MORRISBURG – Looking back at 2017 during the year end interview, at the South Dundas Municipal Centre, with mayor Evonne Delegarde, she said that the schools being saved from closure was definitely the highlight of the year.
“[South Dundas] staff worked really hard on that and the whole community got involved. We saw people from every age group get involved,” said Delegarde. “Everyone seemed to band together and the positive outcome made it more pleasant.”
Asked about the overall accomplishments of council in 2017, Delegarde also spoke about the arena project, seeing it as a success in that they were able to secure $315,000 worth of Trillium funding for the project. She said the Municipality ended up having to pay about $400,000 towards the project, which was significantly more than originally budgeted, but they had run into unanticipated issues with the structure of the building.
She was pleased to see several new businesses open in South Dundas over the past year, and to see the successes of the local businesses that were fortunate enough to receive funding grants in recent weeks.
Other than the major accomplishments listed, she said that a lot of effort has been going into behind the scenes work.
“This year, staff did a lot of behind the scenes work,” said Delegarde.
Along with dedicating much time to fight proposed school closures, Delegarde said that municipal staff spent a lot of time on the property reviews that resulted in the sale of several parcels of municipally-owned land.
While most of the land transfers out of municipal ownership were to abutting landowners, a few major sales did result from the effort including the sale of the Iroquois public works building and the former municipal office in Williamsburg.
Staff restructuring has continued throughout 2017. Delegarde said overall the net staffing levels remain about the same.
The director of public works position remains vacant.
Delegarde explained that for now the supervisors in the public works, water and sewer and landfill departments have taken on additional responsibilities
Asked by The Leader if that is sufficient and viable long term, Delegarde said, “With the change in staff, we lost most of the construction season.”
Major projects, like Pigeon Island Road, did not happen and council is still waiting on an outstanding bridge report regarding the rural bridges that remain closed.
She said that council will again look at staffing when the organizational chart is reviewed in the new year.
“For the time being, things are working quite well,” said Delegarde.
In the new year, in response to results from the building review report, Delegarde said that a priority will be downsizing public works buildings. Her overall goal is to eliminate the Morrisburg building as well as the Iroquois building that has already been sold. Other than those buildings, she said that for her the Iroquois Campsite building and Forward House will also be priorities.
The final downloads of counties roads 1 and 4 will take place in the new year. Delegarde said that County Road 1 will be downloaded to South Dundas early in the new year, while County Road 4 will not be downloaded until all of the work is complete.
“We are not looking at downloading any other [Counties] roads,” said Delegarde. “They were the only two that made sense.”
In 2018, Delegarde said that her plan is to work away at cleaning up what’s already on the plate.
“I want to get that done in the first half of the year, because you never know what can happen in an election year. We could end up with a lame duck council.”
“It will be a busy year, especially for staff,” she added.
Budget deliberations will be the first major order of business in 2018.