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Personnel, cable TV discussed in Toronto

TORONTO — Toronto Council Monday discussed updating the city’s personnel policies and heard from the manager of the local cable television provider.

Plans were made for the city’s planning commission to review its table of organization, which outlines the number of staff in each department, their duties and hours.

Council President Frank McEwen said another committee may be formed to address personnel issues specifically, but the planning commission will be charged with the task for now.

Council members hope to resolve various issues, including positions left vacant in the months since the pandemic began and city officials have strived to spend cautiously in anticipation of less revenue.

Among the vacancies is that of the city’s services director, which hasn’t been filled since the retirement of Alex Porreca last year. Water Superintendent Tim Miller, who has served also as assistant services director, noted the situation has put him in the awkward position of being his own boss. Rod Henry, the city’s recreation director, also has noted the planned year-long operation of the city’s new recreation center will require more staff hours.

In other business, Bob Loveridge, general manager of Jefferson County Cable, asked to speak to council about the AT&T Sportsnet channel being dropped from the company’s offerings.

Loveridge said while his office has received few phone calls, he’s aware of complaints being voiced on social media and wished to address them.

He said dropping the channel, popular for airing Pittsburgh Penguins and Pirates games, wasn’t easy but it became too expensive for Jefferson County Cable to carry.

Loveridge said coupled with increased costs to include the four major networks, keeping the sports network would have meant a $20 increase for all expanded basic cable customers.

He said the cable company has been unable to negotiate for the network to be included in a separate tier of sports channels.

“We’re trying not to get over the $100 mark for a house to have cable,” Loveridge said.

On a more positive note, Loveridge announced the cable company will be increasing the tiered rates of speed for its Internet customers at no cost to them. He said he hopes for the upgrades to be effective in March.

Council also:

¯ Approved the final reading for 3 percent raises for a dispatcher-secretary and two dispatchers in the police department as well as a court clerk appointed by the mayor and the second reading for a 3 percent raise for the assistant wastewater treatment system. With the latter raise pending a third reading, all are slated to be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2020, reflecting 3 percent raises approved earlier for the city’s other police personnel and wastewater superintendent.

¯ Agreed to provide $2,400 to the Historical Society of Toronto for rent and utilities for the museum it operates at 210 Main St.

In a letter to council, Carolyn Walker, the group’s president, said the Main Street Museum has been closed because of the pandemic and until it re-opens, there’s talk of reviving the outdoor Yellow Creek tours the group once held.

She added the museum’s front windows have featured displays of photos and other memorabilia of the city’s past, from pictures of past Christmas parades and productions of “A Christmas Carol” held in recent years to photos of the city’s Vietnam War veterans.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)

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