Mayor Dave's Top View

Author Archive

About "Dave Augustyn"

Dave Augustyn is the Mayor of the Town of Pelham and is a Niagara Regional Councillor. His political career began December 2006. Mayor Dave chairs Budget Review Committee and co-chairs the Region's Corporate Services Standing Committee. He also chairs the Smarter Niagara Steering Committee, and the Development Charges Task Force, and the the PenWest Power Corporation Board. Mayor Dave also co-coaches a Pelham Soccer Team and is a member of the Children's Liturgy Team at St. Ann's Church. He lives in Fenwick with his wife, Carol, and their two children.

Opening Up the Regional Chair’s Election

- November 23rd, 2014
new-regional-council-chambers-compressed

Niagara Regional Chair’s view in Council Chamber

While Niagara Region Staff will host sessions to help orientate new (and returning) Councillors this week, the members of the newly elected Regional Council won’t officially convene until Thursday, December 11 at 10:00 AM.

After the Regional Clerk officially administers the “Declaration of Office” for our 30 members, the first “order of business” will be the election of a Chair.

Candidates from Council Only:
In the first phase of the election, the Regional Clerk will ask for nominations for candidates; only Regional Councillors can run as a candidate to become Chair. Following nominations, each candidate will have a chance to speak for five minutes.

While the Municipal Act does allow the election of any qualified elector from Niagara to be nominated and elected Chair, the precedent from the last seven elections and the policy from two resolutions from Regional Council (in 1991 and again in 2013) means that Council elects a Chair from the recently elected members of Council.

Run-Off Election & Secret Ballot:
If two or more candidates run for Chair, the Clerk will oversee the “run-off” election (like used in political leadership contests). For example, if after the first ballot, no candidate receives a majority of the votes – 16 – then the candidate with the fewest votes will be removed from consideration, and Councillors will vote on another ballot. The voting continues until one candidate receives a majority.

Interestingly, while the Municipal Act allows for the option of secret or open ballots, Niagara Regional Council stipulates that the vote for Regional Chair “shall” be a secret vote.

Filling the Vacancy:
Following their election as Chair, the person must “give up” his or her seat – creating a vacancy on Council. How is that seat filled? Regional Council follows the advice of the local City or Town Council: the options include a by-election, appointing the next candidate in the last general election, appointing another qualified elector. In the case of filling the Chair’s seat, precedent has been to appoint the next candidate.

Opening Up the Election:
The Regional Chair holds an extremely important role in Niagara. Not only does she or he set the legislative and economic agenda and preside over Regional Council, the Chair also advocates for all of Niagara with Provincial, Federal, and other Governments.

Despite policies and precedents that preclude a direct election for Regional Chair, the process should be as open and transparent as possible. I applaud Niagara’s eight local Chambers of Commerce, local newspapers, and TV Cogeco for organizing a public debate of candidates for Chair on December 3. I hope that this effort begins the discussion about who we should elect as Niagara’s Regional Chair for the 2014-18 term of Council.

You may provide your ideas and feedback to Mayor Dave at mayordave@pelham.ca or read past columns at www.pelhammayordave.blogspot.com.

Transitioning to a New Pelham Council

- November 17th, 2014

PassBattonCollageWith our last meeting of the 2014-18 Council term on November 17, some have asked me about our transition to a new 2014-18 Council.

As a result of the municipal election on October 27, our new Council will be very similar to our current Council; myself and five Councillors – Gary Accursi, John Durley, Catherine King, Peter Papp, and Richard Rybiak – were re-elected and will return. Only one new person – Marvin Junkin – was newly elected, so it will be important to include his ideas and efforts into the new Council.

Since it helps to know each other socially as we work together closely on your behalf, we will gather together for a breakfast this week. Then, as is a tradition in Pelham, Council will meet socially with Department Heads at a dinner prior to Christmas as well as have a chance to participate in the Staff Christmas Party in mid-December.

But, predominately, the transition will include much work. Councillors-Elect will participate in an Orientation Session on November 24 to learn about the role of Council, meeting protocols, conflict of interest requirements, Council’s code of conduct, the Town’s accessibility standards, and our budget process and overview.

Your new Council will officially make our “Declaration of Office” at our Inaugural Meeting on Monday, December 1 from 6:30 PM at Old Pelham Town Hall, Ridgeville. Not only will this special meeting officially begin our public service of your Council, it will also be the first event in the newly revitalized facility. All are welcome, so please join us!

On December 3 your new Council will work together to develop a Strategic Plan for the Town. We will use this opportunity to not only focus Council on key strategic goals for the next four years (and beyond), but we will also include information, opinions, and ideas from the recent election.

On Monday, December 8 at 6:30 PM in the Council Chambers, your new Council wants to hear from you directly with ideas and suggestions about what we should include or not include in the 2015 Town Budget and future budgets. All are welcome to this Public Meeting. (You can also provide a written submission to ourbudget@pelham.ca or at Town Hall.)

So that your new Council better understands its fiduciary responsibilities, we will learn about the Town’s insurance coverage, and receive a legal briefing and a human resources overview on December 10.

We will hold our first full Council & Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting on December 15. Our Committee meeting will include presentations by department directors and a discussion of our 2015 Water & Waste Water budgets.

This is an exciting time! I look forward to working together with our new Council and our community to continue to improve our Town.

Construction “Season” Beginning in Pelham

- July 7th, 2014

I thought I better remind you of some road reconstruction projects in Pelham since we appear to be at the start of construction “season.”

“Uptown Fonthill” Reconstruction:
The Region is taking the lead on the reconstruction of Regional Road 20 from Peachtree Park to Lookout Street, and the reconstruction of Haist Street from Canboro Road to Highway 20 (one of the worst road sections in Pelham).RR20Sign-Pelham-Region
The works will include adding bike lanes, adding new sidewalks, upgrading the watermain, road reconstruction (including a turning lane to Haist Street North), and a new traffic signal.
We are also replacing the water main from just west of Pelham and up–the-hill (as part of our ongoing fight to rid the Town of cast-iron water pipes). The contractor will also resurface Regional Road 20 from Pelham Street to Peachtree to fix those persistent ripple-bumps.
Regional staff has assured me that Pelham Street will be open to allow for traffic flow during Summerfest.

Downtown Fenwick Revitalization:
At long last, we will be revitalizing Downtown Fenwick this year!
This project includes reconstructing Canboro Road and part of Maple Street (fixing yet another poor road section), part of Church Street, and the Welland Road intersection.
Just like improvements in Pelham’s other Downtowns, we will bury the hydro lines.
In addition, we will replace the storm sewers and tie them correctly into systems on adjoining streets; with a high water table, this deep storm–sewer work will require the contractor to partially “dewater” the area.
All the significant landscaping improvements will not only make Downtown Fenwick more quaint and walkable, it will also honour the historic (and recently refurbished) flagpole.
Based on the pre-construction meeting on June 26, the contractor will start dewatering by mid-July.

Port Robinson Road – Phase Two:
As you know, the Town recently reconstructed Port Robinson Road from Pelham Street to Station Street and added bike lanes and sidewalks. Now, we are continuing to enhance walkability and cycle-ability by reconstructing Port Robinson – from Station Street to Rice Road.
In addition to bike lanes, sidewalks on both sides, and a reconstructed road, we will also be supporting further development on both the North and South sides of Port Robinson by installing sewers. Folks currently on Port Robinson will be able to connect to the sewers (if they so choose to stop using their private septic systems).
The works will also add storm-sewers and help deal with chronic ditch and water issues in the area.

As construction “season” begins in Pelham, I appreciate your patience and understanding. I also look forward to the completion of these and many other improvements in 2014!

Happy Canada Day in Pelham!

- June 30th, 2014

IMGP0897_1024x768As we take this opportunity to gather and to proudly celebrate all it means to be Canadian, let’s also celebrate all the wonderful features about our Town!

From breathtaking vistas, to babbling brooks, to plentiful orchards and rich agricultural soil, Pelham enjoys a refreshingly natural and rural character. This natural character especially stands out during the spring and summer.

From the historic settlements of Effingham, Fenwick, Fonthill, Ridgeville, and North Pelham, the Town of Pelham remains grounded with a distinctive, small-town feel.

Home to diverse and creative businesses, Pelham also offers unique goods and services to residents and visitors. Their continued success depends on our patronage.

You and I are also blessed to have so many of our neighbours working to make our Town a prosperous, vibrant and caring community. I continue to marvel at the work and dedication of so many generous volunteers who form the foundation of our vibrant community. From the Fenwick Lions Carnival, to the weekly Farmer’s Market, to the Fonthill Bandshell Concert Series, to Pelham Summerfest, to the Canada Day Parade, volunteers organize and run our Town’s significant public events. From Communities in Bloom, to the Horticultural Society, to those that have “adopted a road”, volunteers work to beautify our Town. In every sport from baseball and hockey, to soccer and tennis, volunteers – like the coaches, convenors, and score keepers – ensure that our children enjoy the fun-of-the-game.

We also live in a peaceful, safe community with great schools, and many recreation opportunities. We enjoy clean water, wonderful libraries, and a great mix of fully-accessible neighbourhood and community parks.

A dedicated police service, devoted volunteer firefighters, and expert emergency personnel protect you and I from harm. We have fair access to good and affordable healthcare.

We enjoy freedoms of conscience and religion, of thought, belief, opinion and expression, of assembly, and of association. We are free from persecution and from tyranny.

And, while we may have some work in a few of these areas, when compared on a global scale, we fare very well and should be very thankful.

Council and I are committed to working together with you to preserve our Town’s unique urban and rural blend and to ensuring that Pelham maintains our distinctive, small-town feel as we grow. We are also committed to Pelham becoming the most vibrant, creative, and caring community in all of Niagara.

As you and your family and friends commemorate our country’s 147th Birthday, I hope you will join me in celebrating and in giving thanks for our Pelham and our Canada.

A “Thank You” Call about Pelham’s Property Taxes

- June 23rd, 2014

PropertyTaxChart-2004-2014I wasn’t surprised when Elaine (the Town’s long-serving and extremely dedicated taxation clerk) told me that “John” had called about his residential property taxes. But, I was pleased to learn that he was calling to thank the Town because his property tax bill decreased.

You see, John makes a point of calling the Town every time we send out a tax notice; that means every six months he calls Elaine or me to complain about his taxes.

I understand that John has generally been pleased with Pelham’s modest property tax increases over the years.

For example, the average increase of property taxes on your combined residential property tax bill for each of the last four years was 1.5% (for a four-year total increase of 6.0%). (For the previous four years – from 2007 to 2010 – it was 1.8% (total increase 7.3%).)

At the same time, inflation for the last four-year period was 7.35% or an average of 1.79% per year.

That means that Pelham’s residential taxes increased 1.35% below inflation over the last four years. (To review a chart of Town of Pelham Residential Property Tax changes from 2004 to 2014, please click here.)

So what has been John’s complaint?

John called in the past because his property taxes increased greater than the amount we publish each year. For example, in 2011, the average property tax bill decreased by 0.1%, while John’s increased. That meant a hit on his pocket book while others got a break.

How is it possible that he got a break this year, when the average residential property taxes increased by 0.9% in 2014?

Well, the answer is because the 0.9% average increase is only for an average residential property assessed at $298,000 and that increased an average of 2.2% (the average increase of all increases in residential assessment).

But, if your assessed value increases more than the average increase you will pay more than average.

For example, if the assessed value of your home increased by 4% from 2013 to 2014, that’s higher than the 2.2% average, and you would pay more than the 0.9% average property tax increase.

By the same token, if your home is like John’s property and your assessed value increased less than the average – say by only 1% (instead of the 2.2% average) – you will likely pay less property tax this year too!

I want to thank “John” for calling Elaine! Maybe it’s human nature…but most people call to complain, to report something, or to ask for an improvement. Only a generous few thank Town staff and express their appreciation for a program or service. Thanks, “John”!