New employees — development charges rising — old bridge a concern

Article by Valerie MacDonald

Northumberland County is adding a few new employees to its staff positions.

Councillors passed a motion that will upgrade the part-time building superintendent’s position to a full-time one, plus by next year there be another full-time HVAC technician, full-time plumber and senior technician. This is the equivalent of 3.5 new positions in total.

Currently, there are 9.5 full-time positions in the County’s facilities division.

Discussions about increasing paid staff followed a staff report at public works and were repeated again before the entire council. A consultant’s study advised the County to add more new positions and hours of work to maintain County facilities. The size of these facilities are anticipated to grow to about 630,000 square feet by 2025 from 400,000 in 2010, according to the staff report and verbal presentation.

The staff’s report projected a net savings of $440,000 over a ten-year period for “additional staffing (contract) and associated costs.”

Port Hope Mayor Bob Sanderson said he appreciated that the staff report was not as costly as the consultant’s recommendation and noted that at this time “the labour market” is very tight.

Hamilton Township Mayor Bill Cane said he agreed with Deputy Warden and Cramahe Mayor Mandy Martin, and said that the County “should move forward with this and to try and find the people” the sooner the better.

Brighton Mayor Brian Ostrander said he concurred with County Councillor Sanderson that the matter be “bookmarked” to be discussed at budget time.  While the hirings are equal to .15 of one mill rate on the budget, 10 such equal increases adds a full 1% increase to the mill rate, Ostrander said.

In other County decisions, a bylaw was passed increasing the development charges on new residential builds by about $300 to $3,259. The decision was made after discussions with, and a letter from, the Northumberland Builders and Construction Association (NBACA) Inc. which stated in part: “ NBACA members are concerned about the following issues;

1. The implementation (of the first development charges) were less than a year ago;

2. The focus of development charges – to pay for future development required as a result of expansion, not as a revenue stream for an existing project; 

3. Impact on stakeholders / residential housing affordability.

The association also noted that typically charges are updated only every five years.

The County’s finance director Glenn Dees told councillors that other municipalities are updating development charges more frequently with the passage of legislation permitting this – but Councillor Sanderson said doing so “doesn’t look great.”

County Councillor and Hamilton Township Mayor Gail Latchford asked that a reply be sent to the NBACA’s correspondence and staff are to do that.

And for the first time, a municipality will make a delegation directly to County without first going through the committee system (which was implemented this year).  While work on the Thompson Bridge in Trent Hills has been discussed at the County’s public work’s committee (as it relates to works required, long-term life and onsite remediation which discovered the deterioration is more significant than originally expected), the Municipality of Trent Hills has asked to be a delegation at the County level.

Some of the issues surrounding a permanent closure of the bridge have been made to the public works committee already including a focus on the problems this will cause farmers, as well as safety issues when motorists are forced to use other roadways.

Warden and Trent Hills Mayor Bob Crate did not take part in the decision to allow his municipality delegation status at the Sept. 15 meeting but at the public works committee, he noted some concerns related to agriculture and closing the bridge.


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