2015 Remuneration & Expenses

Each year, I have made it a point to post my expenses on my website.  The recent media coverage of Council’s salaries (see yrmg.com story here) reminded me that while it appears as part of my message to residents on the Town’s website, I should also link to it on this site as well.  Please feel free to click here for details of my 2015 expenses and remuneration. I look forward to any questions you may have.

And while we’re on the subject of compensation, I feel it’s important to comment a bit more on the subject. I honestly  don’t think it’s possible to make a direct comparison between how elected officials are compensated from municipality to municipality.  While there are some similarities, each Town has different expectations of their elected officials, they face different challenges and demands, and each Council is structured a little bit differently, with various committees and required meetings. In East Gwillimbury, our five-member council is the smallest allowed under The Municipal Act, and we serve at large, with 24,000 constituents and 245 square kilometers in area.  (The Town of Aurora is about 50 sq km, and Newmarket is 38 sq km — both of those Towns have larger Councils.) Some Councils only hold evening meetings, while others have daytime obligations, which precludes Councillors from working  at a proverbial “nine to five” job, as is the case in East Gwillimbury.

Further, as I commented in the recent article, it also comes down to what residents expect of their elected officials — as a Board of Directors for a multi-million dollar corporation, with responsibility for things like clean drinking water, safe roads, and emergency services, it is a position that should not be taken lightly.  At election time, if residents want to attract the best candidates to speak on their behalf, those officials should be compensated accordingly.  I think it’s also impossible to properly account for the hours a Councillor “works”.  When I stop into Vince’s for milk on a Sunday afternoon, and another customer asks me when the 2nd Concession will be finished, technically I’m working, even if my whiny four year old is ramming that customer’s shins with those cute kiddie carts.  I wouldn’t dream of billing by the hour, nor do I even really count the hours I put in.  I love the job, and accept the established salary.  Isn’t that we all strive for?  To have a job we love so much it doesn’t feel like work??

 

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An Exciting New Challenge

business cardI am pleased to announce that I have passed the exams required to obtain my real estate license. I’m now a proud Sales Representative with Century 21 Heritage Group Ltd.!

Real estate has always been an interest of mine, and I think that my insight into our community and its residents are a natural fit for this line of work.  The skill sets I have honed as a Town Councillor are a natural fit with my business background in sales, marketing and customer service.

For the past 6 years, as Councillor, I have worked to build a personal brand based on trust, accountability, and responsiveness.  I plan to put these qualities to work for my real estate clients, and continue to be involved and engaged in this community.

I also want to assure my constituents that my commitment to serving on our Town Council remains as strong as ever.  Many will recall that even the birth of my daughter did not keep me from attending to Town business.  (Conveniently, she arrived between Council meetings – what a considerate little girl!).  Further, the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act requires that I declare a conflict whenever I have a financial interest in a matter before Council.  So if by chance, a client came to Council with an application, I would simply refrain from voting or participating in the discussion.  This is a common practice with members of Council across the province.

In the coming weeks, I will be assembling the tools and information I need to serve my clients’ real estate needs – a website, sales materials, even more information about the local market  — the list is long, and I can’t wait to get started!  I have a unique perspective, and a passion for our town.  I am excited to continue to serve — in more ways than ever before.

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2014 Remuneration & Expenses

As I have every year since I was elected, I have posted the details of my Remuneration and Expenses on this site. So here they are: Expenses 2014 Councillor Roy DiClemente – detail

I also make them a part of my “Message to Residents” on the Town’s website, so that they are easier to find.  If you are comparing the Town’s Statement of Remuneration that gets filed with the Province, you will note that my expenses here include the cost of my Blackberry, but that the Town considers it to be a corporate expense.  I feel it’s important that residents know how much it costs them to have me working on their behalf.

As always, I welcome any comments or questions you may have.

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Inauguration Speech, December 1, 2014

Below is the text of the speech I gave at our Inaugural Council meeting, which was held December 1st, 2014.

There was an incredible amount of work that led to me being before you today.  Countless hours were spent on my behalf, and I want to thank all of my volunteers and steadfast supporters for being the foundation on which I built the success I achieved.  I couldn’t have done it without you.

There are also some other people I would like to speak about this evening.

As a young girl, I was informed by my parents, Donna and Andy, that due to a terrible accident of birth, I could not pursue a dream I had.  I was never going to be a princess.  However, they taught me that with enough hard work, (aside from that princess thing), I could BE anything, and DO anything I put my mind to.  I want to publicly acknowledge their hard work in raising me (looking back, I now understand how hard it was!), and thank them for the gifts they gave me.

I want to thank my in-laws Toni and Tony Diclemente for raising a son who is the most supportive, encouraging and loving husband a woman could ever ask for.

Which of course turns my attention to my husband Michael.  He has been my steadfast life partner for over 17 years, and together, we are the parents of three awesome kids, Evan, Jason, and Maya.  When I consider the many blessings I have been given, Michael and our children are naturally at the top of that list.  Thank you for being my inspiration, the reason I do what I do. And for understanding that bedtime stories sometimes take a back seat to another one of Mummy’s meetings. Above all, thank you for your support as I try to make a difference in our community. 

As for making a difference, I would like to congratulate my fellow members of Council this evening, and say that I look forward to working collaboratively with you to find common ground and consensus as we set the direction our community will take into the future.  I am reminded of a portion of Theodore Roosevelt’s 1905 inaugural address.  He said:  “Much has been given us, and much will rightfully be expected from us. We have duties to others and duties to ourselves; and we can shirk neither.”

The residents of East Gwillimbury have entrusted us to speak and act on their behalf for the next 4 years.  I am incredibly proud of the results our Town has achieved over the past few years, and I look forward to leveraging our existing partnerships and talented volunteers, and of course, forging new relationships to benefit our community, create community infrastructure and protect what makes East Gwillimbury special.

The Town’s staff are also an important resource to this Council.  I hope we continue to foster a corporate culture of innovation and creativity with our staff.  If we continue to ask for their best, I am confident they will continue to surprise us with their ingenuity and passion in serving the residents of East Gwillimbury.

As we embark on the adventure of the next 4 years, I want to reiterate my pledge to the residents of East Gwillimbury: I will strive to represent you with energy, creativity, professionalism and integrity.  I look forward to sharing this journey with you.

 Thank you.

 A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent. —Douglas MacArthur

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The Past 4 Years: Was it What I Expected?

A resident, upon learning that I had filed my nomination papers for re-election this fall, asked me an excellent question: “How have the past four years been?  Was it what you expected?”

My first response reflected my approach to any new challenge: “I didn’t know what to expect, so I went in with an open mind.”

That didn’t satisfy her; she pressed me for more details.  So I told her this:

When I was sworn in as a Councillor in 2010, I had a ton of ideas and ideals.  I still do.  I didn’t know what the future held for me personally – I had no way of predicting that my father would suddenly pass away.  I also had no way of knowing that our family would be completed as we were blessed with a little girl, born mid-way through my term of office.

Despite the challenges I have faced in my personal life, I have remained committed to the role of Councillor.  I am proud that I have the best attendance record of this term of Council.  I love making a difference in people’s lives.  I thrive when I am helping to solve problems, and take pride in creating opportunities to build a flourishing community.  I love that I have a hand in shaping the way our Town will look for generations to come.  Do I love “politics”?  Not really, but every workplace has them. In my workplace, it’s just more obvious.  My goal has always been to respect differences of opinion, and to work to find consensus.  This approach has led me to chair some long discussions in the Council Chambers, but that is the beauty of the democratic process, arriving at a decision everyone can support.

In the past four years, we HAVE made a difference.  We have brought a new level of professionalism and communication to our Town, and with it, doors have opened, partnerships have formed, plans have been made and the foundations of something great have been laid.

So, no, it wasn’t what I expected.  But I love the job, and have reapplied for it. I want to keep building on the work we started.    I just need to speak to those 25,000 E.G. residents I work for about renewing my contract…

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Recent Accomplishments as Chair of Council Committees

In November 2012, I assumed the role of Chair of Community Programs and Infrastructure (CPI), the Town’s largest department, responsible for half of the Town’s budget and staff. Staff in these areas deal with sewers, roads, garbage, parks, facilities, trails, recreation programs and so much more.

The past 18 months have brought a tremendous amount of change as we made plans to address the imminent growth in the municipality. To prepare us, the CPI department was split into 2 areas: Community Infrastructure & Environmental Services (CIES), and Community Parks, Recreation & Culture (CPRC).

In addition to these changes, staff also dealt with a record-breaking winter of inclement weather, contracted waste collection issues and the unimaginable challenge of the Mount Albert fire station being destroyed by fire. An interim station was operational within days of the fire, thanks to the immense efforts of the staff team and our neighbouring municipal partners.

Furthermore, Council endorsed some significant accomplishments during the past 18 months that I have been Chair. Here are some highlights. I have included links if you would like more information:

  1. Council adopted a new Fill & Site Alteration Bylaw & Operational Guidelines. Lauded by environmental groups as the best in the province, this will protect our soil & water and sets clear guidelines for commercial fill operators in our municipality.
  2. New facilities: Delivered on time & on budget, the Harvest Hills Activity Centre at Phoebe Gilman PS –over 6,000 sq ft of exclusive Town space, supplemented by a shared use agreement for 5,280 sq ft including washrooms, gymnasium and program space. We also began work on a potential partnership with the YMCA for a multi-use recreation centre (with pool!) in Queensville.
  3. LSRCA land acquisition: In partnership with the Town, the Conservation Authority purchased 32 acres of land in the Rogers Reservoir  Conservation Area. This will provide for a key trail connection, allowing access from  2nd Concession all the way to Yonge St. in Holland Landing.
  4. Speeding & Traffic Safety:  The town purchased radar signs and installed them around Town. The data collected gives us the evidence to request stronger enforcement from York Regional Police.  The results were also made public on a quarterly basis.
  5. Erosion & Sedimentation Control Standards. We have raised the bar for developers, requiring them to take greater precautions against erosion when they disturb the ground in preparation for building.
  6. Sustainable Development Incentive Program adopted by Council: this “Thinking Green” initiative is a “Made in EG” solution to encourage sustainable development, and promote water & energy conservation, wastewater reduction, improve indoor air quality, and promote renewable energy and consumer education.  This program applies not only to residential buildings, but also to commercial, industrial and institutional buildings.
  7. Community Safety: We created a new policy for responding to your complaints about speeding within Town. We receive a number of requests every year to change speed limits on Town roads.  This new policy ensures that our response is consistent and responsible.
  8. Stormwater Master Plan. The Town worked with the Conservation Authority to create a plan to prevent flooding, reduce erosion issues, and improve water quality.
  9. Rainwater Innovation: In partnership with the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, East Gwillimbury’s Civic Centre was chosen as the site for residential and commercial demonstration projects to show how rainwater can be used as a resource instead of a waste product.
  10. Designed & built Don Rose Park in Mount Albert.
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Remuneration & Expenses for 2013

As I have every year since I was elected, I am sharing the details of my remuneration and expenses in an effort to demonstrate my commitment to transparency and accountability. You can find the details of my 2013 expenses here. It also forms part of my message to residents on the Town’s website. You can also find a high-level summary of expenses paid to all members of Council, pursuant to Section 284 of the Municipal Act on the Town’s website, here.

I welcome any comments or questions you may have.

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On the need for an Electoral Review

During the 2010 election, one of the issues that distinguished me from other candidates was my position on the need for East Gwillimbury to conduct an electoral review. I have not wavered from that position, and indeed, over the past 3 years, I have consistently advocated for it.

As you may have read in the local media, there was recent discussion about a need for Council to revisit its composition. A motion was put forward that would have added 2 Councillors during the 2014 election. I did not support this resolution because I felt it was proposing a solution to a problem we had yet to identify or study.

It is my opinion that before we make any changes to Council’s composition, we need to have an open and frank discussion with members of the public and other stakeholders about what a new Council should look like. We need to engage residents about their expectations and needs, and any changes we make need to be mindful, measured and communicated well in advance.

Just as we make plans to address growth in our municipality, such as Master Plans in areas like Recreation, Emergency Services, Water/Wastewater and Libraries, so too should we examine our system of governance. Whether it’s the addition of members of Council, a ward system, an elected Deputy Mayor, or something entirely different, we need to be transparent about our options, the discussion, and the decision.

Another consideration in this issue is timing. While we know that growth is inevitable and imminent, the waves of new residents have yet to arrive. We are told that occupancy of new homes will begin in 2015, partway through the next term of Council. By 2018, the transformation of our Town will be well underway, and it would make sense to address any need for change at that time.

On October 7th, I put forward the following resolution:

“WHEREAS The Town of East Gwillimbury is poised to experience significant change and growth in virtually every aspect of the community, and has therefore undertaken significant planning exercises to prepare;

AND WHEREAS the Council of the Town of East Gwillimbury is the smallest allowable under the Municipal Act, and has not reviewed its structures since 1971 when the Regional Municipality of York Region and the Town of East Gwillimbury were created;

AND WHEREAS a February 2011 decision of the Ontario Municipal Board confirmed the need for the Town to undertake a comprehensive electoral review, noting, “It is clear that the Town is moving in a direction and to a state of development and maturation that will necessitate a sincere review and forthright assessment of its electoral system”;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT the Council of the Town of East Gwillimbury wishes to undertake a comprehensive review of its electoral system including number of councillors, system of representation and any other pertinent factors, with the intention of implementing any proposed changes for the 2018 election; and

THAT the review be structured to incorporate innovative public consultation as well as with other stakeholders such as Council members and town staff in the hopes that such a review will renew and improve voter engagement for present and future residents; and

THAT staff be directed to initiate the first phases of this project as part of the 2014 budget and work plan.”

My Council colleagues did not share my position, and the motion was not seconded, so no vote took place. I’m disappointed, because I think that we are doing ourselves and our community a disservice. Our present electoral system was established over 40 years ago, and we should be asking ourselves if it continues to deliver the level of service our residents deserve and have come to expect.

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2012 Remuneration & Expenses

One of the things I committed to the residents of East Gwillimbury was that I would always strive for transparency and accountability. I am therefore sharing the details of my 2012 Salary and Expenses here. It also appears as part of my message to residents on the Town’s website.

Here are some further details on the key spending categories. I hope they are helpful in reflecting some of the work I do as your representative on Council:

Professional Development
The main expenditures in 2012 were for participation in a Business & Bandwidth conference on high-speed internet in Northern York Region, an Ontario Nature Workshop on Bioregional Planning for Aggregates, and a subscription to Municipal World magazine.

Meeting Expenses
These are travel expenses & other incidental costs incurred as I carry out my duties as Councillor. The largest item here was $75.62 relating to my attendance at an Ontario Power Authority/Association of Muncipalities of Ontario conference to speak about our Thinking Green Development Standards, and to accept a Conservation award on behalf of the Town of East Gwillimbury.

Public Engagement
I participated in several events in 2012, including a Firefighter Retirement dinner, The Family Place Ladies Night, A&B Run for Southlake, LSRCA Foundation Conservation Gala, Dream Halloween in support of 6 York charities, the Chamber of Commerce Awards Gala, Magna Hoedown, and various community dinners and potlucks.

Finally, while it was decided that Blackberries are to be considered a “Corporate Expense”, personally, I think it’s important to disclose that my Blackberry cost $696.21 in 2012.

I welcome any comments or questions you may have.

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Two-Year Review – Accomplishments as Chair, Corporate & Financial Services

While Council meets as a five-person body to make decisions about the Town’s direction, much of the discussion on the issues takes place at the Committee level, where each Councillor chairs a different area of the Town’s operation.

I am halfway through my four-year term as Councillor, and I want to share some of the accomplishments the Town has made over the past two years while I was Chair of Corporate and Financial Services.  I’ve inserted links where available if you would like more information.

  1. Council adopted a Social Media Strategy that lays out how the Town will begin to engage in sites like Facebook & Twitter. It has been recognized as a best practice by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario on the Ontario Municipal Knowledge Network .
  2. The Town’s website has been refreshed & re-launched to better reflect how the public accesses information and resources.
  3. Our page in the Era has been revamped (twice!) in order to give residents more information about Council activities and community happenings.
  4. An e-newsletter was launched that delivers Town Page information directly to residents’ in-boxes. (You can sign up by clicking HERE).
  5. Streamlined budget process: we delivered 3 back-to-back budgets aligned at or below inflation.  Being among the first in York Region to adopt our annual budgets also meant early tenders, resulting in hundreds of thousands dollars saved for our taxpayers.
  6. Council adopted a Town Sign Strategy and Design Concepts that allowed for new electronic signage at key town facilities, as well as laid out plans for gateway, community and other signage to be installed in the next few years.
  7. Enhanced Council accountability – Council adopted a new Fundraising Policy involving members of Council.
  8. Staff researched and reported on a cost-effective way to record & archive Council & Committee meetings, quoting $5000 in equipment & $3000 in on-line archiving compared to the high six-figures quoted in other municipalities. You can read the report HERE.
  9. Operating Efficiencies such as new photocopiers with fax-in ability which eliminated several unnecessary phone lines; no fee Corporate Visa cards, with bonus cash back based on purchasing totals across the entire organization; and a new Investment Policy that will see our investment income grow.
  10. Recruited new Deputy Treasurer and HR Manager. We traded expensive outside consultants’ bills for salaries that mean expertise remains with the Town, and builds our bench strength.

I recently assumed the role of Chair, Community Programs and Infrastructure, our largest Town Department.  I am looking forward to continuing to serve our community in this capacity, and I anticipate sharing more success stories with you.

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