At the latest meeting, United Counties of Prescott and Russell council passed a resolution accepting the recommendation made by Colliers Project Leaders (hired in late June by UCPR) regarding site selection for the new Prescott and Russell Residence.
The Review asked Stéphane Parisien, the UCPR’s CAO, to expand on that recommendation.
“Identifying the recommendations from the report would give landowners an opportunity to sell their property at an unfair price,” he wrote in an email.
Asked if he could say which municipality(ies) the recommendation included, he said, “We’ve narrowed it down to three potential sites that were identified in the consultant’s recommendation. That’s as much as I can say at this point.”
Council approved its final 2018 budget. The final tax increase? 2.7 per cent.
At the Commmittee of the Whole meeting, in early November, when the latest version was presented, Alfred-Plantagenet Mayor Fernand Dicare said the increase was “justifiable” considering the new services taken on by the Counties, most notably the fire dispatch contracts.
- Read more:UCPR budget revisions: more cuts needed
Overall, the Counties will be collecting $42.6 million in taxes this year, about $1.7 million more than last year. Growth accounts for $680,000 while the 2.7 per cent increase accounts for the remaining $1.1 million.
The new rate will only be applied in March or April next year, once the Counties receive final calculations from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation.
Julie Ménard-Brault, the Counties’ treasurer, reiterated that adopting the budget early allows to open projects earlier and potentially getting better prices.
Late in the meeting, Russell Mayor Pierre Leroux mentioned confusion at a recent fire in Russell he says was caused by old infrastructure. He asked Parisien for an update on the fire dispatch file, who explained the Counties are currently looking at three options: leasing a network, lease-to-own or buying a network outright.
Originally the plan was to simply lease a network, but “it now looks like owning the network may not be all that bad,” said Parisien.
To help with the decision he said he’ll be hiring a radiofrequency engineer to draft a request for proposal.
- Read more: UCPR mayors finalize fire dispatch agreement
“I know there’s no money in the budget to hire a radiofrequency engineer but it’s not going to cost a lot of money to prepare an RFP and I want someone that knows what they’re doing so that we can have more than two companies provide us with a solution,” said Parisien.
One thing, he said, was for sure: he wants a full DMR 100% system. DMR stands for Digital Mobile Radio; with this type of network, that means gear is not limited to a single type, brand or company.
The Review asked if there was timeline for the new network to come online and whether there was money in this year’s budget to do so.
“There is not presently any money in the budget to do so, but we’d find a way if needed. I doubt, however, that the migration would happen before the end of 2018. Mind you, the user gear would be covered by individual municipalities, whereas the Counties are looking to build the network,” wrote Parisien.
Entrepreneurship Centre grant
Every year since 2014, the Counties received a grant from the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science to deliver the Prescott and Russell Entrepreneurship Centre program that offers resources to local entrepreneurs.
The program was delivered by a third party in that time, but in April the Counties’ department of economic development took over.
Council signed a new agreement that would see the Counties received $170,050 over the next two years to continued delivering the program.