Assessment of Mayor Lussier: “I brought the City to another level”

Assessment of Mayor Lussier:

Mayor Steve Lussier on Wednesday took stock of the last year at city council.

Share November 5, 2020 3:00 am Updated at 6:55 am Share Report of Mayor Lussier: “I brought the City to another level”Assessment of Mayor Lussier:

Jonathan Custeau La Tribune It has been three years since Steve Lussier took the reins of the City of Sherbrooke by defeating outgoing mayor Bernard Sévigny. If he is proud of his record, he will have had to face several pitfalls over the past year. In addition to the pandemic, he again faced strained relations around the board table and grim financial records. He nevertheless believes that he has brought the City to another level. He took part in the game of the big interview with La Tribune to take stock of the actions he took.

For the third year of his mandate, Steve Lussier refuses to give himself a mark, although he had given himself seven out of ten at mid-term. “I don't like to write myself down. People will rate what I did after the last year. I am proud that there were no high cost overruns on budget this year. We are in such a great momentum. I obviously wish there was no pandemic, but people have asked us to change the city and that is what we are doing. I don't see what I would do differently. “

Whoever confirms that he will seek a second term as an independent (to be read on Saturday) admits that the COVID-19 pandemic has upset plans in recent months.

“It hasn't been an ordinary year. We had to do a lot of interventions because of the pandemic. You have to understand that we had to review all our strategies, to check whether we should keep all the projects. But we had to keep projects to prepare for the post-pandemic. I wanted to make sure that we would maintain economic vitality. », Summarizes Mr. Lussier about the pandemic which has forced all political spheres to review their priorities.

“It took agility and understanding to reposition yourself. We put a COVID committee in place quickly to keep citizens safe. We had to put 531 employees in telework. “

Sherbrooke has obtained government assistance of $ 16 million which could extend until 2022 in addition to $ 1.9 million for merchants. “It was timely. We must not forget that we have also postponed tax payments to give citizens some air. “

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The town hall has been closed to citizens since the start of the pandemic. “It's to preserve the executives and ensure the smooth running of the City. You should be careful. Neither the mayor nor his entourage have also had to go into administrative segregation because of the pandemic.

The services continued to be offered to citizens despite everything, says the mayor. “I wanted the libraries to be reopened quickly. We have set up webcasting facilities for our consultations and we need to make construction appointments. I haven't heard any employee complain about our way of doing things. The fact remains that elected officials have tried to find ways to save money. The idea of closing ice rinks has sparked an uproar that forces elected officials to find a way to open them as much as possible.

Recently, Steve Lussier estimated that the loss of revenue related to COVID could amount to $ 4 million in the City of Sherbrooke.

On the eve of the unveiling of the 2021 budget, scheduled for December 14, the mayor insists that he still wants to respect citizens' ability to pay. “This year we have reviewed everything we can. We have restructured our priorities. The budget will be low. We had unexpected income in transfer rights. And if we want to prosper and create good jobs, we cannot stop our projects. “

Among the successes of the first three years of his mandate, Steve Lussier cites the transformation of the city center, in particular the Well Sud project, on which he had decreed a moratorium before relaunching it practically identically. “We had more social acceptability because we included people. In the city center, we will also give back the banks to the citizens. “

Assessment of Mayor Lussier:

The Director of the Finance Department of the City of Sherbrooke, Nathalie Lapierre, reports that the debt ratio of the City of Sherbrooke is 104%. Photo La Tribune, Stéphanie Vallières


From a financial point of view, the Auditor General recalled that the City's accumulated surplus of $ 14.2 million is far too low. She also called for greater rigor in the municipal apparatus. The professor of management at the University of Sherbrooke Mario Lavallée noted for his part that the City borrows too much and does not plan enough long-term spending. The City of Sherbrooke's asset maintenance deficit is estimated at $ 97 million. The debt ratio is 104%. The maximum not to be exceeded is set at 110%.

“Getting the finances back on track is important. There is a big problem here. I am not pointing employees. These are accumulations of bad practices. We had to change our behavior and we proposed a new management framework, including a new debt policy. We are interested in procurement, as suggested by the Auditor General. Our action plan will go very far. You will see big changes, ”says Lussier, without giving an example of specific actions or objectives. “

Assessment of Mayor Lussier:

Évelyne Beaudin Photo Archives La Tribune, Maxime Picard

Tight relationships

The mayor may well have promised greater harmony to the council, each year brings its striking skirmishes. Even the intimidation of elected officials has been denounced in the past year, with two complaints for insults filed in municipal court. Councilor Vincent Boutin, victim of exhaustion, named the tense climate, in which he himself admits to having participated, among the factors that led to his temporary withdrawal from work. Steve Lussier has been criticized for having applauded Evelyne Beaudin's resignation from the economic development committee. Calling the decision “good news”, he said he would buy himself a 6/49 ticket to celebrate.

“I apologized to all my colleagues on the board,” said Lussier on this subject. “I would have thought there would be more harmony, but there is partisanship. The fact remains that in the last few weeks, I do not know if it is the pandemic that is doing this, we have been sticking together. The harmony may not be total, but we work well together. We talked to each other and it was worth it. Everyone can express themselves freely. “

In the same sense, covertly or directly, several elected officials recently criticized the mayor for his lack of leadership. “For someone who lacks leadership, I took the City to another level. Citizens have always been at the heart of my priorities. I am true to my convictions. I am honest and honest. “

Assessment of Mayor Lussier:

Councilor Vincent Boutin, among other things, targeted the climate at city council to explain the exhaustion he suffered. Photo Archives La Tribune, Frédéric Côté


Finally, the City of Sherbrooke signed the Declaration of Climate Emergency. But what actions will the City take for the planet? Already, the debate on a work by Ultra Nan on climate change and supposed to act as a reminder to city council has caused much ink to flow. After procrastination, elected officials agreed to have it displayed in the council chamber at city hall.

“We must have a system for evaluating the ecological impact of our projects. We are in the process of incorporating it into all of our decision summaries. We are also trying to get as many green roofs as possible. I signed the agreement for the expansion of Mont-Bellevue Park. We are also working on the Nature Plan to protect wetlands, we have brought back the Office of the Environment and we are working on the protection of riparian strips. “

Steve Lussier says he is interested in the circular economy, in reducing the number of service stations in Sherbrooke, in the extensive collection of compost and in the electrification of transport.

“I am also very sensitive to deforestation. There are cases that I could not take care of because they were the responsibility of my predecessors, but I am now making a concern. “

Assessment of Mayor Lussier:

The elected officials received a work by artist Ultra Nan to remind them of the importance of considering the environment in their decisions. Photo Archives La Tribune, Frédéric Côté


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