State of the Town Address (term report) to the community of Norman Wells from Mayor and Council 2019-2021
“The Town of Norman Wells has a diverse economy and is a place of equal access and opportunity which values sustainable growth, safety, community engagement for all residents and visitors. We see our community as being a welcoming regional hub which works with other Sahtu communities for the benefit of our Town and the Region.”
Our focus has been one of construction with and for our community. We thank each of you for your input on the many important issues faced over this term. Your input has allowed us to move forward in providing non-political governance for the good of our community long term.
- Worked diligently to develop an environment of respect and welcome for our employees and community and are presently reviewing Council’s Procedural Bylaw to ensure ethical conduct by Council
- Difficult and unpopular decisions, service levels, landfill. These decisions are often based on the regulatory bodies we are subservient to, such as the SLWB in relation to our Landfill.
- Actions of the Mayor and Council are based on the strategic plan developed when first elected and which will stay in place as a baseline for the new council.
- Planning with a focus on a quality future for Norman Wells
- We were told that this process would require patience. We are protecting the town’s interests, not our own. Trust that we are not hiding anything on purpose, solely seeking justice and accountability. We are aware that many of our residents are curious about the process, but we cannot and will not compromise the cases. At any given time, there are corporate issues that we must deal with as confidential this is only one of those situations.
- Ours is a “take the high road, play the long game” approach as these cases take time, civilly and criminally. These issues have not placed a financial hardship on the corporation.
We have operated on fact in all areas of responsibility and where possible we are open to sharing information.
Council attended meetings and salaries: Payment for council and #meetings is based on a monthly stipend and there are no extra payments other than per diems and honorariums for out-of-town meetings and conferences.
Mayor at $21,000.00 per annum paid out at $1,750.00 per month.
Councillors at a total of $8,282.85 per month in total
- Alexis Peachy as Deputy Mayor at $18.000.00 per annum
- Each remaining councillor at $15,000.00 per annum
- Council meetings- approx. 78 meetings
- Ministerial- 5 meetings
- Public Hearings- 3
- Committee meetings- approx. 80 meetings
- For the 2020 year per diems and honorarium were as follows:
- Frank Pope – $4,201.70, most of which were for legal needs
- JP Bernard – $2,303.10
- Trevor Smith – $2,882.70
- David Wever – $1,934.00
Council committees and working groups: each committee is comprised of Council representation, volunteer committee members and administrative support.
- Planning and Development
- Economic Development
- Diversity and Inclusion
- Economic Development Conference Working Group: Council with the economic development committee are planning a Sahtu regional conference for summer 2022
- Multipurpose Recreation/cultural Center Working Group
COVID-19 Thanks to the community for understanding the limitations placed on us with COVID-19 restrictions, we could not have done it without you!
State of Emergency COVID-19 fourth wave management in conjunction with local, regional, and Territorial EOCs. We are proud of the fact we provided housing, volunteer management, food services and personal and community supports, real time communications, and management of the Community Emergence Response Committee We were financially and human resource ready. The loyalty and care of our staff and community volunteers are invaluable.
Sport and Recreation Programs and Events Since September 2020
- Open Hockey
- Parks Day
- Youth Centre Initiatives
- Meat and Tidy
- Figure Skating
- Public Skate
- Family Skate
- Disco Skates
- Cross Country Skiing
- Day Camps
- Friday Night Sports
- Basketball Development Programs
- Cooking Classes
- Arts and Crafts
- Kid’s Movie
- After School Fitness
- Open Fitness
- After School programs
- Splash Day
- Easter Events
- Christmas Activities
- Spring Fling
- Canada Day
- Parks Day
- Youth Centre Initiatives
- Meet and Tidy
Quality of life supports all provided at no extra cost to the community. These programs were and are consistently contributed to by our community members. Planning future facilitation of food bank, warming centre and daycare (either a drop-in, full-time or subsidized day home model) with interested parties and users. With partnerships we can succeed.
- Community Gardens
- Food pantry
- Food support with food bank Canada
Town planning: Our community is at a crossroads in its history. Community input gathered reflected a collective understanding for the need for grounded planning. Thank-you all for your extensive engagement and input on each of these plans. Each of these plans has an implementation plan in place. Each of these plans can be viewed on our new website.
- Community plan
- Zoning Bylaw
- Recreation master plan and building condition assessments on recreation facilities
- Landfill Bylaw, work plan and future development
- Economic Development Strategic Plan
Human Resource approach:
- Fully staffed, all jobs advertised locally first
- Staff training provided, notable success on courses taken by staff; 95% average
- In-house staff provide invaluable resource pool for all departments and are completing priority work i.e., Landfill work at substantial savings as per community and water board requirements.
- Staff home purchases
- Hire local and invest in training
- Mentorship models
- Staff satisfaction levels at 95%, we are once again becoming an employer of choice
- Transition plans for manager levels in all departments
- Institutional memory = sustainability and follow through on plans and investments
- Possibility of pool opening are working on in community training plan for lifeguards
Contractor approach: goal of supporting more local businesses, ensuring less politicizing of the contractor/town relationship
- Fair awarding of contracts, regardless of contractor
- No undue conflict of interest by councillor/contractor: diligently managed at Council level
- Sole sourced to contractor when need for expediency, been open public meeting process
- New lens on contract work with goal of saving operational funds and investing in capital projects
- An RFQ for equipment was posted to the community. All quotes included in our resultant listing.
- The agreement refers to agreed upon rates being set for the term of the agreement, it does not mean we will use the equipment. This is not an award of a contract, but a process which affords the Town the ability to access equipment when and if required economically and efficiently
- This was not a process by which to give any one contractor management control over the landfill, the Town manages the Landfill
- Our workers are FTE and as such are available for more work than equipment operation, and this year considering an increase in SLWB requirements, and a community call for more management of the landfill we have hired a Landfill Coordinator fulltime and a landfill MSW half-time. Both positions are available to offset work in other areas as needed and vice versa.
- Contracting is more expensive than in house staffing in many cases
- Council has attempted to support other small and mid-sized in town contractors: “Jackfish, graveyard, resting areas, elder’s driveways and contractors
Please note that during the 2018 fiscal year end audit, the 2016 and 2017 asset amortization was recorded in error. The amortization at those year ends were recorded using double declining balance and the Town policy on amortizations to use straight line amortization. It appears the audit work did not factor the Town policy for those fiscal years. In completing the 2018 audit the new Auditor with assistance from GL Services made a required prior period adjustment of approximately $2,500.000 to the total accumulated surplus noted in the 2017 audit report.
Financial oversights and spending management:
This is the process for issuing cheques at the Town of Norman Wells. When an invoice comes in it is coded and approved by the department manager and then it goes to the finance clerk. It is then approved for payment by the finance manager or SAO before a cheque is issued. Cheques are not issued without an invoice or receipt. When cheques are being processed, they are approved again by the finance manager or the SAO, and then they are produced by the finance clerk. She then arranges to have them signed by two signatories in the office. The cheques don’t leave the office to be signed. The signatories come into the office to sign the cheques and then they are distributed.
This is the process for credit card charges. There is only one credit card at the office. Anything bought on the credit card must be approved the same way the cheques are. We have tightened up our procedures for cheques and credit cards with checks and balances in place.
- All attempts made by Council, Administration and auditors to follow existing Council financial policy and Bylaws
- All attempts made to adhere to Council approved budgets
- Resolution of Council to transfer monies from restricted accounts
- Ensure that grant regulations at NWT and Federal levels are strictly adhered to ie: required 25% share of grants is covered by cash
- A fair and equitable RFP and RFQ process
- No budgeted or unbudgeted expense accounts for Council or Administration
- High level overtime oversight such as:
- All overtime approved by Department Manager, Finance Clerk, Finance Manager and SAO
- No overtime for any Managerial positions, including SAO
Segregation of duties:
- Petty cash kept in locked safe and reconciled weekly and monthly, segregation of duties is such that only one staff member has access to
- One who reconciles the bank does not do data entry
Bank account totals as of July 31, 2021
$4,794,568 Gas Tax
$592,646 Capital Reserve
$415 General Reserve
Total Bank Accounts $8,442,929
Receivables still to come in
$4,276,000 Property tax payments
$250,000 Covid Expense recovery
$1,500,000 ICIP (investing in community infrastructure program) for drainage work
$2,400,000 in SCF (Small communities fund) for remaining chip seal
$570,000 GST refund to the end of 2020
$150,000 GST refund to July 2021
Total incoming $9,146,000
The Town is required to cash flow all grant funded projects while ensuring that all our budgeted operational needs and unforeseen obligations are met. This means that we must be strategic with projects going forward. We are also obligated with many of our grants to match grant funds with a 25% share i.e.: we need to match every $1Million with $250,000.00.
We are bound to previously negotiated contracts for Water/Sewer and Civil Works and Garbage. We took the option of extending each of these contracts 2 years to provide economic stability to each company during COVID uncertainty.
- Strategic cash flow decisions
- Priority setting i.e., making payroll and pay bills
- Audit as per policy of TNW which requires straight line amortization
- We were able to minimize water rate increases in negotiation with our provider by extending existing contract for 2 years
- Draft budget in preparation for new council will be presented to Council second week of September
- Maintenance budgets and plans i.e.: for failing chip seal
- Inspections ensure that any work we choose to do is warranted i.e., bca on rec facilities
- Equal treatment in collection of outstanding town accounts on taxes and utilities. Many thanks to the community.
- Grants, obtain grants through continual staff effort on research and application
- Every effort made to cover capital costs with grant funds
- Purchase of Backhoe, dump truck and skid steer
- Drainage study and plan
- Park work and creation, rest areas, skateboard and bmx track equipment
- Trail work, fully walkable town
- Road work
- Pool upgrade
- Playgrounds upgrade to requisite safety regs.
- Ball diamond work
- Bandy lake creation of an additional day use picnic site for our residents
- Southside drainage, higher standard
- Town wide chip seal and maintenance budgets, a town wide chip seal project rfp in planning stages and funds already ensured for entire project to quality standard
- Junky george’s last year a good start on clean-up, next stage remediation we will lead by example (GNWT lots)
- LED Sign
- Town street signage x75
- New picnic tables to be installed at each rest area
- Pool work
- New website
- New financial system
- Utilities work; upgrade of filter underdrains at Water Treatment Plant and filter media replacement
- Replacement of fire hydrants and repair hydrant boxes on the above ground portion of the town’s water mains
Council has approved a Capital Project Funding Strategy. This will cover capital plan investments going forward for 2021/2022. This plan will ensure:
- the corporation’s ability to legitimately cover its 25% obligation on ICIP and BCA grant obligations
- the corporation’s ability to cash flow projects moving forward without jeopardizing its ability to consistently meet payroll and pay the bills
- Departmental actions with MACA, Finance, ENR, and Lands
- Advocacy to get GNWT to take responsibility for tax arrears and leased lot clean-up and Advocacy for GNWT joint responsibility on landfill issue
- Mini inspection and results, successes
- MACA – note inspection and MACA advice
- AITPP – the importance of owning our own information, and for every staff past, present and future to know their personnel information is held only by the Town.
- Opening negotiations on new IORL contract on Quarry that is fair to Town residents and businesses