Susan Roline delivered her inaugural address Monday evening and expressed optimism in Merritt’s future while identifying priorities for her second term as Merritt’s mayor.
During the inaugural meeting, Roline and each member of council took an oath of office in front of Judge Sheri Donegan marking the official start to their term as elected officials.
“I am deeply honoured and privileged to be here tonight and to begin my second term as your mayor,” said Roline. “All of us on council are very aware of the serious responsibility which you have bestowed upon us. We accept this responsibility willingly.”
Before outlining her top goals for the next three years, Roline took a few moments to reflect on the past council’s accomplishments, which she said were achieved through partnership with residents and city staff. These included supporting the Official Community Plan, completing projects like the Deep Aquifer Well and Spirit Square and encouraging new business start-ups.
Roline also mentioned BC Hydro’s commitment to double the power supply and the new BioMass facility that will use wood waste to produce green energy.
“These two projects alone show confidence in our city’s future,” she said.”
Moving into the future, Roline identified three main priorities for council: protecting and preserving Merritt residents’ access to nature, maintaining and improving the city’s financial health and sustainability, and capitalizing on Merritt’s brand.
With regards to financial sustainability, the mayor spoke about the need to reduce taxes while continuing to provide necessary services.
“While we hold our tax rates, we must also ensure that our civic facilities and our infrastructure do not deteriorate so that we do not leave a crumbling and decaying legacy for our children and grandchildren,” said Roline.
She also reported that council has no outstanding projects or commitments from past councils to honour so essentially council begins the new term with a clean slate.
Going forward, Roline acknowledged that individual council members won’t always agree with each other but she emphasized the need for council to work as a team.
Defining her view of teamwork, Roline said she expects councillors to arrive at meetings having done their homework and express their opinions using data, logic and persuasion, not bullying.
“If your view prevails, then congratulations,” she said. “But if your viewpoint does not prevail, then I fully expect you to support the decision of council. We all own that democratic decision.”
Roline concluded by reminding councillors of the high expectations placed on them and the need for a transparent and inclusive government.
“As with all governments, we will never have sufficient resources to fund all of the wishes of our residents so governing our community will always be a matter of difficult choices,” said Roline. “I am confident that we will make the decisions that will satisfy most of our residents most of the time.”