Hamilton Township council briefs
Nipping postal charges in the bud
Hamilton Township has passed a motion asking Canada Post not to impose any charges in the future when they change rural mail box service to group boxes.
Councillors were responding to a decision by the mail deliverer to charge $200 for each community mail box in new subdivisions, a cost which some fear will be passed on to the consumer from the directly-charged developer.
Councillor Gary Woods said he could see no reason that Canada Post might not attempt to do the same thing along rural roadways in the future – and wanted to try and stop that before it happened.
In a letter dated Oct. 18, Jacques Coté, group president, physical delivery of Canada Post, informed the township that "over the past five years, mail volumes have dropped almost 20% per address, contributing to the corporation's unprecedented financial losses in 2011 and the first half of 2012" and that with 150,000 to 200,000 new addresses being added annually, the developers of community group boxes in "new residential and commercial developments" would now be charged $200 per box.
"There is no financial impact to your municipality as a result of this process change; this letter is simply to inform you of the change in Canada Post's process should you be asked questions from developers."
But the move sparked the motion, passed unanimously, to nip any possible rural charges for community boxes in the bud.
It also led to a discussion about potential address changes taking place in the municipality in the future, without any formal discussions between council and Canada Post, according to Deputy Mayor Isobel Hie.
She did not provide any details but said there should be a meeting.
Mayor Mark Lovshin said that Canada Post had attempted to meet individually with councillors and had met with him and some staff last year, and he asked her to recall that council chose not to meet as a whole with Canada Post at that time.
"I never" refused a meeting, Councillor Donna Cole said.
Lovshin reiterated that that was indeed council's decision at the time and that he understood that the changes now being contemplated were different than those proposed last year.
A spokesperson from Canada Post told this newspaper they would look into the proposed address changes for Hamilton Township and provide information but this had not been done by press time.
Small surplus expected
Hamilton Township’s acting treasurer predicts a small surplus in this year’s budget despite several significant changes in head staff at the township over the year, including people in her own position and that of its chief administrative officer.
After providing an update by department to the end of this past September which showed a $61,652 operating budget surplus and about a million dollar capital budget surplus, Mayor Mark Lovshin asked Barb Goodwin what the end of the year would look like.
“It looks like we’ll be close…a small surplus,” Goodwin replied.
The largest operating budget overage in the 11 township departments at the end of the first three quarters of the year is animal control ($106,955) but this is a timing issue to be adjusted with billing to various member municipalities of the Shelter of Hope.
The next largest area overspent was in parks and recreation primarily due to reduced ice rentals.
This will pick up in November and December, Goodwin told councillors.
Deputy Mayor Isobel Hie said it was to be expected that organizations would want to try the new facility in Cobourg but were now returning to arenas in the township. (There are two: one in Baltimore and another in Bewdley.)
Water services will likely end 2012 with a deficit (it’s currently over by about $70,000) because the water rate revenue increases anticipated during the budget process have not been realized, councillors were informed.
The largest area of surplus was in public works ($154,629) due to several projects not yet being undertaken/expensed and reduced overtime/call outs for winter roadwork, councillors heard.
The highest variance in the $1-million surplus in the township’s capital budget was about $635,023 in roadwork followed by $227,091 in general government but most items will be spent by year’s end or moved into 2013.
Some capital projects, like the Fire Master Plan Organizational Review and the Parks & Recreation Master Plan, plus about $44,400 in live fire training, will be carried into the 2013 budget.
There were some expenses accidentally left out of the 2012 budget due to changes in personnel, but these were modest in total; there were also a few new projects undertaken such as purchasing about $7,000 in new office equipment to accommodate the township’s very tall, new chief administrative officer, John Baird, a fact noted by councillors and staff.