Tuesday, May 26, 2009  
   Volume 79 - Issue 21 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
“Obviously there was a little bit of fat left.”
- Councillor David Cole  
- on the Community   
Services budget   


Council’s new motto: just say no to municipal vehicles.
At their regular meeting on Tuesday, May 19, council squashed administration’s attempts to lease a new vehicle for the summer months using funds from their approved operational budget.
With Chief Administrative Officer Gordon Lundy away on vacation, council had held off making any decision on the matter previously. At the May 19 meeting, the recently returned Lundy made his case for the expenditure.
Lundy said that he had authorized Community Services Director Cam Mertz to source a leased vehicle for June, July, and August. The vehicle would be used by the department while its regular vehicles were being used by summer students working throughout the commmunity.
“We do need vehicles,” said Lundy, “or else the work will not get done. It’s as simple as that.” He said that currently the municipality is ferrying people about and sharing vehicles with other departments where needed.
“We attempt to use all the resources we have in a somewhat efficient manner,” he said.
He noted that the new weed control officer will use the former bylaw enforcement vehicle, which would not be an option if the last bylaw officer hadn’t resigned.
During the 2009 budget process council had decided not to purchase any new vehicles this year. As no capital money for vehicles had been approved, the department was attempting to lease a vehicle for three months using approved operational money, part of which was slated for potential transportation use.
Councillor David Cole suggested that if the Community Services budget had enough room to fit the vehicle lease into it, it had enough room for more cuts. “Obviously there was a little bit of fat left,” he said.
Mertz defended his budget, which he cut during the budget process. He said that the vehicle for the summer months is a priority need, and that he reallocated funds from other areas in small ways to make up the difference. The lease would not cost any additional taxpayer money, as the money would be found by shuffling funds around in the approved budget based on what the department felt was most important.
Councillor Ian MacLeod said that he sees buying and leasing as the same thing and that there should be no new vehicles period. “I don’t see obtaining a vehicle as an operational purchase,” he said.
Councillor Dean Ward noted that the municipality currently has 29 pickups licensed and insured, and added that there are fewer than 40 municipal employees working outside the office. “I’m struggling to figure out where the difficulty is,” he said.
Lundy explained that a number of those pickups are now more than 20 to 25 years old, and should no longer be on the road. He did not know why they were still being licensed and insured if that were the case.
He said that he could provide council with a list of the vehicles that work and of the problems with the ones that do not. Spending money on the old vehicles would be a waste at this point, he said.
Councillor Ward said he wanted clarification on the vehicle numbers. “If one little vehicle for June, July, and August is going to solve our problems,” he said, “how big are the problems?”
Councillor Cole agreed, saying that a vehicle from June to August would make no difference and that he would not support leasing one for that period.
Councillor MacLeod said that if the municipality doesn’t have enough vehicles to go around, some employees would be seen walking. He said that he feels the municipality has enough vehicles.
Defending administration’s right to choose priorities within their approved budget was Councillor Gary Taje.
He made a motion to allow administration to work within the confines of their operational budget on this matter. “I’m not sure why this even needs to be said,” he added, noting that transportation is included as an expenditure area within their approved budget.
Councillor Larry Mitchell supported the motion. He said that the budget was passed and administration should be allowed to operate within it. He wondered if council would continue hashing out the budget at every meeting even after it had been passed.
Councillor Ward attempted to table the matter to get more information on vehicle numbers, but Mayor Irwin ruled that the number of vehicles was a separate issue that did not affect this vote.
Councillor Taje’s motion was defeated 4-3, Mayor Irwin and Councillors Taje and Mitchell in favour.
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