After the November 2, 2016 Swearing in Ceremony of Council, an election was held for Warden & Deputy Warden where Councillor Pitts was nominated as Warden, and Councillor Pelly nominated Deputy Warden for the next four year term.
Following that nomination and acceptance of the appointment, Warden Pitts provided this address to fellow Council members, Staff and members of the media and public whom were present.
Firstly, I want to congratulate each of you on being re-elected in your Districts. I look forward to working with each of you during the next 4 years.
Secondly, I want to thank my residents on acclaiming me to be their Councillor in District 6. I also want to thank them for the confidence that they have shown in me and I want to assure them that I will do my utmost to represent their interests just as I’m committed to do for every resident of the Municipality.
Thirdly, I want to thank my fellow Councillors in your continued support for me to be the Warden of our great Municipality. We have worked on lots of great initiatives together in the past and I want to continue to work with each of you as we move our Municipality forward in a positive, focussed, responsible, and determined manner.
We have been a model for other Municipalities in Nova Scotia and we will continue to be at the forefront at what we do. We have been the 1st Municipality in Nova Scotia to launch a lot of initiatives from being the first to host onshore natural gas assets to first in owning a large scale windfarm, from being the only Rural Municipality to have every inch of its property zoned to having the lowest residential tax rate in the Province, and the list goes on. We demonstrate that again tonight in becoming only the 5th Municipality out of 51 Municipalities in Nova Scotia to post travel expenses online for both the Warden and Councillors.
As we move forward, we are in a very strong fiscal position, with financial statements adopted in July, showing us with an accumulated surplus on our consolidated financial statements including cash and tangible assets in excess of $47 Million dollars. We have money in cash reserves in excess of $25 Million that includes more than a $1 Million dollar surplus from the last fiscal year.
The percentage of revenue from residential taxation is 7.51%, and as I said earlier, we can still boast of having the lowest residential tax rate in the Province, and although the rate is higher in the Canso urban serviced area, because of lower assessments, Canso residents pay less taxes than those in the Shiretown, which is a win-win for all taxpayers and the Municipality as a whole. Commercial and other taxation accounts for 28.4% of all revenues, while 64.09% of all revenues come from other sources which include mostly our business investments.
Our Council takes a Corporate Approach to Revenue Generation so that we can maximize the service to our residents at their lowest possible tax burden, while recognizing that if we had to survive on taxation only, the services that we provide to our communities would be minimal. And from a service level, we focus on the responsibilities that fall within the Municipal Jurisdiction such as parks and recreation, fire and emergency services, public works, policing, waste management, municipal planning, economic development, and not on services that are the responsibility of the Provincial and Federal Governments. Will we lobby the other levels of government on providing a higher level of their services, absolutely, but we cannot take over their responsibilities.
As we continue to build on our business investment opportunities to help improve our long term financial health, I am pleased to announce that in the coming days we will launch a new business investment website at www.investguysborough.ca. A consultant, together with our staff, will be further briefing our Council next Wednesday at the Committee of the Whole meeting on the new business investment readiness package. I want to thank ACOA for being a major funding partner on that project.
Additionally today, I also want to announce that we have launched a new and improved municipal website that can be viewed at www.modg.ca. This is our ‘bread and butter’ website that can be viewed for updates on our regular activities, for background information on everything that we do, twitter and facebook updates, contact information for Council and Departments, among a whole range of other informative material. Please have a look as it is a very impressive website.
As part of our ongoing work, tonight we have adopted 2 brand new polices, completely revamped 1 other policy, and amended 4 others. The revamp of these policies have been in the works for quite some time and we chose to leave them for adoption of the new Council, so I am pleased to see that this is done tonight.
Also tonight, we have approved a request for proposals to have a consultant to put together a draft of a new Strategic Plan for Council’s consideration for the period 2017-2022. Again, this is something we felt best left for the new Council to undertake with their new mandate, and it just so happens that the old Council is the new Council, which is an endorsement by the residents of the work that you are doing in each of your Districts, and of what Council is doing as a collective Body. The terms of reference includes an opportunity for public consultation, as do all of our planning documents, and we welcome that input in the coming months. With any consultation, the Council is elected by the People to have the final say on all matters that pertains to operating our Municipality both as a corporate entity and in the best interests of all of our residents, and in the end, Council will be tasked with adopting the contents of the new Strategic Plan for the next five years.
So, Ladies and Gentlemen, as we embark on a new term for our Council, I want to thank each of you for your continued service to our residents and I also want to thank you for your work, as ratified tonight, to see this Council off to an Aggressive Start!
Thank You Everyone!
Warden Vernon Pitts