Retirement payouts to firefighters enough to make you sick


city_scope_logo-cmykYou have to look very, very carefully to find this gem in last Monday’s council agenda.
We’ll help you out. It’s on Page 65. A warning from the city’s director of finance, David Aristone.
“The various reserve balance are adequate in the short term,” advised Aristone in his 2016 year-end update to council. “However, for the longer term, the city is financially exposed in the following areas.
Aristone lists four areas with the final being “future retirement payouts for the fire department.”
No amount is listed, but we confirmed with human resources director Graham Dart the amount at the end of 2016 was approximately $1.3 million.
A tidy sum, that. And what is the $1.3 million earmarked for?

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New purchases will enable St. Thomas firefighters to deliver ‘a better service,’ says chief


An investment in “the next step in tools” and a consolidation of vehicles in the fleet will allow firefighters to “deliver a better service to the community,” advises St. Thomas Fire Chief Rob Broadbent.
Delivery of next generation portable extrication tools last week and city council’s authorization Monday to purchase a new rescue vehicle gives his crews a capability not experienced in the past, adds Broadbent. Continue reading

Paying back a gift of kindness


The Christmas of 1955 was shaping up to be a little on the lean side, recalled JoAnne De Wilde on Tuesday morning at the main fire hall in St. Thomas.
She had written down her recollection of what would, instead, become a memorable Christmas morning at the family home in Fingal and presented the note to St. Thomas Fire Chief Rob Broadbent. Continue reading

Health care system is not broken, but there is waste – Paul Collins


city_scope_logo-cmykIn a lengthy interview on Paul Collins‘ penultimate day as president and CEO at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital, he dwelt on the Great

Expansion, the facility’s designation as a regional stroke centre and a greater role for STEGH as a regional player.

We’ll pick up this week with the suggestion the health care model in this province is broken.

“I don’t think the system is broken,” asserted Collins. “But I think there are some elements of the system we need to be paying attention to. How does the aging population affect this hospital. We talk about alternate levels of care. These are folks who come to the hospital because they need care, but then when it’s time to be discharged, the question where is the safest place for them to be discharged to – long-term care, in their own home or a nursing home? Continue reading

After eight years, where might the money be?


city_scope_logo-cmykComing up to three months since both sides in the Sutherland saga faced each other again at the Elgin County Courthouse. On May 27, city staff and Toronto owner David McGee – along with their legal counsel – left the fate of the 103-year-old Sutherland Press building in the hands of Justice Gorman.

Have we waited an inordinate amount of time for a decision?

Not really, suggests McGee’s lawyer Valerie M’Garry. There is a lot of supporting documents to digest she notes.

“Stacked together they would be a foot-and-a-half high,” M’Garry points out, “so for her (Justice Gorman) to go through them all, which I think she would want to do for whatever decision she is going to render.”

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Council not unanimous in approving 3.55% tax levy hike for 2015


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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

What didn’t make the grade is the real story


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The real insight come budget time is not the capital projects that receive council’s stamp of approval, it’s the myriad items that fail to pass muster.
There’s the true indication of how well departments are heeding calls from treasurer Bill Day to haul in the reins.
Here are some gems gleaned from the 2014 Part 1 capital budget that remain in limbo.
How about $400,000 for a baseball practice facility at the Centennial Sports Complex.
Then there’s the $600,000 skateboard park, $102,000 of which would be funded by ratepayers.
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