North Huron council defers Morris-Turnberry request to equally share CBO costs

·2 min read

NORTH HURON – A request from Morris-Turnberry to change the cost-sharing arrangement for building department services was deferred by North Huron council on March 1, with councillors a little baffled at the suggestion.

The ongoing dispute over cross-border service agreements was the reason for the deferral. Deputy Reeve Trevor Seip stated he feels the request should be discussed as a part of the total cross-border agreement talks.

“We’ve been a year and a half trying to make the first agreement and they have never even come to the table,” said Reeve Bernie Bailey.

“I don’t know why you would open up a second agreement when they can’t even make an agreement on the first one.”

The request from Morris-Turnberry is a change to the cost-sharing arrangement for the Chief Building Official (CBO).

North Huron CAO Dwayne Evans wrote in a report to council that in March of 2018, Morris-Turnberry and North Huron councils passed bylaws entering into a Shared Services Building Agreement.

“On Jan. 22, 2021, the CAO received correspondence from Morris-Turnberry requesting the change to the cost-sharing arrangement for the CBO's salary and benefits,” wrote Evans.

Under the current agreement, Morris-Turnberry is responsible for 60 per cent of the CBO’s salary and benefits, and North Huron is responsible for the remaining 40 per cent. Morris-Turnberry is requesting the CBO’s salary and benefits be equally shared.

The estimated cost to North Huron is approximately $10,000, wrote Evans.

North Huron council decided to defer the motion and send the request back to the Cross-Border Committee, asking them to provide a report outlining the options available, including hiring their own building inspector.

Morris-Turnberry CAO Trevor Hallam said in a letter to North Huron council that with the data they have compiled during the two years since the arrangement was made, they have discovered that “the 60-40 allocation of costs set out in Schedule A does not accurately reflect the usage of the services by each municipality.”

He added, “The division of actual hours spent by the CBO in 2020 was 51.09 per cent in North Huron and 48.91 per cent in MorrisTurnberry and in 2019 it was 47.9 per cent in North Huron and 52.1 per cent in Morris-Turnberry.”

North Huron councillors were also aware that the upcoming construction season would increase the CBO's workload; with shovels in the ground coming soon in both Wingham and Blyth, they realize that they would likely be justified in hiring their building inspector.

The matter will be revisited at the next North Huron council meeting.

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times