by Jill McCubbin
What are your strengths?
I’m a team player. The respect I have for our municipality’s residents, professional staff and for my co-councillors is never in question. I do not push my own agenda, I work towards compromise. I welcome and seek expertise from varied groups and individuals. One example: I worked with residents, staff and other Councillors to establish the long-term business awards event – now in its third successful year. Another example: Repeated compromise positions developed by the MM OVRT Taskforce (a committee of 12 interest groups working together with councillors) to Council and to County Council. In fact, every major municipal decision taken over the last four years is the result of compromise and team input.
I’m a hard worker. I participate on five monthly advisory committees, as well as on a number of temporary committees. I did not miss a regular Council meeting in four years, and I always prepare and do my homework (multi-hundred page agendas, reports, plus background research). I am not retired – besides my Councillor position, I have a few part-time positions as well as being self-employed as an artist and small business in Mississippi Mills.
I have integrity – the quality of being honest with strong moral principles and the ability to choose what is right over what is easy. An example: some citizens of Mississippi Mills still question whether I should/can be a library employee and a Councillor at the same time. I have explained the following quite often, but hurtful gossip continues to circulate, and so I include my explanation here. The situation: As an employee of the Library Board (not of the Municipality), my roles in our municipality are separate and distinct. I am a Councillor (a member of the Board/Council of our municipality) and I am an employee of the Library Board (a separate board, under separate legislation, from our municipality). Municipal Act legislation states that I can not be a member of and an employee of the same board – and as I’ve explained above, I do not fall into that category. This understanding of clear separation of roles has been supported by three separate legal opinions, the most recent July 2018.
Over the past four years, whenever library operational budget matters come to CounciI, I state a pecuniary conflict of interest and remove myself from discussions – because Council decisions in relation to library operations would affect me directly, as an employee of the Library Board.
What indicators show our finances are well-managed?
Two outside measures in particular indicate that Mississippi Mills’ finances are in good shape:
- The provincial Financial Information Return (FIR)
- Our annual, audited financial statements (Allan and Partners LLP, chartered professional accountants)
The FIR is a key indicator of financial health for municipalities in Ontario. It is the main data collection tool used by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The FIR is updated each year to comply with current legislation and reporting requirements. In 2016, the province announced 15 winners of the Financial Information Return (FIR) Awards. Mississippi Mills was recognized as one of these top 15 Ontario municipalities. There haven’t been announcements of award winners since that year, although Mississippi Mills files correctly and on time, each year, and the reports are on the municipal website.
Our annual, audited financial statements back-up this position as well. These show that municipal debt is entirely for investment in infrastructure (firetrucks, bridges, public works equipment, water & sewer, roads, buildings, etc). The annual payments for this debt load as a percentage of the overall revenue of the municipality is estimated to be at 12% in 2019 – well below the 25% limit that the province suggests as a maximum annual repayment ratio.
What do you stand for?
I support community building with a focus on safety, activity, accessibility, vibrant main streets and the beauty of natural and heritage spaces. Part of this is supporting recreation, festivals and arts & culture in our community. This focus benefits current residents and attracts tourists and new residents of all ages – bringing with them new businesses and jobs.
I will work with Council and staff to establish ways to evaluate, review and communicate the successes or fails, and/or the progress of municipal decisions. This includes incorporating new ways of engaging and involving citizens and new ways of reporting back and disseminating information across the municipality. Council needs to improve its leadership in these matters and specifically concentrate on improving communications in 2019.
I stand behind the municipality’s reliable, long term financial management plan. Having current and future residents share the costs of maintaining and replacing municipal infrastructure, which we will all use into the future, is the foundation of the plan.
I persevere in my belief that very good work has been done over the past four years by residents, municipal staff and Council. Many tough, complex decisions and compromises were made at Council.
Contributing my service to our community is a very important part of my life. The next Mississippi Mills Council can help build on our town’s strengths. We have many. This is the most cost-efficient and common sense approach to making our community the best it can be. Nothing is gained by sowing suspicion and dissent. So much is gained by building unity and respect. To create and sustain our high quality of life and standard of living here in Mississippi Mills are goals worth backing. Destruction is just destruction. Next Council will need to tackle all matters of business in innovative and collaborative ways. I am up for that.
Please vote for Jill McCubbin as your Almonte ward Councillor in Mississippi Mills. Visit www.jillforalmonte.com for more information.