Monday, July 28, 2014

More applicants hoped for seat on town council

The Town of Fort Frances has seen some interest from individuals seeking appointment to council, with one application having been returned so far.
Several application form also have been picked up but not yet returned.

With the application deadline coming up next Thursday (Feb. 28), Mayor Roy Avis said he hopes to see a good number of applicants to choose from.
“I hope that we get more applications,” he said Friday.
“The more people that are interested in our municipal government, the better it is, especially with the trying times facing our municipality right now.
“It would be very good to see some young people. We should have a mix,” the mayor added.
“It’s always nice to have representation from all sectors of the community—whether they’re labourers, teachers, business people, government workers.
“The broader a background that a councillor comes to the table with, the better because you get a complete cross-section of your community,” he reasoned.
Mayor Avis has been on council for 15 years, including nine years as a councillor and now six as mayor, and he shared his views on the role.
“I think it’s a very rewarding job because you get to find out how municipal government works; you get a better understanding of how it works,” he remarked.
“The learning curve is not an overnight thing,” the mayor conceded.
“It would probably take a person a good year to find out how the system works, how we interact with the provincial government and the federal government.”
There will be 20 months left in the current term of council once the successful applicant is appointed, and Mayor Avis feels this give the individual a good taste of what the job entails if they wanted to run for a four-year term when the 2014 municipal election rolls around.
The mayor said the time commitment of the job varies. During budget time, for instance, it’s a lot more hectic than at other times of the year.
The town has four divisions (Administration and Finance, Community Services, Operations and Facilities, and Planning and Development), each with its own manager and executive committee.
Each councillor sits on two of the four executive committees. Those committees review various matters and make recommendations to the committee of the whole of council, which then votes on whether to accept those recommendations.
There also are sub-committees, which meet less frequently than the four executive committees.
Mayor Avis estimated that, depending on the committees they are on, a councillor spends about 60 hours a month (15 hours/week) reviewing materials before meetings and then actually attending those meetings.
He said applicants must understand that members of council have a role to play in the corporation, which is the Town of Fort Frances.
“To compare it to a private business, you’re like a board a directors,” he explained. “You’re not a manager and you don’t manage the day-to-day operations.
“What you do is set policy, and that carries over to the management staff that you have.”
It’s also important to be a team player, the mayor said.
“If a person figures they’re going to get on council and they have a personal agenda, it doesn’t work,” he stressed.
“With a council, you have six councillors and one mayor, and you have to have a majority vote in order to make it happen.
“On some items, you have to have a 75 percent vote to make it happen.
“It’s a consensus-building process, and as a councillor gets more experience, you learn where and what the needs are and make some good judgements from there,” the mayor continued.
“It’s a team approach,” he reiterated. “You have to work together for the betterment of the citizens of the community.”
Applications must be turned in to the clerk’s office no later than 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 28.
That includes a cover letter stating why the applicant should be considered for the position, as well as a résumé and a statement of qualification to hold the office.
Candidates also must be willing to attend an interview with council.
Council will decide which candidates will be considered for an interview, and those people will be contacted.
Council must appoint a candidate by March 29, as per the Municipal Act.
For more information, contact clerk Glenn Treftlin at 274-5323 ext. 236 or via e-mail at gtreftlin@fort-frances.com

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