Northeast council needs money for ‘irresponsible hypocrisy’

To The Expositor:

Taxes supposedly went down since this council began. Water and sewer rates have since gone up. User fees are going up. Creative thinking is what this council calls it. Staff have worked diligently to keep finding money to cover the potential deficit this council has created. What council doesn’t say is what they need money for their irresponsible hypocrisy.

In reading the honourarium report of 2010, some numbers stand out. Mileage for a couple of councillors adds up to thousands of dollars. Not only were they paid to go to meetings, they were paid to get there and back. In reading the numbers for the first three months of this council, these councillors will keep those numbers rising throughout their current term. Not only that, but they’ve been joined by another councillor who needs to be paid to attend meetings and for his fuel costs. (There is a bylaw to permit this.)

However, these same councillors are crying for everyone else to cut costs and that taxes don’t need to be increased.

Council was adamant that there should be no tax increases. They have directed staff to reduce costs wherever possible. They have destroyed the work of the previous council in their cowardice towards the people they supposedly represent. Intelligent people know all expenses have risen. Hydro bills are escalating to cover the costs of inefficient green energy; the wind towers we pay for through our taxes and our hydro bills; there are one million dollar depreciation costs starting next year to start saving for; no one has started to do anything yet. Lack of funding and even funding cuts at this time are not helping to solve our problems. For this council to not explain these problems to the taxpayers shows either lack of thought or lack of courage.

Provincial and federal governments have repeatedly stated that municipalities need to start saving money. This council continues to live in a state of denial and hopes these problems go away. That is bad enough, but for council to actually reward themselves substantially while their constituents and town staff work to reduce their bills speaks to hypocrisy and to greed.

Passing the increased levy for reassessments doesn’t go up per municipality. The costs are just redistributed to different land areas. Council didn’t raise taxes, they just found other ways to recover that money. New growth, which the previous council created through their hard work, accounted for extra money. User fees have gone up. New ways of financing the same old money.

As fast as money is found, this council will try to spend it. Their pay cheques can attest to that. These people volunteered to make a difference in their community in the election. There are no volunteers that reward themselves as well as this council does. Volunteers contribute in great ways to this community and every one of them are important and special. They do not help themselves to special perks.

Everyone makes a choice on where they live and base their expenses accordingly. Councillors who live further away from their meetings should have known how much it would cost to attend meetings and budgeted accordingly. Instead, staff and taxpayers are forced to do council’s budgeting through tax dollars. It is similar to Little Current paying more so that they subsidise another water plant just a little more. With huge financial burdens facing the water and sewer bills in Little Current now and in the future, council has decreed that there must be more money to pass off to a smaller water plant and did so. There was no thought to the upcoming lagoon project paid for throughout the water and sewer rates of Ward 2. Yet this lagoon is used by the residents of Wards 3 and 4 as well: should Little Current ask for a subsidization in these costs to offset the project? So much for the conspiracy theory that Ward 4 subsidises Ward 2.

In actuality, Ward 4 councillors should be proud of themselves. They’ve gotten most of their costs covered while others foot the bill, like the drainage costs of a few in ward 4 will be perpetually picked up by the whole of the municipality.

A couple of months ago, I was a judge of a public speaking contest between the various Island public schools. One young man spoke on the topic of nothing. He stated that nothing could sound like something depending on how it was stated or presented. This council has spoken continuously on how they are responsible, how they are cutting costs, on how they’ve created a zero percent budget. Yet they have increased fees and all other costs, they are continually looking at how to spend money and they reward themselves well for their speeches. When all is said and done, that young man was right: it’s all about nothing in the end.

Melissa Peters
A NEMI Resident