The warden of Richmond Co. says with some recent projects in mind, the past year hasn’t been too bad.
Brian Marchand says they’ve partnered with the Village of St. Peter’s and were able to extend water to about 50 homes in the French Cove area.
He says they also extended water and sewer to Toulouse St. after getting provincial and federal money.
In a year-end interview, Marchand tells The Hawk a water treatment plant was also a big accomplishment the year.
“One of the bigger projects that we took on was a new treatment plant in the Louisdale-Evanston-Whiteside area.”
Marchand says all those projects will probably be completed by March.
The warden says the tourism project provided for an interesting start to the year.
Councillors voted to withdraw from their contract with federal officials at their county council meeting in March.
Officials with ACOA had agreed to pay one-third of the $6, 600, 000 project.
Marchand says it was a tough start to 2017.
“There was some challenges- we started off the year by making a big decision with the tourism plan that hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent,” he says. “We had decided to not go any further at this point with that.”
Maris Freimanis, Interim CAO at the time, said over $500, 000 was spent on the project.
The warden says things didn’t go as he planned for the county’s organizational review.
Marchand says some staff positions were eliminated, and that’s leading to people wondering if that should have been the case.
He says it has resulted in heavier workloads for other staff members.
Marchand tells The Hawk some salary cuts were also established, while other staff members saw a bigger paycheck following the review.
“Some of the bothersome things to me was, we had maybe 75% of the staff that took salary cuts,” he says. “Yet, some had some increases in their salaries; I didn’t think that was fair.”
Marchand says he can’t speak for other councillors, but the issue had a lot of debate.
He says they’ll have to move forward the way things are.
Marchand says he’s optimistic about their recent hiring of a new chief administrative officer.
Louis Digout took over interim CAO duties in July; he replaced Maris Freimanis whose contract expired in June.
Officials announced the hiring of Kent MacIntyre at their monthly municipal council meeting in October.
Marchand says he hopes MacIntyre will be able to settle some of the controversy down.
“There will always be something,” he says. “Hopefully the CAO will be able to bring some calm to a lot of the things that have been happening and hopefully be able to put the fires out that are going to happen in the future.”
Marchand says controversy will always have a place in politics; they’ve been dealing with travel expense policy issues.
He says MacIntyre will start Jan. 1.
Marchand says getting the incoming CAO established in his new role is one of the goals in the New Year.
He says he also hopes they can do better with their grant policy; he wants changes to the structure of it.
“The way I would have liked to see it, would have been that we decide it during budget deliberations- the groups that are getting money, organizations that are getting money,” he says. “To me, a lot of those should be organizations that service all of Richmond Co.”
Marchand says after the main decisions are made during budget deliberations, they could then leave a portion of money for ’emergency situations.’
He says if they were to make a change to the policy, it would have to be a slow transition.