Who is minding the store?


To Mayor and Council April 16, 2012

Subject: Who is minding the store?

A number of questions to you that I have already asked are related to the budget of 2012.

The main reason for our concern did not start with this council. The matter of tardiness in getting the TSBP budget tabled and approved in good time has certainly happened with previous councils. Part of the reason for the inefficiency was politics but not all of the reason.

Both council and staff need to be better “watch dogs” of how our money is used. We worked to get a new council so we do expect better results. We do not think you, as Mayor, and some of your councillors have taken a close look at the TSBP cheque register. We already know that unnecessary $$$$’s have now been spent for lawyers because of a lack of leadership – most of which has been because of the politics of favouritism.

We now learn that two cheques have been issued for a total of almost $25,000.00 to cover the mistakes of by-laws written in 1995, and compounded in 2011 by three things. A) a further by-law passed by this council in 2011 and B) a misleading statement by the CAO concerning a $1.00 a year lease charge for commercial properties and C) a tax reimbursement to a deceased person for his parking lot.

If this is an example of the actions of what Councillor Turner keeps calling “a competent and reliable staff” then who is minding the store? Why is Councillor Turner always defending staff to the detriment of the taxpayer? Defending all except the Manager of Public Works whose qualifications rate much higher than perhaps he is able to understand. A Department Manager who has had the guts to stand up to our former CAO who has tried to get Dept. Managers to alter their reports in order to suit her personal agenda?

We can be thankful, in my opinion, that this former CAO is no longer in a position to waste taxpayer’s money or intimidate a staff that is simply trying to do a job for the constituents. The question is – where do we go from here?

Question….who has signed or approved a cheque for 19 thousand plus dollars to a deceased Mr. Nixon

Do we re-instate the MPW to get a reality check? Or do we fumble along with two or three more PW Managers trying to find another one that will face reality.

Do we take a second look at why the Municipal Act has been ignored or violated with respect to the leniency afforded to the Wiarton Marina??

In conclusion for those of you who may not be totally familiar with the Municipal Act, please take a look at Section 106 (1) and (2) which prohibits Municipalities from directly or indirectly assisting any Manufacturing Business or other Industrial or Commercial Enterprise through the granting of bonuses. Prohibited actions include (among other things)…..”Giving a total or partial exemption from ANY levy, charge or fee.”

We will continue holding your “feet to the fire” and hope that you do the same to each other until we get the Town Budget reduced……regardless of what numbers are approved or revised on April 17/2012.

Respectfully,
Gordon M. MacDonald
Impatient TaxPayer

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Craig’s Commentary Volume 2 Number 22


RE: April 17, 2012 Council Agenda

The pdf version of the full agenda package is available on the town website at:

https://southbrucepeninsula.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentList.aspx?ID=48843

An Html version is at:

https://southbrucepeninsula.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentList.aspx?ID=48841

Following are some comments on a few select agendas items.

8.1 TURNER02-2012 BASWRA and Waste Diversion

Report Turner 02- 2012 appears to be discussing whether to increase the number of different materials picked up for recycling, and whether to increase the diversion rate. What is presented is the implication that increasing capture rate and number of materials could increase costs per household from our current $25 per household per year to the Owen Sound level of $200 per household per year.

What is needed is some proper analysis of different alternatives, that analysis to include cost savings resulting from less material going to landfill.

8.15 CLK40-2012 Head, Freedom of Information

The proposal is to designate the Clerk (the office, not the person in it) as the TSBP Freedom of Information official, and the Deputy Clerk as alternate.

The Municipal Freedom of Information Act does not allow for this.

The Act allows council to designate a person (e.g. Angie Cathrae) as the freedom of information official, but does not allow designation of an office (e.g. clerk).

Similarly, the Act allows the Freedom of information official to delegate part or all duties to another person (e.g. Wyonch), but not to an office (e.g. deputy clerk).

This is a simple matter of changing a few words in the proposed bylaw to make it compliant with the Act.

8.16 CLK41-2012 Appointment By-law

This bylaw proposes removing Councillor Matt Standen from the BIA Board of Management, and replacing him with Councillor Thomas.

This by-law should be dropped for two reasons.

First it is unacceptable bullying of councillor Standen by the Wiarton Chamber of commerce and by any councillor that supported the Chamber’s request to remove councillor Standen.

Second, it would be unwise to proceed given that an application has been made or will be made to a judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to sanction several members of the board for violating sections 5 (1) (a), (b), and (c) of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act regarding the matter of moving, debating, influencing and voting the BIA motion to request removal of councillor Standen from the BIA board.

8.20 CLK45-2012 Bruce County Housing, Letter of Commitment

The proposal is to use TSBP residents’ scarce and hard-earned taxes to support the Bruce County Housing initiative. The initiative is noble, but the people must have a choice of whether to support the program.

9.1 By-Law 48-2012 A By-Law to Implement a Sewage System Re-inspection Program and item10.1 By-Law 48-2012 A By-Law to Implement a Sewage System Re-inspection Program (Third Reading)

As indicated in previous commentaries, the Ministry has published a guideline for conducting septic system inspection. The TSBP proposal, which I have called “Wayne’s Rule”, is for an inspection protocol that goes way beyond the ministry guideline, and in my view would be costly, invasive, unnecessary, and unacceptable.

The CBO has steadfastly refused to acknowledge the existence of the Ministry septic system inspection guideline.

I believe the refusal to even look at the Ministry guideline, and the proposal for the costly, unnecessary Wayne’s rule, has roots in the 70 million dollar Sauble Sewers proposal.

Wayne’s Rule is developed so that if an inspector finds anything that he or she decides is a flaw in the system, an order can be made to have the system dug up and replaced. The system could be doing a perfectly good job and could be easily meeting the ministry guideline, but if the CBO is willing to say he is not perfectly happy with the system, under the proposed by-law he could order anything up to a full system replacement costing tens of thousands of dollars. With the very subjective Wayne’s Rule, hundreds of perfectly good septic systems could be deemed “flawed” and be ordered replaced.

So maybe the motivation is to make the costs of having a Sauble septic system so high that people will get concerned about the costs of septic systems and switch to supporting the 70 million dollar plus sewers system for sauble.

People should not fall for this trick. The ministry inspections guideline is perfectly adequate for finding and fixing the septic systems that are truly problematic. And it is fair because it will only result in orders for repairs or replacement where necessary.

Furthermore, the proposed by-law is illegal in that it gives trespass powers that are contrary to the section 8 charter right “to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure”.

Also the two bases for trespass without warrant to conduct inspections are absurd misreadings of the law.

The two bases provided are:

“WHEREAS the regulatory power to trespass on private property is given under Section
15.9 (1) “Inspection of an Unsafe Building” in the Ontario Building Code Act (OBCA);

AND WHEREAS Section 15.10.1 of the Building Code Act allows an inspector to enter
upon land and into buildings at any reasonable time without a warrant for the purpose of
conducting a maintenance inspection;”

The first does allow for trespass without a warrant, but only to determine whether or not a sewage system is not maintained or operated in accordance with this Act and the building code. This means, in my view, that it’s OK to trespass to do an evaluation pursuant to the ministry guideline, but not to Wayne’s rule.

The second does allow for trespass without a warrant to do a maintenance inspection, but it is only for mandatory maintenance inspection programs as defined by the Building Code Act. So the allowance applies for only about 150 properties in all of TSBP.

Council should defeat the by-law and replace it with a program that uses the ministry guideline.

10.3 By-Law 53-2012 Being a By-Law to Authorize the Mayor and Clerk to Execute a Lease Agreement with M & M Rinehart Holdings Inc. (41-02-580-002-05400)

The town made a lease agreement in 1995 for the land that form the back of 559 Berford Street, and supposedly the land is for municipal parking.

A new lease has been drafted for a potential new owner of the property. The new lease is not the same as the old, but has new benefits to the lessor (the owner of the property).

Council should not be in a hurry to sign this lease. The old lease was very costly to taxpayers, and may not have been in the public interest. The proposed lease is less is less in the public interest than the old. The town as the lessee may have some liability for the lands if the soil is or becomes contaminated.

Council should have a good look at the public costs and the public benefits before entering this lease.

Other comments are on the Blog at:

https://bruceonthebruce.wordpress.com/2012/04/

10.4 By-Law 54-2012 A By-Law to set and Levy the Rates of Taxation for Town, County and School Purposes for the Year 2012

This by-law would accept the proposed budget and all of its components. Two components, namely the $50,000 grants to the chambers are in contravention of section 106 of the Municipal Act. This makes the by-law illegal.

Council should not pass an illegal by-law.