Erin council moves meetings to Thursdays, reviews 2020 financial statements

ERIN – Council here has approved its meeting schedule for 2022, the most notable change being council meetings will be held on Thursdays instead of Tuesdays.

On Nov. 3 town clerk Lisa Campion presented a report on recommended changes to the town’s current procedural bylaw regarding council meetings.

The current bylaw states meetings will be held on the first and third Tuesday of every month at 1pm and 6:30pm.

Campion’s report recommended amendments, to take effect Dec. 31, including moving all council meetings to the second and fourth Thursdays of the month at 3pm.

She explained the change will allow council more time to review agendas, avoid interference with statutory holidays and provide the town with an estimated maximum cost savings of $13,500.

“Not only will this change create more consistency with respect to scheduling, but it will also provide more staff time to finalize reports during holiday seasons, result in cost savings to our residents, and provide more work-life balance for members of council and staff,” the report stated.

Asked to clarify the savings, town spokesperson Lavina Dixit told the Advertiser it comes down to staff time.

“Evening hours result in extra staff time (overtime) – that is over and above their scheduled work hours,” Dixit stated in an email.

“However, by scheduling the meetings at 3pm, which is within the regularly scheduled time, the town can save up to $13,500.”

Staff also proposed an amendment to the town’s meeting curfew which would have council adjourn at 7pm for meetings that start at 3pm if still in session at that time “unless otherwise determined by a resolution of council passed unanimously among the members present,” and provided the session isn’t extended more than one hour.

In addition, the current bylaw notes the inaugural meeting of council must be held on the first Tuesday in December.

Staff proposed an amendment allowing the inaugural meeting to be held after Nov. 15 “as determined by the clerk in the location determined by the clerk.”

The report noted the amendment would allow the meeting to be held earlier than Dec. 1, giving council an opportunity to begin business earlier.

The flexibility of location will also allow staff to consider capacity requirements and technological requirements when planning for the meeting.

The report also noted, as per the bylaw, council can pass a resolution at any meeting to change the date and time of a meeting. The mayor can call a special council meeting at any time, and should there be insufficient business, staff can cancel a meeting.

Council approved the 2022 schedule in a unanimous vote, authorizing the recommended bylaw amendments.

2020 financial statements

Erin council also approved draft financial statements ending Dec. 31, 2020 and directed staff to circulate and post copies of the statements on the town’s website.

During the meeting, council reviewed the report prepared by BDO Canada LLP, the town’s appointed auditors.

The town’s financial assets were valued at $30,362,518 in 2020, up significantly from $13,984,611 in 2019.

The town’s capital assets for the end of year net carrying amount were valued at $49,891,029 in 2020, up slightly from $49,118,325 in 2019.

Long-term liabilities are $3,271,820, down slightly from $3,603,852 in 2019. The town’s debt payment will be $339,952 in 2021 and $1,258,268 in 2022.

The 2020 reserve funds stood at $953,112, down from $1,029,656 in 2019. The 2020 reserves were at $10,505,068, up nearly $2 million from 2019.

The report from the auditor noted the town took on new debt of $1.5 million in 2020 for the Station Street dam and bridge from the Ontario Infrastructure and Lands Corporation. Repayment terms will be determined upon completion of the project.

The statement also addressed uncertainty relating to the pandemic, noting as the impacts of COVID-19 continue, there could be further impact on the town that could affect “the timing and amounts received on the town’s assets and future ability to deliver services and projects.

“Given the dynamic nature of these circumstances, and the duration of disruption, the related financial impact cannot be reasonably estimated at this time.”