Council welcomes back Eby; operating budgets presented City rebranding plan also part of council deliberations
Heather Eby might be the City of Moose Jaw’s newest city councillor, but she’s not a raw rookie.
Eby emerged victorious from the recent by-election to fill the spot vacated by Don Mitchell’s resignation, claiming 41.13 per cent of the 3,161 votes. As a result, Eby finds herself in a familiar position after serving two terms with council beginning in 2009.
“I certainly wasn’t expecting there to be a by-election, but I always had hope that I would have a chance at another election and when this came open in the spring I was excited about it,” Eby said. “I really had to think it through because my family wasn’t completely on board right out of the gate, but it’s great to be able to serve the citizens of Moose Jaw again.” Eby’s prior experience came into play quickly – she was named the new chair of the personnel committee during her first meeting on Oct. 22 and had little difficulty settling into the ‘new’ position. “I hadn’t been away that long and it just felt really natural to be a part of it all and get back into it,” Eby said, adding that prior to her first visit with mayor Fraser Tolmie and city manager Jim Puffalt she was asked if she was there for her orientation.
“I was ‘nope, not really’,” Eby said with a laugh. “I just went and found the things I knew I needed and talked to the people I knew I needed to talk to and settled in a bit. There are some files and materials that I’m not aware of so I’m reading a lot and catching up a bit with those things, but as far as procedures and processes I’m pretty comfortable with it.”
So, now it’s down to business – and once Eby is back up to speed, it’ll be time to once again face the decisions that affect the City of Moose Jaw, both large and small.
“There’s always something to work on, things that come up and need to be dealt with and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to have a chance to do all that again,” Eby said.
Coun. Crystal Froese introduced a motion that “the city manager direct staff to create a formal policy framework that outlines governance requirements for third-party boards that hold agreements and/or contracts to steward property and/ or land owned by the City of Moose Jaw.” The motion came on the heels of the recent Downtown Field House and Facility controversy that saw three councilliors – Froese, Scott McMann and Brian Swanson – all receive varying level of sanctions for their actions while working on the DFFH board of directors. Tolmie supported the motion, saying the overall objective is to address governance issues that could occur on boards with city council involvement and ways to ensure clear and concise reporting when it comes to board meetings. The motion was referred to city administration, with a report expected early in the new year.
Council continued the process of updating the city’s strategic plan, using a report from the day-long ‘13 Ways to Kill Your Community’ discussion session with Doug Griffiths on June 7 as a base for the improvement and revisions.
City manager Jim Puffalt said putting operation plans and objectives into place going forward was going to be a key component for the process in coming months, with budgetary effects potentially revealing themselves by year’s end.
“If there’s something that has a budgetary impact and we don’t quite have the stepsby-steps done, we’ll address council at that time,” Puffalt said, adding that an action plan is expected to be put together in the new year.
Mayor Fraser Tolmie supported the motion to move forward.
“I think the community as a whole is happy with this and most councillors are happy with the presentation that happened,” Tolmie said. “A lot of the things since then we’ve been working on and putting into place just naturally, but I think we need to strike while the iron is hot and not lose momentum on this.”
Council received the operating budget proposal for the Moose Jaw Police Service, which is seeking a funding total of $9,809,647, up 3.35 per cent from last year’s $9,491,247.
The additional funds cover the wide variety of current programs, in addition to a host of new initiatives that include requirements surrounding cannabis legalization and increased focus on traffic safety and the MJPS’ ongoing participation in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls inquiry.
Moose Jaw Public Library head librarian Gwen Fisher addressed council with regards to operating budget estimates for 2019.
Their current estimate net requisition from the city is $1,199,591, an essentially status quo budget featuring an increase of $38,275 to continue to current level of programming service.