Summary of the municipal council meeting of March 2, 2022
The municipal council meeting was held in public on Wednesday, March 2, 2022 in the council chambers of Sutton Town Hall. It was recorded and broadcast on our YouTube channel. The official minutes (in French only) of the meeting are also available on our website.
Introduction/follow-up of ongoing files
- The mayor asked for a moment of silence in solidarity with the Ukrainian people whose situation is dramatic. He mentioned that a group of Sutton citizens wished to welcome a Ukrainian refugee family and have the support of the Town. Councillor Alan Pavilanis, of Lithuanian origin, proposed to raise the flag of Ukraine, which was unanimously approved.
- The mayor wished to highlight the remarkable work of the firefighters during the past weekend who conducted several rescue operations in the mountains. We are very proud to have such an efficient and professional service.
- The mayor announced a necessary reform of the first responder service.
- The mayor gave an update on the urban planning file that the council has been working on since the beginning of its mandate with the two citizen listening sessions. A summary report of all the citizens’ interventions has been published on the website. The next steps will be announced in the coming weeks and presentations will be made to citizens.
- The mayor reported that information regarding dogs and cats, following the new agreement with the SPA des Cantons, has been put online.
- The mayor mentioned the release of a video on Jackson brook, directed by Etienne Benoit with citizens of Sutton and recommends its viewing.
- The mayor reiterated the importance and the reason why he calls on citizens to sign up for the services of IHR Télécom: it is a non-profit organization, mandated by the government and the MRC to bring fibre optics to all homes in remote areas when no company wanted to do so. The NPO is financed by our taxes (MRC and cities) and we all have an interest in it being profitable, so that there are as many subscribers as possible so that we don’t have to make up a financial deficit.
- The Mayor has issued a call for applications for the following committees currently being formed: CCUDD, Environmental Advisory Committee, Quality of Life Committee. The issue of affordable housing and short-term rentals is still under consideration.
- The mayor mentioned that the process of analyzing the needs of our infrastructure and community resources (e.g. John-Sleeth Centre, Museum, churches, etc.) is underway in order to present options to the population. More information will follow.
- Councillor Lynda Graham highlighted the recognition of three Sutton citizens, Lynda Gocher Hoydt, Christine Bourque and Max Gagnon by our MNA, Isabelle Charest. She reminded everyone that a volunteer recognition evening will be held on April 22nd and that organizations are invited to present the volunteer of their choice.
Adoption of one by-law:
- Council adopted the loan by-law number 318 entitled “By-law to decree an expense of $3,019,799.70 and a loan of $3,019,799.70 for the rehabilitation of North Sutton Road, between Route 139 and Favreau Road, and the replacement of 14 culverts on North Sutton, Draper, Missisquoi Valley and Schweizer Roads”: these expenses are related to the road work provided for in the ITP. Of this $3 million amount, the Quebec government’s subsidy will be $1,901,563 (the largest ever for roads) and the Town’s share will be financed over 25 years, representing an amount of $16.50/year to be paid per taxpayer.
Tabling of one draft by-law:
- Tabling of draft by-law number 319 entitled “By-law concerning the increase of the working capital”: the objective is to increase by $200,000 the amount of the working capital (currently $800,000) which is used to self-finance the purchase of capital assets, given our high level of indebtedness. Councillor Carole Lebel expressed the wish to have a debt management policy.
- Council approved the appointment of Jonathan Fortin as Deputy General Manager, while retaining his title of Clerk and Director of Legal Affairs. Under the new organizational chart being developed, the Deputy General Manager will be more involved in day-to-day operations and oversight of departments, allowing General Manager Pascal Smith to focus more on the Town’s strategies and economic development.
- Council approved the appointment of Marc-Antoine Fortier as Deputy Director of Public Security.
- Council approved the reclassification of Communications Coordinator Isabelle Capmas’ salary from 5 to 4 and to change her title to reflect her actual duties and level of responsibility.
- Council approved the pre-hiring of a new secretary for the Town Hall and General Management (process underway), as Brigitte Archambault, who held this position, wished to return to her former position as Secretary of Urbanism.
- The board has:
- the permanent hiring of Marie-Claude Plasse, Cultural Officer;
- the hiring of Charles Roy as a skilled labourer in the Public Works and Fixed Assets Department;
- the hiring of Charlotte Jacques as Recreation and Community Life Officer;
- the hiring of Kamélia Vigneault as Aquatic Activities Coordinator;
- the hiring of four people as aquatic activities staff: Sara Girard, Rébecca Thomas, Emma Mailloux and Régine Durocher;
- the hiring of two people as day camp animators: Naomie Tardif and Mackenzy Goyette; [We are still lacking people to ensure the full potential of the summer activities: we are calling for candidates!]
- The hiring of volunteer first responders who have completed their training;
- the pre-hiring of a project manager in the Public Works and Capital Assets Department (process underway)
- the pre-hiring of two temporary skilled labourers in the Recreation, Community Life and Culture Department (process underway);
- the pre-hiring of a municipal building maintenance worker (process underway), following the retirement of Guylaine Charbonneau, who had been performing the maintenance work under an external contract, and since no bidder responded to the offer;
- Council confirmed the end of the contract of Marie-France Lépine, First Responder Coordinator, which ended on February 28, as well as the end of the relationship with two first responders.
- Council approved payment #3 to Groupe Québéco in the amount of $33,713.10 for the work on the Academy well pump, which was replaced by two pumps.
- Council approved the awarding of 4 public works contracts:
- $394,200 + taxes to Entreprises Adrien Phaneuf (purchase of a tractor);
- $137,382 + taxes over three years to Entreprises Mirois (street sweeping and municipal parking lots);
- $264,842.50 + taxes to Construction DJL (stones and crushed gravel for 2022);
- $143,350 + taxes to Construction DJL (asphalt mix for 2022).
- Council approved the allocation of $25,000 from the Wastewater Surplus to upgrade the Maple Street system.
- Council authorized the use of working capital funds for:
- $6,373 + taxes for Phase 1 of the Town Hall security project (construction of a glass wall in the reception area);
- $11,593 + taxes for the purchase of a tilt trailer (to replace the 17-year-old one);
- $5,398 + taxes for the purchase of a new robot vacuum cleaner for the pool;
- $10,000 + taxes for the purchase of a new scoreboard for the baseball stadium.
- Council authorized the signing of a service contract with CITAM 3-1-1, which will handle after-hours phone calls to the City, in order to provide better service to our citizens (implementation to come). The contract amount is approximately $10,000/year for a 24/7 service in both languages. This service is separate from the CITAM mass alert service that allows the City to send phone, text or email messages directly to its citizens in the event of an emergency: sign up!
- Council approved the Town’s subscription to Réseau Environnement, a group of environmental specialists that provides environmental coaching and expertise to municipalities. The cost is $288 per year.
- Filing of the CCUDD minutes.
- All decisions made by the board are available in the official minutes or in the recording of the meeting on YouTube.
- For decisions made regarding first responders and developments on the subject, please read the March 5 press release and the March 8 press release.
- Council approved the salary adjustment for firefighters, which was already budgeted for in 2022: the increase represents approximately 4.2% of the total package.
- The board approved the filing of the 2021 annual drinking water quality reports.
- Council adopted the 2021 Public Safety Department Annual Report.
- Council accepted, in solidarity, the request for support from the Bedford Rivers Villa, which is threatened with a decrease in the level of service due to a lack of staff.
- Council approved the filing of the list of individuals who donated $50 or more to candidates, as well as the expense reports for the candidates in the municipal election.
- A citizen asked if the study that was done last fall on the costs of renovating or demolishing the John-Sleeth Centre (for the same volume) could be published so that citizens could see it before there is a consultation. RESPONSE: This report has not yet been released. At this stage, this report is not useful for agency needs analysis.
- A citizen asked:
- if we have hired a building inspector. ANSWER: No.
- If we have posted the position and if not, why not. RESPONSE: We had posted the position, but it was not successful. Recruitment is extremely difficult (we have several positions to fill). We are actively looking, but the market is not working for employers. We will consider new recruitment strategies.
- A citizen asked:
- whether the Town would install heritage designation signs at the two burial sites (Anglican and Baptist churches). RESPONSE: The Mayor would like to see the presence of Sutton’s early settlers acknowledged.
- whether the Town would consider an access map to the Route 215 well and Goyette Hill Park to collect data to assess the type of visits and cost breakdown. RESPONSE: No.
- whether a municipal assessment has been made of the length of vacation stays based on Tourism Sutton data. RESPONSE: No.
- whether increasing the length of a stay decreases people’s daily expenditures. RESPONSE: The Town does not know.
- whether the City would consider collecting data from hotel and restaurant guests to get a profile of people’s spending. RESPONSE: We do not see the need for such a questionnaire, but statistics from the Department of Tourism can be consulted.
- whether council and the mayor would approve in the vested property rights policy with zoning by-law the modification of lot sizes to increase the density of housing or use. RESPONSE: Lot size is one of the issues in the current urban plan review. The citizen is invited to share her ideas with the committee.
- A citizen asked:
- what is the correct amount of cash balance in the bank reconciliation as of 2021/12/31. ANSWER: $2,345,855.41.
- why are the full questions not posted on the Town’s website as in the past. RESPONSE: As previously answered, this was only done twice at the beginning of the pandemic and the sessions are now filmed, the questions can be heard on YouTube.
- why the written questions are not read in full. RESPONSE: They are now read in full.
- why the 2022 budget ITP ignored important points from the previous budget ITP. RESPONSE: Priorities change year after year. An ITP is not a requirement, it presents ideas. The new board placed many projects in the first year and will re-evaluate for future years.
- whether previous budget presentations would also be posted on the website. RESPONSE: Links to the topics will be added to the agenda published on the website when possible.
- why the residual tax rate now includes the rate for the fire department and the SQ, which is not clearly shown. RESPONSE: At the request of the government, the residual tax rate should be simplified as much as possible. However, as in the past, the SQ and fire rates are included in the residual tax rate. The information on the SQ rate increase was indeed included in the budget presentation.
- why the four very important files (John-Sleeth Centre & Museum, Filtex, HAS, water) are not mentioned in the ITP. RESPONSE: HAS is an NPO and does not have to be in a municipal budget. For the other files, they are under study and it is useless to put numbers until a decision has been made.
- A citizen asked several financial questions: [note that throughout the month of March, the treasury is undergoing audits for the financial statements and it is difficult to answer immediately].
- what is the estimated annual budget surplus for 2021 as of 2022/03/02. RESPONSE: Answer to come.
- a reserve of $598,245 had been created in December 2020 when the 2021 budget was adopted to balance the 2021 budget (financial report as of 2020/12/31). However, 2021 ended not with a deficit, but with an estimated budget surplus of $1.7M at the December 2021 Town Meeting. RESPONSE: The $1.7 million surplus was indeed announced in the 2022 budget. The 2020 surplus budgeted in 2021 of $598,245 is included in this surplus. The 2021 surplus used to balance the 2022 budget was included in the budget: it is $1,561,424. Council does not need to make a specific resolution for the transfer of unrestricted funds, the resolution adopting the budget is sufficient.
- what are the balances of the following reserves, restricted operating surplus, as of 2021/12/31 and 2022/01/31: Covid grant, 2022 budget, recycling, water, sewer, ditches. RESPONSE: Due to ongoing audits, the matter was held over for the next meeting.
- What is the balance of the Working Capital Reserve as of 2022/01/31. RESPONSE: The amount will be reviewed with the adoption of a new working capital amount and the finalization of the financial reports (filing of the draft regulation).
- recommendation to pay particular attention to reserves which are taxpayers’ money. RESPONSE: Council is aware of this. The General Manager wanted to clarify the term “reserve”. It should be called an allocation of unrestricted surplus.
For more details on each point discussed, please watch the meeting on our YouTube channel.
Next council meeting: Wednesday, April 6, 2022 at 7:30 p.m. (reminder: 2022 meeting schedule).