City authorizes budget amendment of $20,000

Council Briefs, from May 25 regular meeting of Grand Forks City Council.

How They Voted

Budget amendment for FOI requests

Requests from a Vancouver criminal lawyer and the provincial ombudsperson for Freedom of Information requests are proving costly to taxpayers. At Monday’s council meeting, council authorized a budget amendment for $20,000 for additional administration staff support to accommodate the additional work required by the requests.

Councillor Michael Wirischagin noted in discussion that the money would have to come from taxation and would mean an extra one or two per cent tax increase in 2016 for each resident.

The background information presented to council stated that, “Both requests will take (tremendous) amounts of time and results are required within certain time frames.”

The lawyer requesting the FOI records is Lorne Wise. He is asking for 10 separate requests mainly pertaining to the hiring, termination and re-hiring of CAO Doug Allin. There is no mention of who hired Wise.

The motion carried unanimously.

Spraying near Hutton School

Councillor Butler brought forward a motion for council to direct staff to investigate if there was any risk to school children, hospital patients or the city in relation to spraying taking place near Hutton Elementary School.

Butler told her fellow councillors that she had met with the Hutton principal as well as the school board regarding the issue.

However, Councillor Krog said that he didn’t think that staff had the time or expertise to investigate the matter. Councillor Wirischagin added that he thought the issue was better dealt with by the school board.

The motion was defeated 5-2 with only Mayor Konrad and Councillor Butler voting for it.

Technology allowance

Council looked at adopting a policy regarding technological allowances for council members.

Councillor Thompson proposed an amendment that would allow up to $2,000 for each new councillor at the beginning of their term for the purchase of a computer. The amendment includes an opt-out clause for those councillors who wish to use a previously issued computers.

The previous policy allowed $500 per year.

Doug Allin, city CAO, told council that staff is looking at not purchasing as many computers as it would be more beneficial to not have as many capital assets.

Councillor Wirischagin proposed that the motion be tabled to allow for more discussion. The tabling was carried unanimously.

Steering Committee

Council approved a motion to authorize staff to proceed with setting up a Transitional Housing Project Steering Committee (THPSC) and that the committee provide assistance and recommendation to council regarding steps necessary to facilitate the development of transitional housing in the community.

Before voting on the motion, council heard a presentation from Dave Smith of Smithplan Consulting of Kelowna. Smith recommended that council set up the THPSC to assist in walking through the actions necessary for developing a project for transition housing in the city.

Council voted unanimously to support the recommendation.

Pickleball

Council looked at three options for converting one of the tennis courts at Barbara Ann Park into four pickleball courts.

Council chose option 2 which included repurposing, but not resurfacing one court as four pickleball courts, with portable net systems at an approximate cost of $7,256.

Council agreed that if the pickleball players wished to have a dividing net between the pickleball courts and tennis court, they would have to raise the money (around $8,000).

The motion passed unanimously.

The rejected options were: 1. Resurface entire compound and dedicate one court as four permanent pickleball courts at an approximate cost of $32,149, and 2. leave as is.