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Saturday October 25 2014
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2014-02-05 at 23:37

Slight drop

Mayor Keith Hobbs speaks during budget meetings Wednesday night.
Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
Mayor Keith Hobbs speaks during budget meetings Wednesday night.
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By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

The mayor and a councillor high-fived after dropping the city's proposed budget by $80,000.

City budget deliberations continued Wednesday night when an $80,000 development services proposal to hire a consultant caught the eye of councillors. The consultant would study whether the city should look into development charges. While Thunder Bay has never had them, which several councillors said was a point of pride, development charges can generate millions of dollars in revenues for some cities development services manager Mark Smith said.

Some charge thousands of dollars per lot for development, which can be used for specific services or are only charged in certain areas. But city administration doesn't have the expertise to study the situation.

"We need to hire a consultant to help us with this," Smith said.

Coun. Aldo Ruberto said seeing what other municipalities do, development charges could help pay for things like firehalls, libraries or enhance areas of the city.

"Right now we don’t ask a lot of our developers quite frankly compared to other cities,” he said.

Coun. Andrew Foulds and Coun. Paul Pugh said they didn't know one way or the other if the charge was a good idea, which is why they supported the study.

"I’m not an expert on it and because I'm not, I wouldn’t mind hearing from an expert on it,” Pugh said.

But other councillors disagreed or were caught off guard wondering whether they even agreed philosophically that the city should have development charges. Coun. Rebecca Johnson asked whether city staff could call other cities or network at conferences to look into the idea.

Coun. Trevor Giertuga said if development charges were implemented, that money would just hit consumers. The city might as well just raise the cost of building permits by $10,000 instead.

"You're just throwing more money on the person building the house," he said.

Smith said the direction to look into development charges was approved in the city's strategic plan.

"To have an informed philosophical discussion we need to have a consultant,” Smith said.   

The $80,000 was from a previous budget. Coun. Joe Virdiramo said he was frustrated that council was even discussing the money since it didn't impact the budget anyway.

"What's the point?" he asked.

Coun. Brian Mckinnon proposed an amendment, which passed, that removed the study. Coun. Trevor Giertuga then proposed an amendment that would take the $80,000 and put it towards reducing the overall 2014 budget, which passed and prompted the high-five between McKinnon and mayor Keith Hobbs.

Several other cuts were proposed but ultimately defeated.

Johnson wanted to take more than $40,000 out of the parks department for help with urban forestry an added security for Chippewa Park.

Parks manager Paul Fayrick said that $20,800 was needed for someone to answer between 8,000 and 9,000 calls urban forestry has been getting about nuisance trees, which is tying up staff's ability to actually go out and do the work that's needed.

"It’s a ridiculous amount of answering calls related to tree issues,” he said.

Around $20,600 would go to security at Chippewa Park when staff aren't there. Coun. Linda Rydholm said that the park and its campground should be able to pay for that.

"I don’t think that this is something should be subsidized," she said. "I would hope next year we wouldn't see that amount."

Councillors voted to keep that money in the budget but the issue of staffing, which the city will see 20 new full-time equivalent positions this year, caught the attention of Coun. Mark Bentz. He said he was pleased to see that eight of those positions are fully funded from elsewhere but the issue needs to be addressed when budget meetings continue next week.

"We do have an issues where there are staffing expansions here,” he said.”There's always going to be a great reason why we need to hire new people.”

Tbnewswatch.com(13)

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Comments

We've improved our comment system.
Cletus Van Damme says:
Perhaps it's time to hire a consultant to determine if consultants are worth hiring.

2/6/2014 6:06:48 AM
Tbaylifer 1 says:
To save another 80,000 dollars, remove that from the transit art budget and put the old refurbished bus they have, out in front of the terminal and cover it with a clear plastic shelter for 1 or 2 thousand dollars. We will save money and achieve the mandate of beautification. Done.
2/6/2014 6:33:06 AM
Ozone says:
More studies on how to tax the heck out of people and developers who build Thunder Bay. Aldo you really don't understand this town or it's citizens. You can't keep " Carpeing" their wallets! Stick with the animal control issues tat you are fond of continually raising at council.



More southern Ontario firms hired for studies? What do we pay city staff for again ?
2/6/2014 7:48:09 AM
nvjgu says:
80k lol.
2/6/2014 8:13:00 AM
SomeGuy says:
Your praising yourselves for knocking off 0.05% of the budget? Come on, lets only high five for anything above 1%.
2/6/2014 8:14:29 AM
BlueJay12 says:
Excellent job, vote them all back!!!
2/6/2014 8:25:47 AM
YellowSnow13 says:
8000 to 9000 calls about urban forests. Why doesn't the city get their crack IT staff to update a website and have everything go through them. If it's not in the system via the web site, it doesn't get into the system to be fixed. That way if 10 people call about the same thing, the web site will handle it. All you need is somebody to review the report and the address and plan the work. Life becomes simple. And for the people that want to talk to somebody. If you want money from the gov. for school, OSAP, you can ONLY get it on-line. Why can't this be done here?
2/6/2014 8:35:31 AM
Papercut says:
I will be High-Fiving when these guys cut $8 million from their dream budget!



2/6/2014 9:14:29 AM
CM Punk says:
WOW!

$80,000.00 dollars.

Somebody call the Keystone cops. And this is news worthy?

2/6/2014 10:50:53 AM
SBJforever says:
At sometime since change of power at Parks dept the campground area has has undergone a transformation whereby it no longer has a contract to oversee this operation but instead now employees summer students till 9pm at the campgrounds and security staff in the overnight hours? This cannot be a well run system as no accountability to parks this erosion of services can only serve to create problems and eventually lead to the end of the park as i see it? Continued bad press to wildlife exhibit and deteriorated rides shows me the end is near! Move the carousel to Marina park to save it and sell Chippewa TFOC have had twelve years trying to revive the park its time they gave in at let it go for this im sorry to say will be a sad day for them but time to move on,maybe join with those trying to revitalize the art gallery and the conservatory at relocate all three pieces to phase two of the water front revitalization.
2/6/2014 6:14:23 PM
Tbaylifer 1 says:
To save another 80 thousand. Cut it from the transit art budget and put the old restored bus that's inside the terminal out in front under a clear plastic shellter. That's art.



2/6/2014 6:42:23 PM
unknowncronik says:
Extend 2 metal beams from the old bus that flash the story of buses in the area, all in morse code....
2/6/2014 7:15:08 PM
whatelseisnew says:
I think the citizens will be "High-5ing" if all of members of council miraculously disappeared. They will quickly burn this saved money on a pyramid scheme or something shiny and 100% useless.
2/7/2014 1:00:00 PM
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