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RM of Wallace-Woodworth passes budget

And a ratepayer has his say
RM of Wallace-Woodworth office.

R.M. of Wallace-Woodworth Council Meeting May 10, 2022
An invoice was received from Highway 21 Truck and Trailer to cover the cost of damage to a vehicle on a municipal road. Municipal staff will draft a reply stating that this incident was determined to be due to a road hazard and should be claimed through Autopac.
For several years the Town of Virden and the RM of Wallace-Woodworth have held regular joint meetings. The next joint meeting will be on May 25, to discuss issues that affect both entities.
On June 13, Kola will hold their Community Meeting, and the Elkhorn School graduation is on June 25. A representative of Council will attend both events.
On June 24, the AMM district meeting will be held in Minto, hosted by the R.M of Grassland. A highlight of this meeting will be a discussion with Manitoba’s Minister of Municipal Relations, the Honourable Eileen Clarke and AMM President, Kam Blight.
 R.M. of Wallace-Woodworth will propose a resolution at this meeting that was passed at our April 12th Regular Meeting.This resolution calls for the Province of Manitoba to pass legislation like the Province of Alberta to allow municipalities the right to place a special lien on Oil and Gas companies to assist in the collection of unpaid property taxes. Coun. Caldwell will speak to the resolution.
As the COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease Council is discussing what sort of meeting protocol will be appropriate for this time of change. 
Councilors made suggestions for opening meetings to the public. CAO Mitchell noted that a media representative had requested access once it is allowed. Some felt that delegations could be restricted to one or two people when attending in Council chambers.
Coun. Humphries said that the use of remote meeting technology has advantages and wondered “As far as media and delegations are concerned, what’s stopping the media from using this format today?”
Reeve Canart finds that running a meeting on Zoom is more difficult than in person. He also does not want to impose restrictions in Council Chambers when most other venues are open to the public.
Most felt that the virtual option should remain open but in person meetings should become the norm once all concerned are comfortable. Council agreed to hold the subject for further discussion.
CAO Mitchell will draft a letter to Statistics Canada requesting a review of the most recent census data. Council had expressed concern that the census showed a large loss of population in the RM and would like clarification.
The provincial Disaster Financial Assistance program for spring flooding was announced recently, and a resolution was passed requesting municipal participation in this program to offset some costs to the RM and residents.
Coun. MacDonald wondered if the R.M. could supply flags to replace those that are missing or damaged at rural cairns and school sites. CAO Mitchell replied that the local MP could accommodate this. Reeve Canart suggested that a list of sites be prepared and submitted.
Ratepayer Brian Heaman joined the meeting via Zoom at 9:00am. He wondered why the delegation was through Zoom rather than in person. He chose to approach council after the recent public budget meeting held in person in the Elk’s Hall, where he said he was “shut down abruptly” and treated with a “condescending attitude”. He took exception to the budget decision to approve a 0.1 per cent increase to the mill rate to cover the deficit in the snow removal budget rather than drawing from the nominal surplus. He noted that the R.M. has large surpluses and he does not believe they should be used on big ticket items like a new municipal shop for road equipment but should be used to reduce the tax burden on ratepayers. He questioned the need for a new shop at this time.
Reeve Canart noted that the decision to build new shops has been in development for over 6 years and is not related to a current nominal surplus. He said that some of the current surplus is a result of projects that were budgeted but not completed due to delays that were out of municipal control, like getting locates of underground infrastructure in a timely manner. He also spoke of the long-term infrastructure plan for roads and bridges which  showed that some of these surpluses would need to be available over the next few years.
In response to Heaman’s question about the choice to hold this meeting by Zoom Coun. Stambuski said that there had been discussion at the current meeting about opening access up and allowing delegations to attend in person.
Coun. Caldwell apologized on behalf of Council saying, “our intention would never be to disregard anything that a ratepayer said ... or to make a ratepayer feel disrespected”.
The by-law authorizing the 2022 Financial Plan received second and third reading and was duly passed with unanimous approval.
After an in-camera session to discuss legal, labour and land items the meeting was adjourned at 10:15 a.m.