The Village of Westport Council had an initial review of the 2016 Budget on November 23 at a Special Committee of the Whole Meeting. A Public Meeting to discuss the budget was also held on November 23rd. No member of the public attended the public meeting, although there were several community members at the Committee of the Whole.
On Monday, December 14 at 2:00 p.m., Council will be reviewing the preliminary draft budget at a Special Committee of the Whole Meeting. Another opportunity for public input will occur at a Public Meeting from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. on December 14th. Copies of the preliminary draft budget will be available by 2:00 p.m. December 11th at Town Hall or on-line.
Obviously, no decisions have been made on the 2016 budget. The process of establishing a municipal budget is slow and methodical. For you to have a full understanding of what is being discussed, you are invited to listen to all Council discussions and debates during the Special or Regular meetings. Dates and times of meetings are on the Village web site.
It has been 6 months since the new Council began its term and I was sworn in as your Mayor. The new Committees of Council were established in February and by March meetings were taking place. Many residents of Westport are members of the committees and I expect amazing things to occur with their valued input and efforts. The Committee of the Whole is a new monthly meeting of Council, a little less formal than Council meetings and is generally the 4th Tuesday and yes, it is open to the public.
In regard to the waste water plant, I am happy to report that we did not need to transport any effluent this year. Although we had a winter of freezing nozzles and pipe breaks, we processed enough effluent that our lagoon levels were lower this spring than in 2014. We monitored the lagoon levels daily and had a contingency plan in place to transport effluent if the lagoon levels rose beyond predetermined levels during the winter. We are in the process of getting the summer application equipment set up and will be operating under a Ministry of the Environment Emergency Order again this year to lower the lagoons to where they need to be for next winter.
The Village is also moving forward in providing a climate-proof, dependable waste water system and one that will allow growth for the Village. The first step is a process called a Municipal Environment Assessment (MEA). This is a prescriptive process, which is led by an Engineering firm with the assistance of a technical steering committee, which includes several Village residents. The Project Coordinator reports to Council on the progress of the MEA at each Council meeting this year. Please consider joining us at Council meetings to hear what is being proposed.
Council worked with a consultant this winter and spring to develop a Village Strategic Plan, a first for Westport. Many members of the business community and public were interviewed by the consultant for their input. A strategic plan helps Council prioritize its goals in line with the budget. The final plan will be shared with Council at the Committee of the Whole meeting on June 23 at 7:00 p.m.
Winter turned into spring slowly this year so our “Pulling Together in Westport” spring clean up was held on Saturday, May 9th. Over 40 community members volunteered their time, effort and rakes to get the Village ready for the May long week-end and summer. Thank you to everyone who helped out. Watch for this to repeat in 2016.
Recently, village residents Bob Scott and Mark Herlehy approached me with a proposal to help the arena. They had done a review of repairs and improvements that need to be done. The “wish list” was well thought out, however as the Village has many other pressures, there is only a small amount of money set aside in the budget for repairs to the community centre. And this is when Bob and Mark offered their suggestion, which I accepted!
Those now using the facility or who have fond memories of time spent on the ice or in the stands might consider becoming a “Friend of the Arena” by making a donation. Donations made to the Village of Westport for arena improvements qualify as gifts for income tax purposes and the Village would issue receipts. All donations will only be used for this purpose. For further information contact Mark Herlehy at firstname.lastname@example.org. or Frank Huth at email@example.com.
I hope you enjoy a long, hot summer and that you spend time with loved ones. As always, if you have any questions, please contact a Councillor or myself.
Congratulations to all of the candidates who ran in our municipal election. Regardless of the outcome, putting your name forward for public office takes courage and commitment. Jackalyn, Frank, Mark and Gerald – I am looking forward to working with you for the next 4 years.
Thank you to all the people who supported my candidacy for mayor and in particular, Sarah Bonner and Neil Scott for their efforts and creativity. I owe my deep gratitude to the Robin4Mayor team, Kim Bonner, Glenn Allen and Frances Hazell, who worked tirelessly with me since July.
Here’s to facing the challenges ahead – with integrity, transparency and accountability.