Monday, 29 December 2014

Synergy Spray Park

Today was another great day as Mayor. I was very pleased to meet with the Manager of Synergy Credit Union Kindersley Branch, Barb Derbawka, to receive a cheque for $100,000. The money is for the spray park in Baker Park. Synergy will also be purchasing benches for the park. The park benches are being made by one of the shop classes at Kindersley Composite School. As I said: a great day.
Barb Derbawka presenting a cheque for the Spray Park
A special thanks goes to Councillor Henry for his part in making this happen.

Brookhollow Estates Update

Even though construction has slowed over the Christmas holidays construction progress is being made at Brookhollow Estates. Here are some photos taken over the past weekend.


North Condos of Brookhollow Estates. December 2014.

South Condos of Brookhollow Estates. December 2014
I am not aware of how sales are going.

E&L have poured four basements and work is ongoing.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Moment with the Mayor: A Review of 2014

Hi Neighbours:

It’s hard to believe another year has slipped by. I have to confess that this year has seemed faster than others. This has been a busy year and here is a brief look at the year that was:

·         One of the big things is the construction of new homes in Brookhollow Estates; and the last two lots on Coleman Crescent were sold and now have homes on them.

·         The Kindersley Cemetery has a new structure serving as a ‘quiet place.’

·         Kindersley was featured in the Sask Business Magazine in March.

·         The Town of Kindersley, for the first time, has been invited to SUMA’s City Mayors’ Caucus.

·         Kindersley hosted the second Saskatchewan Municipal Infrastructure Conference.

·         Two budgets were completed in 2015 as we shifted from doing the budget in March/April to November.

·         The pool had to be closed and we are working towards a new pool and complex. (I agree that progress seems too slow).

·         Council adopted a new Official Community Plan and Zoning Bylaw.

·         To welcome newcomers to Kindersley, Welcome Wednesdays was launched.

·         Council passed an Economic Development Tax Incentive.

·         Numerous community groups shared with Council what and why they do what they do, and who they serve.

·         Changes have been made to our recycling program, including closing two collection depot sites and launching curbside collection service.

·         Water rates have increased with a tiered system. Debt payments on water infrastructure exceed $1 million.

·         For the first time in 25 years, the Mobile Home Licensing Fee has been updated.

·         There is now a spray park at the foot of the water tower near the library.

·         Partnering with private business, there is a new lift station under development to serve a new hotel and more growth.

·         A partnership with Holland’s has resulted in the waste water from the backwash of the Haubrich Water Treatment Plant being sold for industrial purposes.

·         Council has incrementally made changes to the Policy Manual and is intent on being a governance-run Council.

·         An infrastructure capacity report has been completed and informed the Asset Management Plan and Long Term Financial Plan (10 years).

·         The Kindersley Health Services Needs Assessment Report is being reviewed.

·         The lights at Ditson and HWY #7 are finally installed and the Town saved more than $1 million.

·         The site of the new regional landfill has been selected and an RFP has been advertised.

·         At our last meeting, Council adopted an Anti-Bullying Bylaw.

These are some of the highlights of the year. Have a Happy New Year!


Please write or phone if you would like me to discuss a particular topic. If you have any questions or comments, drop me a line at the town office or email me at mayorenns-wind@kindersley.ca. You can also check out my blog at http://mayorjohn.blogspot.ca/. I appreciate your feedback.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

The Oil Market: Comments are All Over the Map

The politist thing to say about the oil market is that opinions are very democratic: everyone has one and at this point the "truth is out there." I have been following the prices and the comments because of its obvious effect on Kindersley and our neighbours in the region.

The Economist explains: Why Oil Prices are Falling

The Conventional Wisdom on Oil is Always Wrong.

We've Been Incorrectly Predicting Peak Oil for Over a Century.

Conrad Black's Perspective.

A J.P, Morgan Economist's Thoughts.

How Cheap Oil Changes the World.

Crude Oil Prices

How the US Could Beat OPEC in an Oil Price War.

The Impact on the Railways.

I would be foolish to predict what is going to happen to the oil market. Better informed people than me are unable to agree on trends.

From a municipal perspective what do we need to consider?

  • Our growth plan is based on volumes triggering actions not forecasts.
    • As consumption and use grow certain targets are hit. When a target hits that means we start planning for expansion of the lagoon or the water treatment plant. If the target is not hit then expansion doesn't occur.
  • A healthy community, which is also more economically diverse, means a community that has a quality of life level that attracts residents and retains residents.
    • This is important but it has to be fiscally responsible.
  • The provincial transfers we receive will hold for 2015 but will may have, depends on the length and depth of the oil price fall, will effect our 2016 budget.
    • Provincial transfers are based on the PST and municipalities receive approximately 20% of the PST.
I hope this helps. My perspective is that we not make any knee jerk reactionary decisions realizing that this industry is cyclical. As a result prudence is being proactive keeping the big picture in view as we make the necessary adjustments for the present.

Mobile Home Licensing Fees

The last time the mobile home licensing fees were updated was around 1989 (my notes are not with me). This past November Council passed a resolution updating the fees. The increase is not incremental, as we did for water, but is implemented immediately.

I have spoken in the past of continuous improvement and how it is important that Council demonstrate it is looking for OFIs (opportunities for improvement). The updating of the Mobile Home Licensing fees is an example of an OFI:

  • we passed the changes in one meeting; and
  • no feedback was gained from the affected parties.
The improvements would be to:

  • pass it over two meetings;
  • incremental increase; and
  • call a public meeting.
Currently the Mobile Home owners do not pay property taxes. Property taxes are levied against the landowner and the land is taxed as undeveloped. It is my understanding that the owners/renters of the Mobile Homes pay a fee to the management of the development of $300 per month (this is hearsay and I haven't confirmed this).

The increase in licensing fees results, mostly, in a licensing fee that is less than the minimum tax for home owners in the other parts of Kindersley. The other option available is to have the Mobile Homes assessed by SAMA like the other homes in Kindersley. Should this be done it is reasonable, they would have to pay the Base Tax plus the Infrastructure Levy to expect that their property taxes would be higher than the licensing fees they currently are charged.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Municipal Residency Requirements for Municipal Employees

On December 19th our CAO received this email.

"Good morning Bernie
I have a question for yourself. It is a more personal question and do not expect you to respond politely however this question is something that is  on many residents minds and is something that many residents are bothered by.
As the cao of the town of Kindersley do you not believe you should be required to live in our community? As someone who has as much decision making ability due to the carver system any decision you advise council on will not directly affect you as you don't live  in the community and are not effected by tax increases or how the town spends it's funds.
Do you have intentions of moving to the community in the near future and putting your money ( taxes) where your mouth is?
I know you have been asked this Before however I've never been at the meetings when this has been asked and curious on your response." Name Withheld
This has been an ongoing issue since Mr Morton assumed his responsibilities in 2012 and addressed in length at the Chamber of Commerce Question and Answer meeting in July 2014.

Here are some facts:

  • It is illegal for a municipality to restrict an employee's ability to choose where they live. 
    • The Supreme Court of Canada decision (Godbout v. Longeuil 1997) can be found here in either Word or PDF.
  • Mr Morton and his family were unable to find housing they could afford in Kindersley.
  • Mr Morton and his family live on land owned by his father-in-law and near his children's grandparents.
  • Regarding the decision making of the CAO: 
    • Duties of the CAO are defined in The Municipalities Act 2005 of Saskatchewan in Division 8 Article 110 - 111. You can find the Act here.
    • Here is the Act governing Urban Municipal Administrators.
    • Members of Kindersley's Council are part-time Councillors and Mayor.
      • The role of Council is the "What" and the "Why"; the role of Administration is the "How" and the "When."
  • In the four budgets developed under Mr Morton's leadership, including two in 2014 due to changing the budget cycle, 3 have been at or near the rate of inflation and the other at 5.5%.
    • These increases have been reasonable and within the scope of our planning.
    • Budgets are developed in alignment with the:
      • Growth Plan including the Strategic Plan;
      • Action Plan which is the priorities of Council for the year;
      • Values; and
      • Limit of tax increase.
        • At our last meeting, Council agreed that the Budget Committee would develop a budget policy and further, Administration is taking steps to increase their ability to develop budgets through professional development.
I have to confess that this is the first time since July I have heard this concern about Mr. Morton's residency.



Friday, 19 December 2014

The Mayor of Steckborn Switzerland: Roger Forrer

I had the pleasure Friday to have lunch with the fathers of three of the Swiss players. One of the fathers, who has two sons on the team, is also the Mayor (Bergmesiter) of Steckborn. Steckborn is a community of 4,000 people located on one arm of Lake Constance.

Roger Forrer has been Mayor for almost 4 years and has an election due in the spring of 2015. You can find Roger's website here. Roger's site is in German; the Google translation is awkward.
Bergemeister of Steckborn Roget Forrer and Marcus Descurtains of Switzerland, 12/19/14
 Through a translator, the other father who was lived in Canada as a boy, we had an interesting conversation about our respective roles and how we manage them. Like us they have a Council with 7 members including the Mayor; the Mayor has one vote as a well. Unlike us they have a party system at the municipal level; however, that is changing and the current Council has only three party member of which Roger is one. Roger's party is the SVP or the Swiss People's Party, a populist party.

One of their biggest challenges, like us, is infrastructure and finances. The conversation was very similar to ones I have had with my Saskatchewan Mayoral colleagues with the only difference being the need for a translator. Municipalities in Switzerland are able to carry debt. Currently they have a debt of about 20 million Swiss Franc or CDN $23.6 million ($1 Cdn = 0.85 Swiss Franc on 12/19/14).

We had a good conversation and we share many of the same challenges including working with different community groups.

Thank you Dave Halpenny for the arranging lunch, Barry Maladine for putting up with us, and Marcus Descurtains for translating.

Human Reources: A Response to a Question


"One question to add why is it that we are out sourcing something like job descriptions? That is an unnecessary expense on the tax payers in my opinion and is easily completed by internal employees. In fact the internet has great sources to develop job descriptions internally. I see this as a waste based on the fact in my prior management position I created job descriptions for 30 different position in less than one week while completing my Dailey duties.

What was council decision on this based on and the reasoning for outsourcing this?"

Dear Name Withheld:

Thank you for the question about outsourcing some human resource responsibilities.

The Town of Kindersley is responsible for almost $100 million in assets, an annual budget of around $15 million, safe drinking water and waste and waste water disposal, safety in the community, arts, culture, and recreation services and more to a population of around 5,400. All of this is down with 54 full time employees plus summer students.

What is the Town’s greatest asset? The Haubrich Water Plant? The landfill? The waste water lagoon? The WCEC? The programming? None of these goods and services are the most valuable asset. The Town’s most valuable asset are its employees. It is due to the employees that we have a safe water and safe waste water disposal and waste management, programming, and more.

Our employees work in the public eye and are often under a lot of scrutiny from both the public and provincial and federal regulators. The public looks for some things while the regulators govern virtually everything a municipality does including the certification required by employees including their experience and scope of practise. Training and certification is needed for responsibilities such as:

·         Zamboni,

·         Ice plant,

·         Grader,

·         Bookkeeping and accounting,

·         Emergency services,
 
·          Water plant operations,

·          Water Distribution,
·          Waste Water Collection and Treatment,

·         Landfill operations,

·         Engineering,

·         Planning,

·         Arts and culture programming,

·         Recreation programming,

·         And much more.

 I think fundamentally what we need to discuss is what does an effective organization look like. In the case of the Town it has four departments: Corporate Services, Engineering, Community Services, and Transportation and Environment. Within each department are a variety of units ranging from the production of safe drinking water to scraping the roads to clearing snow, from cleaning floors to managing the inventory of trees for which the Town is responsible, from sending out water bills to aligning the budget with the strategic plan, and there is more. The Town is a serious of systems designed to accomplish its vision.

The vision for the Council of 2012 – 2016 is: “A positively engaged community building an economically and socially vibrant future.” The purpose of the Town is to create “a family friendly, multicultural community that is safe;” an organization that is “approachable, innovative, and fiscally responsible management;” and has a “forward looking approach to recognizing and fostering opportunities, solutions, and wealth creation.” The implementation of the vision and purpose is the responsibility of the Town Employees beginning with the CAO.

Council, back in the spring of 2013, developed a list of 5 priorities we want to focus on including: open communication, financially transparent, strategic growth, reliable infrastructure, and organizational effectiveness. To effectively and efficiently address these priorities is again the responsibility of the Town Employees.

What has been created here is the needs, wants, and goals of the organization. On the other hand are the needs, wants, and goals of Town Employees. The role of human resources is to ensure, as much as is reasonably possible, that the needs, wants, and goals of the both the organization and the employee are in alignment.

The tension between the organization and the employee can be perceived in a couple of ways:

·         Does the organization view employees as passive and lazy who prefer to be led and are resistant to change while management’s purpose is to ensure employees important needs are met while they work?

·         Is management’s task to be directive by creating narrowly defined jobs requiring few skills and little decision making?

Or:

·         How does an organization respond to individual desires for useful work?

·         How well do jobs enable employees to express their skills and sense of self?

·         How well does work fulfill individual financial and life-style needs?

Organizations, in this case, the Town, and employees need each other. When there is no alignment between an organization and employees then both the organization and the employees suffer. In the case of the Town the ramifications of misalignment affects more than 5,000 people. The Town’s most valuable asset is its employees and their skills, attitudes, energy, and commitment are the Town’s intrinsic resources, in conjunction with the skills, attitudes, energy, and commitment of all of Kindersley’s volunteers in all of its sectors, that determines the level of success Kindersley has in creating and maintaining a positively engaged community building an economically and socially vibrant future.

The hiring of a human resource professional is a step towards ensuring that the residents of Kindersley have an effective and efficient organization working for us. We have been working hard to address the infrastructure deficit, to address the challenges at the WCEC, to address the development of Phase 2, to address the delivery of health care services; we also have to work hard to ensure the organization and its employees, our most valuable asset, can have the resources needed to successfully meet the challenges before us.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Saskatchewan is Growing!

The province continues to grow according to Statistics Canada and is now nearly 1,130,000. The data is October 1,2014 and shows that in the previous quarter 4,489 people moved to Saskatchewan and for the year to date more than 18,000. Seven years ago Saskatchewan crossed the 1 million population mark.

Here is what the Premier is reported as saying:

"Since then, we have seen steady growth of another 130,000 people - nearly 20,000 per year," Wall said.  "That kind of growth creates both opportunities and challenges.  One of those challenges will be to keep our economy and our population growing in 2015 in the face of falling oil revenues.  Our government will be working hard to meet this challenge through sound fiscal management, continued investment in important infrastructure projects and tax incentives for new growth and job creation.

"The good news is that Saskatchewan's economy is a lot more diversified than it was just a few years ago, so a slowdown in one sector can be offset by growth in other areas.  That's why we continue to enjoy the strongest rate of job creation and the lowest unemployment rate in the country, in addition to continued population growth."

I agree with what the Premier has to say but would want to add that there needs to be continued investment in both hard infrastructure such as water treatment plants and waste water lagoons and soft infrastructure like arts and recreation facilities. The province also needs to demonstrate appropriate leadership when it comes to district and regional planning. With the equivalent of the third largest city in Saskatchewan moving into the province in the last seven years, there needs to be the corresponding investment and planning.

Likewise with the current instability in the resource sector: this too will pass but reasonable investment needs to be made insuring adequate infrastructure and planning is in place to support both population growth and economic diversification.

Kindersley is working on the infrastructure and will be submitting three submissions to the Build Canada Fund: from the Regional Landfill Inc an application for money to build the landfill and on behalf of the Town two applications of which one is for upgrades to the Haubrich Water Treatment Plant and the replacement of the remaining iron pipes.

Build Canada will not fund arts and recreation funds nor fire halls. We are continuing to to pursue funding options for Phase 2.

The original information was found here.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Moment with the Mayor: "Dear Santa"

A quick note: the Bean isn't publishing the week of the 29th so this column may not be seen in the Bean.

Hi Neighbours:

There we are, my two youngest sons and I sitting in the stands watching Denmark beat Russia, and my youngest grabs my attention and says, “Dad, can we read Santa’s letter to me?” “Of course,” I said! In the stands, with the game going on, my son and I rip open the envelope and read Santa’s letter. It was a good letter but, as I reflected later, I wondered: if Santa delivered gifts to municipalities, what would I ask for? So, here is my Christmas letter to Santa, as Mayor.

Dear Santa:
It has been a good year in Kindersley - not perfect but we don’t deserve a lump of coal either. We have made a lot of tough decisions this year and taken steps to grow. Santa, there are a lot of good people here working hard to make Kindersley a home and a community that we are all proud of. We have great volunteers! But there are some things we need help with. Could you help us with some of these things?

First of all, could you make it possible for us to spend enough on the goods and services the Town needs and wants and still lower taxes? If not, here is a list of things we need:

Clear Communications
Dust Control that Works
Field House
Fire Hall
Good Crops
Good Governance
Good Government Relations
Health Services Effectiveness
Homeowners in Brookhollow
HWY Corridor Beautification
Ladder Truck
Lift Stations
Lower Taxes
Main St Boulevard
New Businesses
Passing & Turning Lanes on HWYs
Performing Arts Centre
Playgrounds and Equipment
Pool
Reasonable Oil Prices
Redesigned HWY Intersections
Regional Landfill
Revitalized Downtown
Safety for All
Street Sweeper
Truck Parking
Waste Water Lagoon
Water and Sewage Pipes
Water Mains
WCEC Fully Repaired

Finally, Santa, to wrap this up nicely: effective and efficient arts, recreation, and social programming for kids of all ages.

I realize, Santa, that this list is a bit lengthy but Kindersley needs these items to be beautiful and just, to have opportunities for fulfillment, and to have good relations. Sometimes we complain that the federal and provincial governments seem too much like Scrooge but we realize they are trying their best with their resources as well.

Thanks, Santa. And if you don’t mind installing or implementing these items, I sure would be grateful; my Christmas tree and stocking aren’t big enough for these items.

Merry Christmas! May peace and joy be yours throughout the year. Please, stay safe in the winter conditions.


Please write or phone if you would like me to discuss a particular topic. If you have any questions or comments, drop me a line at the town office or email me at mayorenns-wind@kindersley.ca. You can also check out my blog at http://mayorjohn.blogspot.ca/. I appreciate your feedback.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Moment with the Mayor: A Potpourri of Stuff

Hi Neighbours:

This past Sunday, the puck dropped to start the World Junior “A” Challenge. The hockey promises to be pretty good and tickets are still available so you can see the stars of tomorrow.

Council held our last regular meeting last week and we were able to pass the 2015 budget, in principle. In principle because we have to wait for SAMA to provide the assessment numbers so we can determine the mill rate. I hate to say it, but we have not been able to lower taxes and still build, fix, and program everything we would like to accomplish. The budget calls for a 3% increase. The increase is just above the rate of inflation. I have written before we will be seeing an increase in salaries; the union contract expired and had to be renegotiated and we did a salary review for senior staff. Our senior staff salaries were too low and, as a result, it has prevented us from hiring a Director of Community Services. Another example of rising costs is RCMP services, which are increasing by 8%.

I am proud to say that we passed the Anti-bullying Bylaw as well. Michelle Webber, the Executive Director of the West Central Crisis and Family Support Centre gave a powerful presentation. She shared with us that 7 people in Kindersley have attempted suicide in the past two months with bullying being a strong motivator in their decision. Another sad story was of a little girl, 7, who was being bullied to take pictures of herself topless for her peers. This bullying and harassment is unacceptable. Why does this happen? Why do people demean, bully, and harass others? These are rhetorical questions but our response cannot be rhetorical. We each have a responsibility to identify when bullying takes place and in changing attitudes so that it does not continue.

How can we create a culture where people can succeed when this anti-social behaviour is happening? Let’s work together to find solutions.

Council also approved the Town being able to borrow $1 million to cover cash flow challenges. Revenue does not come in on a consistent basis to cover the Town’s expenditures resulting in cash flow problems. This is a normal course of business and the Town has been doing this for a long time.

Have a good week, enjoy the festivities, and stay safe in the winter conditions. Merry Christmas!


Please write or phone if you would like me to discuss a particular topic. If you have any questions or comments, drop me a line at the town office or email me at mayorenns-wind@kindersley.ca. You can also check out my blog at http://mayorjohn.blogspot.ca/. I appreciate your feedback.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Housing Co-Ops 101: A Presentation to Council December 8, 2014

 One of the last delegations of the year was Patrick Lapointe's presentation on co-operative housing. A presentation he entitled "Housing Co-Ops 101." I will still pursue this to determine if there is enough interest in the community.

























Sunday, 7 December 2014

Moment with the Mayor: World Jr "A" Challenge and Loraas

Hi Neighbours:

Starting this week, Kindersley plays host to the World Junior A Challenge, which will feature six teams. Canada has two teams, Canada East and Canada West, and the remaining four teams are from Denmark, Switzerland, Russia, and USA. The teams are arriving around December 10th, and the first game of the Challenge is scheduled to start December 14th at 4:30 pm.

I’d like to extend a warm welcome to the visiting teams and players from across Canada, Denmark, Switzerland, Russia, and the USA. I hope you have a good tournament with great competition and new friends. May this experience be a highlight of your lives.

The Klippers are currently ranked the top team in the SJHL and the 9th best team in the Canadian Junior Hockey League. Three Klippers have been invited to attend the Canada West camp: Owen LaClare, the leading SJHL goal scorer with 24 goals in 27 games; Cody Young; and the SJHL’s top ranked goalie Evan Weninger with a save percentage of .947 after 25 games.

A number of NHLers have played in previous Challenges, including: Kyle Turris of the Ottawa Senators (former tournament MVP), Joe Colbourne of the Calgary Flames, and Nail Yakapov of the Edmonton Oilers. The hockey promises to be good and some of the games will be televised on TSN. Come out and support the Klipper players and the Canadian teams. Tickets are available at the Klippers office in the West Central Events Centre.

Congratulations to the organizing committee headed by Rocky Perkins for their hard work in organizing this event.

In other news: Loraas begins their garbage and recycling contract with the Town at the beginning of January. Loraas reps will be dropping off the garbage (black) and recycling (blue) bins at your home. You will find them at your curb where they are to be picked up with a lift on collection days. The Town is also examining the feasibility of having an organic (green) bin for grass, leaves, and weeds for the spring and summer months. If you want to learn more, there is one more open house at the Elks Hall, Dec 10th starting at 7:00 PM. I would like to thank Waste Management and their local team for their partnership with the Town these past years.

Council’s last meeting of the year is Dec 8th and we aren’t schedule to meet again until January 12th.

Have a good week, enjoy the festivities, and stay safe in the winter conditions.


Please write or phone if you would like me to discuss a particular topic. If you have any questions or comments, drop me a line at the town office or email me at mayorenns-wind@kindersley.ca. You can also check out my blog at http://mayorjohn.blogspot.ca/. I appreciate your feedback.

Friday, 5 December 2014

SAMA Appointment

SUMA has invited me to sit on the Urban Advisory Committee of the Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency (SAMA).

SAMA is an independent agency with responsibility to:
·         the Province of Saskatchewan;
·         local governments (municipalities); and
·         property owners.

Provincial legislation mandates SAMA to:
·         develop and maintain the province’s assessment policies, standards and procedures;
·         audit assessments, and review and confirm municipal assessment rolls; and
·         provide property valuation services to local governments (municipalities).

SAMA is partly funded:
·         by the provincial government for our core service of developing assessment policy, auditing municipal assessments and confirming assessment rolls; and
·         through "requisitions" that municipalities pay for SAMA field services.

SAMA’s task, in a nutshell:
·         SAMA provides reliable, up-to-date property assessment valuations – the pillar upon which governments set tax policy and property tax rates.

For this reason, SAMA focuses on providing objective, accurate, understandable information to all stakeholders.

SAMA strives for a quality assessment system that is:

·         accurate and up-to-date
·         based on professional standards
·         defensible
·         understandable
·         universal
·         cost-effective and easily administered
·         equitable, and
·         fair for all property owners.

It’s important to note what SAMA doesn’t do, because there is often confusion:
·         SAMA doesn’t make tax policy, and
·         doesn’t set mill rates.

The mandate of the Advisory Committee:
Provide advice to the Board, with respect to urban and northern municipalities with less than 30,000 population, on the following:
·         Assessment policies and practices, as they apply to urban municipalities with less than 30,000 population including manuals, reassessments, schedules, modeling, etc.
·         The legislative amendments required to implement a successful revaluation.
·         Appropriate communications strategies for implementing reassessments in urban municipalities with less than 30,000 population.
·         Any other matters referred to the Committee by the SAMA Board.

There is no cost to the Town for my participation as a member of the Advisory Committee.