Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of columns by members of Amherst town council. The columns are running every two weeks in the Amherst News. Today’s column features Coun. Vince Byrne.
Reflecting on the past year as a new town councillor, it is fulfilling to see that some of the goals I had set for myself are moving forward. Given that co-operation and compromise is necessary to achieve one’s goals, there is no doubt it will be necessary to compromise on my future expectations.
Leading up to my election, I had campaigned on several issues-town finances/economic development/policing costs and expenses to name a few. It is my belief that many of these concerns resonated with the voters who were looking for change. Also, the demographic of the town is changing and due to social media, more voters are attuned to the issues that affect them and their personal finances.
As of this writing, there has been some movement on some of my campaign issues however, I believe more change is needed. There is now a limit on the number conferences each councillor can attend as well as the number of councillors that can attend each conference. And, councillors’ remuneration has been modified and reduced, not to the extent that I would like. However, we are making progress.
As a new councillor, I was not surprised by the amount of knowledge and information one must absorb to be an effective town councillor, however, the time commitment required has been a challenge.
While town council meets twice monthly (committee of the whole and regular council), there is a significant time commitment required for the councillor’s committee work and other endeavours the council members undertake – budgeting, special events, educational workshops and so on.
As a small business owner, I am inclined to decide on an item, act and move on, perhaps all within a week. Such is not the timeline of a town council. It is a slow-moving process as it is with most government organizations.
The item must appear on the agenda, be voted on, with a staff report and recommendations prepared and voted on again to accept or refuse staff recommendations. Then there is a request for proposal (RFP) or tender notice placed or tender opened and report-recommendation prepared.
This is followed by a report or recommendation back to council which places it back on the agenda for council to make a decision. Then staff commences implementation of the decision.
Voters do not appear to understand the methodology utilized to reach a decision and believe it is only a matter of a phone call to have an issue dealt with. Such is not the case as other agencies may be involved and town council and staff must co-operate and coordinate any action with the appropriate parties.
Looking forward, there are several issues which continue to impact our tax rates. These issues will be the subject of much debate, however, as a councillor, it is my opinion that I must do what is best for the town. I have discussed these issues with the voters of Amherst and must agree something must be done to lower our tax rates if we are to attract business or individuals.
The remainder of my term will be challenging; however, I was aware of this when I offered my services to the people of Amherst. I look forward to the next three years and am confident I can truly make a difference in the future of Amherst.
Vince Byrne originates from Bishop’s Falls, NL. Upon completion of high school there in 1973, he pursued a career in accounting with the Bank of Nova Scotia. In his 35 plus years with the bank he has occupied various positions in communities in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, including Manager-Operations, Foreign Exchange Trader, Manager-Credit, Commercial Banking Officer and Branch Manager. In Amherst, Vince has involved himself in many of the local community groups including the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, the Curling Club and the Golf Club. He is a Certified Personal Financial Planner and is a Fellow of the Institute of Canadian Bankers. He is the recipient of the Paul Harris Fellow from Rotary International and the Diocesan Medal of Merit from the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth. Both were awarded for his community efforts in Amherst. Vince currently operates his own financial management firm in Amherst where he resides with his son Adam.