What’s up at Monday’s Meeting of the COW?

Ron Bolin: Dec. 7, 2012

This is the last COW meeting scheduled to be held in the Shaw Auditorium instead of a small board room in the New Annex and the last which is scheduled to be made available to the public on video.  At his meeting comes the opening salvo of the 2013 budget in a presentation of the 2013 to 2017 financial plan by our Director of Finance.  No hint of what this presentation will reveal is contained in the agenda, but it should be of considerable interest given that it should cover the $11+ million dollar shortfall which has been associated with the Asset Management Study and the reported $7 million dollars which has been estimated for the removal of the middle and lower dams at Colliery Dam Park.  $18 million amounts to an about 22.5% increase in property taxation if they were to be collected in a single year.  Of course this will not happen and we will kick even more debt down the road, along with the $65 million for our new water filtration system, about the same amount for the new water supply system, $16 million for the new annex, etc., with further borrowing and with reductions in our savings as well as tax increases.   In for a penny, in for a pound as they say.

The agenda for the Cow meeting of Monday, Dec. 7, can be found at:

http://www.nanaimo.ca/UploadedFilesPath/Site_Structure/Corporate_Services/Corporate_Administration/2012_Committee_Agendas/COW121210A.pdf

Other highlights of the agenda include the approval of:

  • Award of a sole source contract for the maintenance of the City’s Business Management Software for $269,500.25.  Some $78,000 of this is for maintenance of a Budget Planning Module that was added in 2012.  We will see how this addition has helped the budget process;
  • Notice that the impact of all 2010, 2011 & 2012 assessment adjustment received in 2012 is to decrease gross taxation by $256,402.47, which includes a decrease in the municipal portion of $154,801.06. (A decrease in gross taxation does not indicate a reduction in costs, i.e. this money must be made up elsewhere.);
  • Award of $256.651.73 for more work on the Green Lake sewer system in addition to the $3+ million originally allotted as a result of some blasting problems in the original work: recommended for sole sourcing;
  • Expenditure of $10,275 for the first batch of 2013 Sport Tournament grants;
  • Expenditure of a one-time increase to the Sport Tournament grant fund of $5000 to support the Nanaimo Clippers Western Canada Cup Tournament;
  • Expenditure of $4000 for a Community Program Development Grant Application submitted by the Cedar 4-H Sr. Advisory Council.

This is the last COW meeting scheduled to be captured on video for display on the City’s web site where those who cannot attend meetings in a crowded board room at 4:30 in the afternoon can see their Council serve unless action is taken.  It needs only a glance to seen that what is discussed and approved in the COW meetings in of the greatest importance to citizens and taxpayers. Without the video record, minutes which appear some weeks after the meeting, are a very poor substitute.  For example the matter of the dams in Colliery Dam Park appeared in the agenda at which the matter was introduced (Oct. 29) as:

“(b) Ms. Susan Clift, Director of Engineering & Public Works and Mr. Bill Sims, Manager of Water Resources to provide a presentation regarding the Colliery Dams.”

The minutes of that meeting noted that:

“(b) Ms. Susan Clift, Director of Engineering & Public Works and Mr. Bill Sims, Manager of Water Resources provided a PowerPoint presentation regarding the removal and naturalization of the Lower and Middle Colliery Dams and advised of public open houses to be held on November 5 and 8, 2012.”

Without the video, this was the entire record of this very important issue.  It is difficult to imagine anything less transparent and frankly, less honest, than this paper record.

If you think that citizens and taxpayers are owed more by our Council and our Staff, call or email your Council to demand that the video record be maintained:

Email: mayor&council@nanaimo.ca   or

Tel:  250-754-4251 at City Hall and ask that your message be passed on to Council.

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