Issue papers educate new council

By Cecilia Nasmith

Each year, Northumberland County councillors are presented with issue papers at budget time to spotlight concerns that will have an impact.

For the 2019 budget, the issue papers were also an educational opportunity for new councillors as they prepare to debate and vote early in the new year.

Each category was introduced with a Fast Facts page that describes the work of that department and some relevant numbers. For transportation, for example, the budget provides for road and bridge rehabilitation, winter control, road maintenance, tree and brush removal, fleet management, roadside safety and storm-water management.

The department has 70 vehicles and 45 pieces of large equipment (such as graders and loaders). On county roads, there are 5,000 traffic signs, 36 traffic signals and 63 street signs. There are 503 km. of county roads, with 12 to 15 km. paved each year. There are 175 km. of bike lanes (or at least paved shoulders), 45 bridges, 68 culverts in excess of three metres and four roads depots.

The two 2019 issues in this department are equipment replacements and a transportation funding strategy.

Four pieces of equipment should be replaced, treasurer Glenn Dees said – a tandem combination snow plow, a three-quarter-ton crew cab, a loader and a 10-ton trailer. The financial impact is estimated at $575,000.

The transportation funding strategy takes into account such plans as increasing the annual paving length to 20 km. and work on the Trent River bridge in Campbellford. Dees estimated the financial impact of these plans at $300,000.

The recycling-and-waste department provides for landfill and waste-transfer station operation, curbside collection of garbage, recycling and yard waste, recycling processing and disposal of e-waste and hazardous household waste.

It has one operational landfill site, six closed landfill sites that require perpetual care and environmental oversight, two waste-transfer stations, one material-recycling plant and 30 pieces of mobile equipment. It provides more than 39,000 curbside waste-collection stops each week. Of the waste collected in a year, 46,286 tonnes are managed, 27,383 tonnes are landfilled, 15,955 tonnes are processed at the Material Recovery Facility in Grafton, and 18,903 tonnes are diverted.

The two 2019 issues in this department are equipment replacements and changes to organizational structure.

Replacements or repair are contemplated for a skidsteer, a loader and the roof of the MRF. The estimated budget impact is $385,000.

The September shift to a two-stream recycling program plus green-bin collection of organic materials largely accounts for the second issue. Summer students will educate the public and distribute the green, gray and blue collection bins, while a three-month position for an administrative assistant will allow someone to manage the increased call-and-enquiry volumes the change will occasion. The budget impact is estimated at $55,000.

Port Hope Councillor Bob Sanderson pointed out that the budget impact of equipment replacements might well be offset – favourably – by trade-in allowances on equipment being replaced.

The facilities department provides for repairs and maintenance of county buildings, infrastructure and grounds maintenance, construction-project management and development of long-term capital plans.

It includes six paramedic bases, three replacement emergency bases to be constructed, one long-term-care facility redevelopment project, three corporate buildings, one material-recycling facility, four roads depots, one agrifood plant, 14 social-housing buildings and 344 housing units (300 apartments and 44 townhouse units). The department processes about 2,800 maintenance work orders each year.

The two 2019 issues in this department are equipment replacements and corporate-building work.

The equipment replacement is a half-ton pick-up truck, and the financial impact is estimated at $45,000.

The work needed is to the courthouse building at 860 William St., Cobourg. The financial impact of the accessibility and safety renovations is an estimated $46,000.

The community and social-services department provides for mandatory program delivery in employment, financial and homelessness supports, services for children, youth and seniors, social and affordable housing and food security,

The Golden Plough Lodge provides for resident care in accommodation, hospitality and health services in operating the municipal long-term-care facility. With 151 residents, more than 200 full- and part-time staffers in a typical year provide more than 165,000 dietary services, process 4,000 maintenance requests and do 70,000 lb. of laundry.

A major redevelopment of this facility is in the works, but this year's three challenges are all personnel-related – and all partially funded to lessen the budget impact (primarily by the Central East Local Health Integration Network).

Hours for an evening ward clerk are to be increased, providing enhanced evening reception to residents and families, with a $3,200 impact this year,

An additional full-time evening RN position is being created in recognition of existing resident-care needs, with a $14,000 impact this year. For the same reason, an additional part-time evening RN position is being created, with a $33,750 impact this year.

Northumberland Paramedics provide for land-ambulance deployment, emergency medical care, patient transportation, ambulance and equipment maintenance, medical supplies and inventory management, and patient documentation.

The 104 full- and part-time personnel in this department respond to about 12,200 annual emergency calls with patient transport, about 80% of which involve people aged 60 and older, with a fleet of 13 ambulances and four emergency-response vehicles at six bases. Their territory covers 2,000 sq. km. Of land mass and includes a significant stretch of Highway 401.

Five issues were identified in this department, starting with the lack of a generator at the Port Hope base – a $25,000 impact. As well, for the Cobourg base, a scissor lift is needed because it has an upper floor that is used for storage – a $28,815 impact, given provincial funding available.

Two personnel issue were identified, including changing from a 52-52 full-time-part-time split to 56 full-time and 48 part-time position. Initially, the budget impact is $3,400. As well, one full-time superintendent float position will be established, with an initial budget impact of $9,600.

An emergency-response vehicle trial is taking place to improve response times in the face of increasing rural-response requirements. The pilot project, running from May to October, creates a $47,220 (given government funding available).

Finance-and-procurement provides for finance, procurement, risk-management and court services, including financial reporting, budgeting asset management, investments, contract and legal-claims management, internal controls and reporting to the province.

Some $58-million in financial assets are managed, as well as more than 1,800 capital assets. The department processes more than 26,000 invoices for payment each year and issues about 50 tenders and requests-for-proposal. The department includes the provincial-offences court to handle matters not falling under the Criminal Code (like traffic tickets). About 12,000 such charges are administered each year, with 2,400 going to trial and 2,500 resolved in meetings with the county prosecutor.

Further provincial downloads to the provincial-offences system provide the department's one issue – the need for a paralegal to be hired as municipal prosecutor in addition to the one now on staff. This brings a $62,804 impact.

Economic development-planning-tourism provides for economic development, tourism, land-use planning and inspection services (including county Official Plan and plumbing and septic inspections), as well as business investment, attraction and retention through such programs as the Business and Entrepreneurship Centre and the Ontario Agri-Food Venture Centre.

The BECN alone helps more than 8,400 clients each year, provides more than 240 consultations, assists 80 business start-ups and 20 business expansions and creates 100 jobs. Its first entrepreneurship conference this year was attended by 116.

More than 2,500 on-site plumbing and septic inspections take place during a year, with permits accounting for more than $400,000 in revenue.

Their one issue this year is an employment-lands study that should take three years and, in 2019 alone, should have a $31,250 budget impact.

Corporate services provides for human-resources, emergency-planning, health-and-safety, accessibility, archives-and-records and forest-management services, including staff recruitment, payroll and benefits administration, training and development, contract negotiation, public meetings (along with minutes and records retention) and forest-and-trail management.

The forest responsibility covers 5,424 acres of multi-use forest with 113 km. of seasonal trails. As for personnel, they receive 1,500 resumes a year and handle 122 recruitments. Staffing to 586 full- and part-time county employees and 403 full-time-equivalent staff represented by six unions.

The department has seven issues to consider, including $10,000 to begin recording and streaming council meetings and $7,000 to begin a reserve to fund formal integrity-commissioner investigations. Other reserves they hope to start include one to fund extraordinary forestry-maintenance costs (a $10,000 impact) and one to fund an annual forestry-service public event ($8,000).

A summer student to help the customer-service representative staff would provide better coverage and present a $15,300 impact – the same impact as the additional summer student they would like for their forestry service.

Finally, an unsatisfactory status quo at the archives could be addressed with archival-collections software, a $15,000 impact.

Information technology provides strategic technology leadership, help-desk and technical support, tech innovation, plus IT security and infrastructure-management services.

Their eight staff (2.5 of whom are dedicated to shared-service support) administer four shared-service contracts for county IT support in 40 support locations for 650 support users. They pursued 76 IT projects last year and have 600 computing devices.

They report six issues, including plans for two technology-infrastructure reserves – one to address on-going replacement costs, and one to smooth annual budget requirements and create flexibility for future years – totaling a $70,500 impact.

Various infrastructure upgrades add up to a $105,000 impact, and a network capacity-redundancy upgrade is a $37,200 item.

Three personnel issues were reported, starting with the need for an IT service-desk analyst (a $38,343 impact), as well as two technical-support analysts – one in support of Cobourg Police Services and one in support of Port Hope services. With cost-recovery arrangements, these would create an impact of $28,564 and $15,841 respectively