By JAYMIE L. WHITE
Special to the Appalachian
STEPHENVILLE — The most recent Town Council meeting took place on Thursday evening, Dec. 9 and marked the last town council meeting before the new year.
Chairing the meeting was Deputy Mayor Susan Fowlow, but Mayor Tom Rose did attend via Zoom. Matters discussed included the proclamation signing, a donation for the Addiction Recovery Drop-In Centre, adoption of the 2022 budget, capital works projects, equipment purchases, recruitment of a Town Manager, and healthcare in the region.
Project Red Ribbon Day
Deputy Mayor Susan Fowlow spoke on the proclamation Project Red Ribbon for MADD Canada. The proclamation was signed on Dec. 2, 2021, officially declaring it a Project Red Ribbon Day in Stephenville.
“As part of that, we continue to remind people that, if you consume drugs or alcohol, don’t drive. Give your keys to somebody else if you’re even thinking about it and let everyone enjoy the evening,” said Fowlow.
Before the motion was brought forward, Coun. Myra White wanted to preface it with a statement.
“As the chair of the Finance and Administration Committee, I am pleased to present the Town of Stephenville’s 2022 budget, the first for this new council,” said White. “My team and I, along with our senior management team, reviewed the anticipated expenditures and financial obligations for the upcoming year. Council’s goal for 2022 is to maintain and improve service levels while continuing to invest in the future growth of our Town. We are certainly fortunate to live and work in this beautiful town with a promising future.”
The council's overall operational budget for 2022 has matching revenues and expenses in the amount of $8,658,078 and there will be no increase in fees, residential property taxes, commercial property tax, and business taxes.
The motion was approved by council.
“I want to commend management and the Finance Committee for bringing in a balanced budget,” said Mayor Rose. “In these trying times, to bring in a budget where no fees or taxes are increased, in a time where assessments are going down, it shows we are fiscally managed, and we are assuring the public we are taking their best interests and the interests of the Town to heart.”
Capital Works Projects
Coun. White outlined the capital works projects that were continuing or beginning for the Town of Stephenville in 2022. These projects are as follows:
• Queen Street Extension will be getting a second layer of asphalt to complete the project
• Pleasant Ave. Phase 2 will be completed at a cost of $1,249,922
• Minnesota Drive overpass will be renewed at a cost of $1,215,081
• The new playground, which suffered numerous delays due to COVID, will be constructed in Spring 2022 at Blanche Brook Park at a cost of $548,717.
Coun. White also said that in the new fiscal year, the Town will be purchasing two new pieces of equipment – a new sand truck and a new skid steer with blower and sweeper attachments.
White said, as they are a new council, she sent a letter to Santa asking for help in finding out what equipment staff needed for the Town, and he was instrumental in getting information from the Public Works Department. Concerns had been relayed from residents in the community that sand and salt was only spread on some properties in Stephenville, and the new equipment will include all properties.
“Hopefully everybody will be happy with the new purchases, and everyone will get their share of the sand and the salt,” said White. “We hope the taxpayers continue to let the staff know about their concerns and we will be sure to include Santa again next year.”
The sand truck will cost approximately $260,000 and the skid steer costs $137,815.
Addiction Recovery Centre
Coun. White recommended that the town provide a donation to the centre for $5,000, which was unanimously approved by council. Deputy Mayor Fowlow said there was a reason for the increase in donation amount this year.
“We had some discussion around that dollar value because it is a little higher than other years, but it was felt that the work that’s being done at the Addictions Recovery Centre is very hard to place a dollar value on,” said Fowlow. “But we know that in our community, where addictions and mental health issues are something we need to work towards doing better at, having a centre like this for people is certainly a step in the right direction.”
New Town Manager needed
Coun. White, speaking on behalf of the Finance Committee, recommended that the town engage LW Consulting for the recruitment of the Town Manager. The motion was approved and Mayor Tom Rose said it won’t be easy to follow current Town Manager, Mike Campbell.
“Mike Campbell will be leaving us in 2022, but there will be big shoes to fill for whoever he or she may be, in the role of manager in 2022,” said Rose. “I want to wish Mike the very best on his retirement.”
Mayor Rose wanted to address the concerns that have been taking place in the community regarding the state of healthcare in the region.
“Clearly, from our meetings with Western Health and the Health Accord Leaders, there are no plans to shut down the Stephenville Hospital or our surgery or our ICU, but clearly we are in a healthcare crisis when it comes to family physicians,” said Rose. “This coming Tuesday, we’re meeting with the recruitment person for Western Health, but this shows how mismanaged this is because we rolled out our recruitment package 13 months ago. We’ve had multiple requests to have them meet with us, and it took 13 months. Why are we in a healthcare crisis? Because people aren’t doing their jobs. We have to take a leadership role and we are as a municipality.”