By Kevin. J. Sabo
For the Advance
The members of Castor’s new Town council met for the first time since the election on Oct. 25.
Returning to the chambers from the previous council were Richard Elhard, Trudy Kilner, Brenda Wismer, and Kevin McDougall, who all retained their seats in the Oct. 18 election. Joining them in the chambers were newcomers Shawn Peach, Cecil Yates, and Don Sisson.
Prior to the business meeting, the new council held the annually required organizational meeting, at which the mayor and deputy mayor were chosen by council.
Coun. Trudy Kilner nominated Richard Elhard to retain the role of Mayor for the next year. Seeing no other nominations, the nomination was carried. Coun. Kilner was nominated to act as Deputy Mayor, which was also carried.
Also reviewed annually as part of the organizational is council renumeration. According to Coun. Brenda Wismer, the renumeration has only been raised once in the last decade, and that with increasing fuel prices, it should be raised.
“I feel bad taking a raise, but we have to catch up eventually,” said Wismer.
Deputy Mayor Kilner agreed with her colleague.
“I think what people might not realize is when we go to all these committee (meetings), we use our own vehicles, and we never put in for mileage,” said Kilner.
“It’s our vehicles, It’s our insurance.”
Newcomer Coun. Cecil Yates also agreed.
“I think it should be raised every year,” said Yates.
“The price of gas goes up every year.”
Administration recommended increasing the rates from $650 to $800 for the mayor, $500 to $675 for the deputy mayor, and $450 to $575 for the councillors, increases which council felt were too large a jump all at once.
As part of their regular council duties, each councillor sits on various boards and committees in the local area, including the Castor Public Library, Paintearth Adult Learning, Paintearth Economic Partnership Society, and Paintearth Regional Waste Management. These meetings can take the councillors to all corners of the County, and beyond, in their duties, which all add to wear and tear on their personal vehicles, as well as increased fuel costs.
Coun. Shawn Peach motioned that councillor renumeration be increased by $50 per month across all categories, as the item is reviewed annually anyways.
Due to a lack of income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Castor’s Golden Circle Club has been forced to hand the building back to the Town, at least temporarily.
Administration received a letter stating such from the club Oct. 13.
With the group now defunct, Castor Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) has approached council to take over the building, offering to pay $250/month for rent as well as an offer to do all building cleaning.
According to Chief Administrative Officer Christopher Robblee, with utility costs being what they are, it would require a, “Tax increase to pay for it.” A break-even rent for the building would be around $1200 a month.
Currently, Castor FCSS rents out two offices in the Town of Castor offices for $500 a month.
“I would seriously hate to see that building closed,” said Mayor Elhard.
Council had two issues with the FCSS request.
First, the Goldern Circle Club is hoping that this is only temporary, and in time they would be able to take over the building again, something council would be unable to guarantee if it gets rented out again.
“The Golden Circle cannot go back there in a year, not if we are renting it out,” said Kilner.
The second issue is the Town’s finances cannot afford to subsidize the rent at that low of a rate.
“That’s not feasible,” said Coun. Don Sisson.
Ultimately, council opted to table the matter to give all council members time to think about options and ask questions regarding costs of utilities. The matter will be addressed again at the next council meeting.