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Budget battle: council resolves conflict and approves vehicle purchase

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
April 3rd, 2013

The city will be getting five new vehicles after a rare split vote at council’s previous meeting saw the motion defeated, then brought back to last night’s meeting and subsequently passed.

After the March 18meeting that saw council give the purchase a thumbs-down, councillors Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff, Deb McIntosh and Russ Hearne all said in separate interviews that they voted against the motion, not because the purchase was without merit, but rather because they objected to the process.

“We just went through a lengthy and involved budget process,” Heaton-Shersobitoff said. “That’s where this expenditure should’ve been brought up and debated. If it’s not in the budget, I guess we have to wait until next year’s budget discussions.”

McIntosh said she felt blindsided by the motion, and that there should have been some discussion with council, not just at the committee level, before it was slid into the agenda – hence her ‘no’ vote.

She said what changed fer her last night (the motion passed unanimously) was that now that there has been some conversation and she’s been allowed to consider the merit of the purchase, she’s prepared to support it.

Hearne wasn’t present at last night’s meeting to weigh in.

Councillor Kevin Chernoff, chair of the Transportation and Civic Works Committee, figuratively fell on his sword at last night’s meeting, taking responsibility for the issue being raised outside the budget process.

“I don’t know if I was comfortable with the motion the first time it came forward either. but I have taken the time to explore and research the merits of this motion over the past weeks in much more detail,” he said. “With that being said I think it is too important a motion to leave for another year. I feel comfortable that this was no more than an oversight through the budget discussions. Ultimately, though, as I am the Chair of this Committee the buck stops with me.”

He said the particulars of the recommendation are: a trailer purchase $21,905 (approved in budget discussions last year), two used 4X4 trucks to allow the director and operations manager vehicles that can manage winter conditions, $20,000 after trade-in and, finally, a used Smart Car and 4X4 pick-up for the combined use of bylaw enforcement and summer works staff for a combined cost of $32,000 after trade-in.

Chernoff, in a verbal report, spelled out the necessity driving each vehicle purchase, concluding with the budgetary implications.

“We are proposing an MFA lease to fund the purchases as interest rates are extremely low through the Municipal Finance Authority. The interest rate charged by the MFA is currently at two-per-cent on a floating lease over the life of a five-year lease,” he explained. “Payments on the $74,000 would equate to $1,303.19 per month over the remaining 9 months of this fiscal cycle. Total 2013 payments would be approximately $11,750.00 Subsequent years would be about $15,650.00 per year over budget cycles of the remaining four years.

“Instead of the full $40,000.00 expenditure that was already approved for 2013 we would convert all the proposed equipment and vehicle purchases to a MFA lease. Therefore we are being asked to spend approx. $12,000 in 2013 and in subsequent years $15,650 for the balance of the four years remaining, when it will be paid in full.”

 

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