As published in the Springwater News.
Springwater Staff Changes
Congratulations to Clerk John Daly who is moving on to become the County Simcoe Clerk. I have only known John for a little over a year and have seen his focus and dedication toward his job. He has been a valuable team member over his years at Springwater I understand. We will still be bugging you with questions at County John!
Congratulations to Brent Spagnol, promoted to Director of Planning and Nick Ippolito promoted to Director of Building. Both continue to work very hard and are well deserving of this recognition.
Materials Management Facility (MMF) and Organics Processing Facility (OPF)
Simcoe County staff has recommended that the OPF and MMF and truck maintenance facility be located at 2976 Horseshoe Valley Road – that additional engineering, environmental and other studies be done during Spring Summer 2016 to figure out what OPF technology to use and start planning and obtaining environmental approvals. Public meetings are to be held – with neighbouring landowners on March 23 and a public information session on April 19 – RFP preparation and release is to be done by early fall 2016 – results of this by early 2017 and a business case presented to Council in early 2017. So far $228K has been spent on siting a location.
I agree that an MMF and OPF will be required at some time in the future – I am as ecological as many others. County recent statistical results for waste management are unsatisfactory with respect to the increasing amount of garbage we create on average per person and poor with respect to the decreasing amount of organic (food) waste we put into green bins, choosing still to put organics into garbage bags. We need to get this turned around and improved starting now.
I believe that the order of the present OPF and MMF process moving forward needs to be altered and analyzed further. Springwater County Council passed a motion unanimously last week that, before continuing further with the Simcoe County procurement or development of the OPF or MMF, a comprehensive Business Case should be developed and presented to County Council and to Springwater Council and to the public. The Business Case should include, but not be limited to, a risk analysis, market sounding process, a preliminary value for money assessment, including capital and operating cost projections, incorporating all costs related to the MMF and OPF development and cost projections for building and running an MMF and OPF under various growth and technology assumptions, as well as recommended procurement and financing options. The Business Case should further include an analysis of the alternative options of entering into a contract or contracts with the best choice of service provider(s) to fulfill the County’s anticipated needs in waste management recycling, under appropriate assumptions, for a 7 to 10 year period post 2018.It was further resolved that until such undertakings have been completed, the Township of Springwater shall not support the establishment of an OPF or a MMF within its jurisdiction and that a copy of the resolution will be forwarded to all members of the Council of the County of Simcoe, MPP’s and the Minister of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (which it has).
Estimates of costs of the MMF and OPF have been made by the County, including an estimated savings and payback amount for the MMF, but these are general estimates, with no thorough analysis behind them as yet. Similar OPF plants have totaled $50 million or more. Without any other indications as yet, it is assumed these projects would be debt financed, to be serviced over time from tax dollars.
I have researched and communicated with representatives from other similar ongoing Canadian waste management projects and their experience suggests that we need the Business case done now and not wait until Spring 2017, as is presently recommended. We need financial and engineering expertise assisting with this, working with staff, to analyze all aspects of the proposed projects and compare this to re-negotiating our current contracts for another term after they expire in 2018 and by then, our diversion rates will improve, there will be further technology improvements, the Provincial government will by then likely allow for a revenue generating after market for the biogas by product and possibly we will be able to determine a better site location. See a more complete discussion of this on my blog – http://donallen.ca/don-allen-comments-regarding-proposed-opf-mmf/. Also, County Council will have discussed this further on March 8th – see an update at https://www.facebook.com/deputymayordonallen/
Long Range Financial Plan Preliminary Forecast
The Finance and Audit Committee met with staff and Hemson Consulting to review the preliminary LRFP forecast last week in advance of this coming to Council on April 6th. Arising out of this meeting will be further refinement to the model so I won’t presently get into too much detail. Base parameters were reviewed with respect to tax rate stabilization, asset management, debt and rates, fees and charges. Property assessment forecasts were reviewed, along with housing distribution in the various service areas. Volume driven costs are those that are required to maintain service levels in response to overall growth. Capital induced costs result from having to staff and operate facilities as they are constructed. These were reviewed for the 2016 to 2035 period in the low, medium and high growth scenarios. Non-tax revenue (eg. fees and charges) were reviewed in relation to projected operating costs. Projected net capital spending was examined under the scenarios based on potential growth. Capital reserves and debt were projected. All of this was combined to reflect potential funding gaps under the three growth scenarios and options for addressing this were discussed. During March, the LRFP will be further worked on to produce draft results to Council on April 6th. In late April a draft will be presented to stakeholders. In early May the results and proposed LRFP will be presented to the Finance and Audit committee and June 1 the final LRFP and policies will be presented to Council for approval.
Mayor French reports elsewhere that last weekend we had a very enlightening demonstration of the recruitment process and tests for potential firefighters being recruited. It is very thorough and efficiently conducted, with female and male candidates taking the tests. Once we figured out that Lee’s gear might fit me, he let me suit up and they started me through my paces, along with Mayor French. What a workout. As expected, you have to be quite fit to do this – therefore we didn’t quite do the full test! The other candidates at first must have thought Springwater is desperate for hiring people, letting these old guys try out. When it was explained to them, they just smiled… Pictures of me taking some of the testing can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/deputymayordonallen/posts/1119525881421329