MRC meeting 2017 budget adopted

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Allyson Beauregard

CAMPBELL’S BAY – The 18 mayors of the MRC Pontiac met at the MRC building, November 23, for their monthly Council of Mayors meeting. While the main highlight of the agenda was the adoption of the 2017 budget, other items included a discussion about the maintenance of Bois Franc Road in Mansfield, and a presentation from Pontiac en Forme.

Allyson Beauregard

CAMPBELL’S BAY – The 18 mayors of the MRC Pontiac met at the MRC building, November 23, for their monthly Council of Mayors meeting. While the main highlight of the agenda was the adoption of the 2017 budget, other items included a discussion about the maintenance of Bois Franc Road in Mansfield, and a presentation from Pontiac en Forme.
MRC Director of Development Marc Fortin has resigned due to personal reasons and will be leaving December 16.
Remo Pasteris from Green PPJ Verte asked Council about the proposed study on the PPJ’s overwidth and whether a fixed amount of the PPJ’s budget could be
designated solely for maintenance. “Most of last year’s budget went towards salaries, gas, and vehicle costs,” he said, claiming the amount allocated for maintenance was reduced from 20% in 2013 to 3% in 2015.
MRC Director General Gabriel Lance replied that the salaries, gas and vehicle costs were directly related to maintenance such as grass cutting, brushing, etc and, due to funding cuts, there was no extra money available for improvements last year.
For 2017, the MRC expects to receive $125,000 in funding from Route Verte for PPJ maintenance, which the MRC is then obligated to match.
Warden Raymond Durocher said the file on the proposed study will be re-visited early next year once other end-of-the-year matters are settled.
Pontiac en Forme
Lisa Lagacé, Coordinator for Pontiac en Forme (PeF), explained how their parent organization, Quebec en Forme, will be abolished in 2018. As a result, PeF’s budget was cut by 50% and their staff was reduced from 3 full-time employees to one. Lagacé is hoping that with careful management of PeF’s funds, her position as the sole coordinator will continue until December 31, 2017.
Lagacé requested the MRC and each municipality pass resolutions asking the government to continue injecting money into initiatives that give priority
to programs promoting healthy habits. “We are asking the government to put money into prevention because it’s more cost effective than curing,” she said. “We are looking at every avenue to ensure our major projects don’t fall to the wayside. Our summer camp, for example, is a very important one.”
Crunching numbers
Council unanimously approved the MRC’s $6.8 million budget which includes a 3.39% increase in municipal shares (compared to 1% last year), and the appropriation of $164,000 from the accumulated surplus to balance the budget (compared to $210,000 last year). Three additional MRC jobs relating to the environment, development, and communications were created.
The budget also set aside $17,400 to be used towards election costs should Council decide to move forward with electing the warden through universal suffrage during next November’s municipal elections. “It’s still in discussion, but if we decide to move forward, there will be election costs. A decision must be made before May,” explained Durocher, noting the amount will become an annual expense if they decide to move forward. If Council stays with the status quo, the amount will be allocated elsewhere.
In order to help balance the budget, the remuneration for elected officials was not increased and Pro-warden Terry Murdock agreed to reduce the pro-warden’s salary by about $10,000.
NCC partnerships denied
Litchfield and Thorne both presented notices of their decision to not partner with the NCC in watercourse management and urged other municipalities to follow suit, in order to retain control of the situations in their municipalities. During October’s meeting, Clarendon presented a similar notice.
Bois Franc Road
In response to the future construction of a bridge spanning the Coulonge River in the TNO to give forestry companies in the Maniwaki and Temiscaming areas a shorter route to access wood supplies in the TNO, Council stressed that governmental maintenance of the Bois Franc Road must be a
priority.
“The government originally said road maintenance is to be done by the forestry companies. The bridge is a government project, so road maintenance should be a government project too… we’re not relying on forestry companies only,” explained Durocher, noting the four other Outaouais MRCs also support his position. Negotiations are ongoing.
While the preliminary work for the bridge is already complete, construction is not expected to begin until at least next year.
The next Council of Mayors meeting will be held December 13.