What’s Up at FPCOW on Monday, March 5, 2012

Ron Bolin:  March 1, 2012

This will be the first meeting of FPCOW (the OTHER Council Meeting) to be held at the Shaw Auditorium, the site where “regular” Council meetings are held.  As before, FPCOW (Financial and Policy Committee of the Whole) meetings are held at 4:30pm.  You can rest assured that there will be plenty of room, so come speak either as a registered delegation, without registering under the aegis of item 6 (a) on the Agenda which is for delegations  pertaining to the 2012-2016 Financial Plan aka the budget, or just to listen to how your money is spent.  Remember that items in the budget, including the recently hastily added position of Communication Manager, are still up for discussion and can be changed.

And it looks like Council was its own Delegation Pertaining to the 2012 -2016 Financial Plan at the last FPCOW meeting as the moving, seconding AND adoption of the Communication Manager Position is given under this agenda item in the minutes of that meeting.  Now that is efficiency in spending $140,000. Hats off to Ruttan, Brennan, Anderson, Johnstone and McKay for their alacrity!  Who even knew that budget items like this could be handled within a single unregistered delegation?  Keep this swift action in mind as you consider what to present.  There seems to be lots of money available.

Under Commission Reports you will find:

  • A recommendation that $16,000 be spent on public art;
  • A recommendation that Travel Grant changes be made to remove, update,  or add grant criteria and to evaluate multiyear grant applications.  The total grant budget is $7,500.  Money is still available.
  • The minutes of the Jan 25, 2012 meeting of the Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission.

Under Staff Reports: Administration:

Staff recommends that Council approve a very tedious process for approving “the conditions, parameters, process and roles contained in option 4 of this report as policy.” The upshot, involving a good deal of administrative thrashing would be to allow each Councillor up to $3,000 per year automatically and with any overage to be decided by Council, for legal opinions as to whether a vote by a Councillor might prove to be a conflict of interest, just in case a Councillor should be in doubt.  It is difficult to imagine what the utility of this new policy would be other than to enrich the legal profession as our representatives test the depths of the ice onto which they might be skating.  The legislation on this subject is in flux.  I suggest that such a policy is shooting a fly with an elephant gun: and one that could prove costly in practice both monetarily and ethically.

Under Staff Reports: Corporate Services:

  1. Staff recommends that Members of Council amend their policy on attendance at  out-of-town meetings to permit such expense without prior approval if the meetings are related to municipal government, within Canada, and within the Council approved budget.  “The 2012 Budget for Mayor & Council includes a total of $16,000 for conference & seminar registration fees and $32,000 for travel expenses (including hotels).”
  2. Staff recommends that Council award a contract to implement the SAP (computer) budget module to the lowest bidder.  Reading the report gives rise to many questions.  This matter only comes to Council because all bids received exceed the $250,000 limit on Staff budgetary discretion.  Had bids come in under that amount as Staff anticipated, this matter would not be on the agenda. BUT… the lowest bid received was for $399,336, the next lowest was for $632,260, the next was for $811,375, and the fourth and highest was for $833,200.  These results are at this point and despite the report, inexplicable.  Something is obviously wrong.  Furthermore there are apparently other factors affecting this purchase.  I find it difficult to believe that effective fiscal management could allow this purchase to proceed without a report which better outlines the options AND the reasons why this bidding process has gotten so far out of hand.
  3. Staff recommends that Council direct Staff to “enter into an agreement with the Province of British Columbia for the Strategic Community Investment Fund to ensure that these funds are available to the City of Nanaimo from 2012-2014.” As this agreement brings approximately $1.2 million per year to Nanaimo from the Province and the application must include a signed Agreement by March 23, 2012, this is a no brainer.  The funds must be used for stated purposes.  In the case of Nanaimo this has been, and will in the present agreement, be used to offset the cost of police services.

In a For Information Only Report, the Director of Engineering and Public Works and the Manager of Water Resources present preliminary results from a Water Audit.  The work to date shows that water use in Nanaimo is considerably less than is the case either in BC or in Canada.

In Nanaimo:  litres/person/day 530:  residential 296.

In BC:                                                        689                           448

In Canada:                                             591                            327

Bravo Nanaimo.  Further work on the Audit should give a still better picture of where our water is going and, perhaps even more significant, determine when any major new water supply is required.

In a For Information report on the Cliff McNabb Arena Project, the Senior Manager of Parks and Civil Facilities indicates that five companies have met the qualifications for the project and will be asked to bid on this work which is currently budgeted at $1,750,000 following the addition of an Ice Melt Pit enclosure, and increase of $150,000 to the original budget.

In the penultimate Agenda item here will be an opportunity for delegations pertaining to items not on the agenda.  At the last FPCOW meeting the Communication Manager position should perhaps  have come up under this flag rather than delegations pertaining to items which were on the agenda as it was not on the agenda.  Registration is required, but late matters can be brought forward by a motion, second and vote of permission from Council.  If needed this should be arranged with a Councillor before the meeting begins.

Question Period (Agenda Items Only) will, as always, end the meeting and provides the opportunity for citizens to ask their Council and/or, through them to Staff, questions about the substance or proceedings of the meeting.

For a full agenda which contains the reports provided for these items  see:    http://www.nanaimo.ca/UploadedFilesPath/Site_Structure/Corporate_Services/Corporate_Administration/2012_Committee_Agendas/FPCOW120305A.pdf