township on the Commission. At their first meeting, they learned that financials have finally been prepared and that a Request for Proposal for a Business Plan for the Airport had been sent out. On learning this, Tiny’s Council decided to pay the Township’s long-withheld share of the operating cost of the Airport for 2006.
February 6, 2007
Special Committee of the Whole Meeting: 9:05 a.m. – 5:05 p.m.
All members of Council present.

Council discussed various aspects of the 2007 Operating Budget.