MRC Meeting

Pat Shank, un résident, demande s'il pourrait prendre des dispositions pour que des experts de Zéro Déchet donnent des présentations virtuelles aux maires lors de la prochaine réunion du conseil.

EFW Business Plan removed from website; financial audit

Bonnie James
Local Journalism Initiative

MRC PONTIAC – The MRC Pontiac’s Council of Mayors’ monthly meeting was held April 17 at the MRC headquarters in Litchfield.

EFW business plan removed
During the public question period, Christine Armitage of Shawville asked why the Energy-from-Waste (EFW) Initial Business Plan (IBP) had been removed from the MRC’s plan to the public after the conclusion of a series of five town hall meetings, on April 10. True to her word, the IBP from the Deloitte company and a feasibility study from Ramboll were both posted on the MRC website on April 11. But the next day, neither link worked, and the documents had been removed.

On April 15, MRC Strategic Communications Advisor Francis Beausoleil sent an e-mail to the media stating that: “We were advised Friday morning by the parties involved that releasing these documents violated a third-party confidentiality clause that was written into the contract to commission the analysis. In our opinion, these documents are in the public domain since they were paid for with taxpayers’ money. That said, we have for the time being removed the links to the documents while we carry out legal verifications concerning their publication.”

Toller confirmed this in her response to Armitage’s question, saying that they removed the documents from the website while they make sure they aren’t in violation of contract. Armitage asked what the MRC would be liable for if the contract had been violated and Toller replied: “At this point, we don’t believe there will be repercussions.”

Audited financial statements
Auditor Simon Thibault presented a detailed breakdown of the 2023 audited financial statements for both the unorganized territory (TNO) and the MRC.

The TNO had a surplus of $109,109 for the period covered and an accumulated surplus of approximately $800,000. MRC accountant Annie Vaillancourt, translating for Thibault, said the amount is equivalent to the average annual revenues for the jurisdiction and meets the recommended surplus to revenues ratio.

Vaillancourt said that the MRC has an unreserved surplus of $1,300,816 and an affected (reserved) surplus of $165,806 with $144,897 having been used to balance the 2024 budget. Thibault said that 15 – 20% of budgeted revenues is the recommended ratio for an accumulated surplus for municipalities and MRCs. The Pontiac’s surplus currently sits at 13%.

Unpaid salaries at the MRC accounted for a large portion of the 2023 surplus, roughly $400,000, which had been budgeted for compensation for jobs that remained unfilled.

Vaillancourt also said that transfer revenues and interest collected in 2023 were much higher than had been budgeted, but that transfer revenue is “in and out”, which means revenues and expenses always match up exactly.Vaillancourt said that the audit went well, and no problems or concerns surfaced.

Water levels
The Flood Prevention Committee met on April 16. Toller said that the water levels are higher than expected given the low amount of snow over the winter, with levels in Mansfield and Fort-Coulonge of particular concern. The levels are believed to have peaked on April 16 and are now receding. Mansfield Mayor Sandra Armstrong said that the Coulonge River is high, but under control.

Toller said that the Timiskaming dam is at 90% capacity and that she’s asked for a warning if flow is to be increased. She said that she was also surprised to learn that the dams on the Ottawa River operate independently, not in a coordinated effort, and therefore the MRC would be seeking to communicate with each dam operator from Timiskaming to Chenaux to prepare for fluctuating water levels.

The next Council of Mayors meeting will be held May 15.