Councillors sent a clear message to Mayor Joe Preston and city manager Wendell Graves this past Monday.
Push forward with the construction of an 88-space downtown childcare centre in an expedient fashion.
Preston responded as he has in the past, by deflecting.
In his report to council, Graves recommended retendering the project this fall with construction to be completed by the end of next year.
The reason for the delay in going out to tender, advised Graves, is an increase in costs in the neighbourhood of $300,000 when the project was tendered last month.
Putting the cost estimate in the $4.3 million range whereas just over $4 million has been budgeted for the badly needed childcare facility to be located on St. Catharine Street.
“Childcare spaces in our community are desperately needed,” reminded Coun. Lori Baldwin-Sands, “and I believe once we start coming out of COVID a little more rapidly, the people who are going to be requiring the service of daycare is going to be growing exponentially.”
When 41% of municipal employees appearing on the so-called Sunshine List are members of one branch or service, it’s a surefire way to draw the attention – and the ire – of ratepayers who are on the hook.
That was the case in 2016 when 46 of the 113 municipal employees who earned in excess of $100,000 in 2016 were members of the St. Thomas Police Service. That’s a healthy bump up from 31 in 2015.
But every picture tells a story and it wasn’t a healthy amount of overtime or so-called duty pay that pushed those individuals over the $100,000 bar, stressed St. Thomas Police Chief Darryl Pinnell, it is the reality base salaries for first-class constables are already hovering around that benchmark.
After numerous studies and consulting reports, dithering over decisions and often rancorous debate, the St. Thomas Police Service is just weeks away from moving into their new digs adjacent to the Timken Centre.
At a reference committee meeting Monday afternoon, Chief Darryl Pinnell apprised city council on the status of the new headquarters on CASO Crossing, with a likely move-in date in April or May.
A troubling state of affairs when your water bill payment appears to be the only thing keeping Ascent/St. Thomas Energy afloat.
Of much greater concern is the lack of transparency at city hall and the lack of due diligence on the part of city council.
Let’s start in the finance department where we appear to caught director of finance David Aristone in an awkward moment.
Exactly one year ago, when council dealt with the 2014 consolidated financial statements, that document revealed Ascent Group – 100 per cent owners of St. Thomas Energy – rang up an operating loss of $6.8 million. That compared with a $1.4 million profit in 2013. Continue reading
If you ever feared the love and respect we lavish on our veterans has diminished to any extent, an unfortunate incident Wednesday at city hall should allay any fears the true meaning of Remembrance Day has faded over time.
Prior to the ceremony of remembrance at the Great War Memorial in front of the hospital, the Times-Journal was alerted to the fact flags flying at city hall were not at half-mast, marking the first time ever this tradition has failed to be observed.
When a photo of the flags was posted to our Facebook page, all hell broke loose.
Was this a new direction at city hall or simply an oversight on the part of administration or staff?
“I’m disappointed with the council,” posted Christopher-Raymond Trottier. Continue reading
Couldn’t help but notice this week the Ascent office/workshop on Harper Rd. was not only for sale, but now had a ‘sold’ sign out front.
Seems odd in that the media were invited out to that same location earlier this year to get a first-hand look at the projects undertaken at the former ECM Controls, purchased by St. Thomas Energy in November, 2010.
At that time, ECM Controls employed 10 people who designed and built industrial controls. As shareholder and owner of St. Thomas Holding (the parent company), city council unanimously green-lighted the move, asking no questions nor providing comment on the move.
So what happened in the intervening five years? Continue reading
The frustration was clearly evident in the voice of Pauline Wimbush. “It’s like having a child or a pet that you are neglecting.”
Friday was her “day in court,” so to speak, when she was invited to city hall to present her concerns about living next door to a derelict house at 46 Kains St. — whose owner continues to pay property taxes but resides in Holland.
In attendance were CAO Wendell Graves, chief building inspector Chris Peck, bylaw enforcement officer Rob McDonald and St. Thomas Fire Chief Rob Broadbent.
All sympathized with Wimbush but were in agreement there is no quick fix.
To the chagrin of Wimbush who, due to increasing difficulty navigating stairs in her large home, is anxious to sell and move to a single-storey residence.
By approving its Part 2 capital budget and the 2015 operating budget Monday, city council authorized a property tax levy of $47,040,822 for this year.
That translates to a 3.55% property tax hike in 2015, up slightly from the 3.48% proposed, yet less than the 3.8% tax levy in 2014.
The slight increase from the proposed budget presented last week to council during a public meeting at the St. Thomas Seniors’ Centre is accounted for in additional grant money doled out by council.
In total, $281,146 was distributed to community groups and social agencies in St. Thomas, much of that sum drawn from working reserves.
That figure does not include $250,000 to St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital for its expansion program as part of the city’s 10-year pledge. Continue reading