Hall Monitor: Lesson Learned

Kingston City Council Meetings, #ygkcWell – there goes another summer! Last night, our city council got back on the standard “first and third” schedule for meeting 20-2012 of Kingston City Council. You can find the agenda and addeds on the city’s website.

You know, in all of my time watching council, I’ve come to learn a few lessons. First, always do your reading. Second, always have coffee on hand. My third lesson was proven very well last night. As I (and others) skimmed the agenda for last night’s meeting, the general consensus was that the brief agenda would mean an early release. We also all thought a few items would be a quick vote, while others would be a lively debate. And while council didn’t (barely) need a motion to extend, the “quick items” were debated and my discussion items passed without hesitation. The lesson? Never try to predict council.

Long debates were mostly around spending, though a few procedural by-law items got swept up into the fun too. I’d actually almost expect a few changes to by-law number 1 from tonight’s meeting. Our first discussion, came over the proposed extension on tax arrears situation for a property on King St. We then saw major questions and answers about a briefing on funding levels for Emergency Hostel Services, Community Homelessness Programs and Ontario Works Discretionary Benefits, then on gateway sign lighting and a motion about the nominations committee. No debate, though (Well, no noticeable debate) on more than 25 million dollars of spending.

So – what passed? Pretty much everything. Council agreed to install lighting on the gateway signs, adjust (some add, some remove, other shuffle) spending for the low income supplements, and spend more than $6 million dollars on the next part of the Princess St. reconstruction project, and spend $19.5 million dollars on a new building for Utilities Kingston and city staff.

What a long, strange, night indeed.

I seemed to have some difficulty remembering which account was which last night – so some tweets came from my personal account. Not wanting to have you miss out, I’ve included them below. They’re marked in italics. Council is next scheduled to meet on September 18th – and it should be a good meeting: The OLG item is expected up on the agenda.

  • 7:40 PM: Settled in at the desk. Stream is up at http://t.co/8diLs9B8 – we’ll be starting shortly. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:44 PM: DING DING! A little late (7:43pm) start… But away we go! #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:46 PM: Closed meeting tonight has been approved; there’s a report from the closed meeting, too. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:47 PM: Report was an informational item, no vote needed. Was about the Mack St. item. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:48 PM: Quick back and forth between Dep. Mayor @JimNeill3 and @MayorOfKingston about the Mayor’s chair. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:48 PM: Addeds (Minus the OLG item) approved. Coun. Glover asking about procedure for adding a reconsidered item. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:50 PM: There’s apparently a grey area about what can and can’t be spoken about when asking for a reconsider be added via addeds. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:52 PM: Looks like the OLG reconsideration will NOT be added to the agenda. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:54 PM: Onto a quick presentation of the Bronze-level bike friendly status for #ygk. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:55 PM: [email protected] suggests bronze is not satisfactory; still two more levels to achieve. #mayorjokes #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:56 PM: No delegations or briefings (right now, one later); we’ve got a petition request for traffic calming from Coun. Downes. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:57 PM: Specifically, it’s for traffic calming on Crossfield Ave (In behind Chapters/Costco). #ygk #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:59 PM: A pair of Congratulations and a condolence motion up next; then we’re into reports. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:00 PM: Report 96; dealing with all but the Tax Arrears item first. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:02 PM: [email protected] asking for details about number of years behind (5) and payment totals and plan details. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:03 PM: The property in question, by the way, is over near Lake Ontario Park; 1002 – 1110 King St. West. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:04 PM: [email protected] rules one of @JimNeill3’s questions out of order; Jim: “Thank you, you’re on your game.” #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:05 PM: City staff says the first payment from the suggested plan is already in hand, pending approval of council. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:07 PM: District councillor Coun. Schell asking about the work the city did on outstanding work orders; being billed to buyer. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:08 PM: Coun. Schell asking about if the property is currently for sale; @MayorOfKingston says it’s not in order. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:10 PM: Coun. Glover asking about the possibility of withholding zoning changes until taxes are paid. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:10 PM: City staff says that some zoning is done; some further approvals may add condition for zoning prohibition. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:11 PM: [email protected] confirming the $150k is certified; it is. Jokes about what the NSF fee might be. #mayorjokes #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:12 PM: Into report 97; Water Source Protection item is up. @JimNeill3 asking about cost recovery on new costs. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:13 PM: Staff says that no other municipality has charged to date for implementation. item will be on 2013 budget. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:15 PM: Source water item passes; we’re about to get a staff briefing for Emerg. Hostel Services. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:18 PM: Com. Hurdle is discussing the cuts and changes from ODSP and OntarioWorks. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:19 PM: City will cap at $10.00/case/mo; currently pays about $13.00. Focus on vision and dental.
  • 8:19 PM: City’s homelessness plan is currently being developed; will be implemented in 2014. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:22 PM: Changes being proposed by staff would result in no savings in 2013 or 2014; but would save us $165k come 2015. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:25 PM: Staff is suggesting that by accepting propsed changes, 2015 would see overall cost saving of more than $500,000. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:27 PM: Question from Coun. Downes about the $10.00 discretionary spend. Wants to know how we get to 10 from 13. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:30 PM: Quick procedural question from @MayorOfKingston on the number of questions a councillor may ask. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:36 PM: Ongoing Q & A from Coun. Downes and staff about health funding; specifically dentures. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:36 PM: The procedural question, btw, seems resolved; councillors are limited to 2 Qs of delegates; this is a briefing. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:39 PM: [email protected] confirms; councillors may “badger staff” with questions since we’re in a briefing; not delegation. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:42 PM: Sorry for the missed tweets – were going to my personal account; Watch for the FULL copy tomorrow on the site. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:49 PM: [email protected] asking for clarification of the role between the city and the county in terms of which funding comes from where. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:53 PM: Coun. Glover asking about the impact of the reduction; asking about 20% based on a past report of 20% of kids in low income situs. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:56 PM: Com Hurdle re-affirms that the reductions and changes here are just affecting adults; children are funded by the province. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:58 PM: High praise from Coun. Glover for Com. Hurdle on her knowledge of the reports and information. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:59 PM: Sounds like Coun. Glover is trying to summarize the report so far; seeking a definition of core services. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:04 PM: Coun. Hutchison asking about the huan cost; wants to konw how this will affect people and in which areas. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:07 PM: Comm. Hurdle says that for the most part, level of funding wont change; it’s a change in formula and allocations. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:08 PM: Com Hurdle: “How many individuals will be impacted? We don’t know that yet. That’s an unknown”. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:12 PM: Coun. Hutchison asking about timelines; wondering if this 2-year plan to hit reserves may extend. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:12 PM: Com. Hurdle says that the planning into 2015 means that it’ll be in budget then, not reserves. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:16 PM: Q&A with Comm. Hurdle has wrapped up. We’re into debate on the motion itself. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:17 PM: [email protected] concerned that the jobless will stay jobless if they can’t get the glasses or dental work needed to be employable. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:22 PM: [email protected] is hoping that budget time will allow for debate; wants to maintain all funding at current levels. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:23 PM: Coun. Paterson reminding council that this is a provincial thing; says they’ve put the city in a tough spot and they know it.
  • 9:24 PM: Coun. Paterson adds that there needs to be a strategy; the city can’t afford to bail out the province when they step back. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:28 PM: Postcard distributed to council members about this issue. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:28 PM: [email protected] says that he won’t miss an opportunity to take a shot at the prov. government. #mayorjokes #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:31 PM: One more try at the postcard handed out this evening. #ygkc ^TV http://t.co/4h3jP5xI
  • 9:31 PM: Mayor says the issue is as simple as asking if we raise taxes to backfill the provincial government. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:32 PM: [email protected] adds that in past decade, tax rate has come down from 11% to a little above inflation. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:33 PM: [email protected]: “I signed [the postcard] as soon as I read this. I agree with this.” #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:34 PM: And at last, we vote; very quickly passed. Expected a recorded vote there… only saw maybe one member opposed. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:36 PM: Coun. Glover calling a point of order that the sign item isn’t a reconsideration. Mayor agrees; item changes to a reconsideration. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:38 PM: So; a bit of agenda shuffle. The July 17-19 gateway sign item is now on agenda for a reconsideration. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:41 PM: So, new sign reconsideration motion (a $60k-increase in budget) has been approved for agenda. Debate away! #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:43 PM: Coun. Glover finds in interesting that the total sign cost is appx $340k; shortfall on last item was appx the same amount. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:44 PM: Coun. Glover says the question is really if we need to spend $300k+ on new signs when other services are being cut. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:45 PM: [email protected] “We spend money all of the time to better enhance our community”;; references the 750k on train refurb. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:47 PM: [email protected] corrects @MayorOfKingston; that $750k was not to just paint the train. Mayor appreciates Neill’s role as chair. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:49 PM: The sign debate, btw, is over adding lighting to the new signs now, instead of a year from now. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:50 PM: Overall, adding lighting now would result in a cost savings. Adding lighting later would be more expensive. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:52 PM: Coun. Hutchison: Sign item is a want, really, not a need; the last item (the dental/vision one) is a need. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:53 PM: Coun. Hutchison: It’s hard to say this is okay, when there was such a debate on the last item. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:54 PM: Coun. Paterson: This item shouldn’t be voted against, just because it has the misfortune of being after the last one. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:57 PM: [email protected] agreeing with Coun. Paterson; that this item shouldn’t be denied just because of where it was on the agenda. #ygkc ^TV
  • 9:59 PM: Coun. Scott: Many of these signs will be in district. Looks forward to the new signs to bring hamlets together as part of city. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:00 PM: A reminder from @MayorOfKingston; declining tonight only really declines the changes. Legal issues if they reverse all. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:01 PM: 5 minute recess for a legal consult. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:11 PM: We’re back! Ruling is to go ahead as we were proceeding previously. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:13 PM: Sign item amendment carries. So does the item. We’re into a $19.5 million dollar building expansion. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:13 PM: Coun. Scott confirming that the utilities portion is coming from rates and not tax base. Staff confirms. Item passes. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:14 PM: I believe that passed, by the way, unanimously. Looked that way from my seat, anyway. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:15 PM: Heritage item (all but appointment item) pass in a lump. We’re dealing with debate on heritage committee appointments. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:20 PM: Comments from @councillorberg that this seems limiting; this type of motion should be adopted for all committees. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:21 PM: Coun. Paterson says that he agrees; this item is limiting and would be unfair to the other committees. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:23 PM: Coun. Hutchison asking how the heritage committee cand suggest something that would circumvent policy. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:24 PM: City Clerk says that the nominations committee already has the power to allow applicants to serve past current 6yr limit. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:24 PM: Coun. Hutchison notes that this request, then, seems to just ask council to reinforce the existing policy. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:27 PM: [email protected] is hopeful that this item passes; is eager to see the type of motion @councillorberg and Coun. Paterson suggest. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:28 PM: [email protected] is questioning how the heritage committee got itself into this position. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:30 PM: [email protected] we should not flip and get rid of everybody; adds that this standard needs to apply across the board, though. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:31 PM: [email protected]: This entire motion is just saying ‘Hey, nominations committee… go do your job’. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:32 PM: [email protected]: This should have been ruled out of order; it’s beyond the scope of the heritage committee. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:34 PM: The nomination committee, btw: @councillorberg, Coun. George, Coun. Hutchison, @JimNeill3, Coun. Paterson, @BrianReitzel. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:34 PM: Wow; off night for me. More tweets on the personal account. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:36 PM: Nominations committee item did pass. We’re into report 99; first bit on a tax write-off passes. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:36 PM: We’re looking at an interim policy for placement plaques on city facilities. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:37 PM: Coun. Glover: Says that a concern that came up has been “Excessive plaquing” within city hall. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:38 PM: Amendment on the floor; moved by Coun. Glover and seconded by Coun. Hutchison for exceptions. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:40 PM: Amendment on exceptions for the plaquing interim policy passes… And then… so does the policy. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:41 PM: Into report 100 (Cue the confetti?), a few appointments to ARCP working groups carries. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:43 PM: Report 101 (A committee resignation) passes too. We skim through Info. Reports and the Misc. Business items pass. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:44 PM: Quick joke from Coun. Hutchison that the Dep. Mayor (@JimNeill3) should be sent to the Whiskey Festival. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:45 PM: Notice of motion regarding the new Providence Care Centre from Coun. Hutchison. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:46 PM: Minutes pass. Through documents, communications. #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:47 PM: Joke from @MayorOfKingston that The Whig suggested this would be a short meeting. I thought it would be too, #ygkc ^TV
  • 10:47 PM: Bylaws done. We’re out. 10:47 pm. #ygkc ^TV
  • 11:12 PM: Thanks for following our #ygkc coverage tonight – check out the site tomorrow for @tommyvallier’s recap and the full tweet archive! ^TV #ygk

Thanks to reneilet for today’s original photo.


2 thoughts on “Hall Monitor: Lesson Learned

  • September 5, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Tommy – we have a rule with the TVCogeco crew. "Thou shalt not attempt to forecast the length of a Council meeting based on the agenda, for by doing so you will then jinx the meeting and preclude any opportunity to leave in a timely fashion". It seems that The Whig needs to put this in place as well, as the Sept 4 meeting demonstrated. Come to think of it, all media should keep it in mind.

Leave a Reply