Doherty’s Magic Money Fairy

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the money fairyAt 3:55:20 in the video of Monday’s Collingwood Council meeting, Councillor Deb Doherty utters the self-congratulatory claim that she is “glad” the costs of the upcoming judicial inquiry to pursue the Block’s maniacal conspiracy theories are not coming out of “taxpayer funds on an annual basis.”

I can hear your head shaking. Where does she think money comes from? And since taxes are calculated yearly, is there any other sort of taxation aside from an “annual basis”? Well, read on…

This bit of financial wisdom comes from the same councillor who last year expressed bafflement over what dividends are and complained that the town wasn’t getting one from the utility to which it had caused excessive operating costs. This from a person charged with helping manage the town’s financial well-being.  Maybe she has other talents.

The costs of this inquiry were estimated at $1.4-$1.6 million in a staff report presented to council April 30. That estimate was vague because it didn’t include the costs of staff time to prepare reports, gather documents and appear at hearings, and possibly other expenses. A similar inquiry held in Mississauga was also estimated around $1.2 million ended up costing the municipality $6.2 million instead!

Doherty made her comment during a discussion on how to pay for the judicial inquiry that Deputy Mayor Saunderson demanded – without anyone (including him) bothering to figure out how to pay for it or even include it in the current year’s budget (Saunderson himself wasn’t at the meeting to answer questions, and my sources tell me he didn’t bother to inform anyone he wouldn’t be there!). So the costs get passed on to the next council (one that will, mercifully, be shorn of Blockheads).

Well, we all know finance has never been The Block’s strong suit. Or ethics, responsibility, openness, public consultation, fairness – but they are huge in conspiracy theories. Yuge, as Trump would say.

So how will the town pay for the inquiry? By taking the money from reserves. And how does money get into reserves in the first place? Yes, you’re going to tell me it gets funded from taxes which we, the taxpayer shell out every year. But clearly Councillor Doherty doesn’t understand that rather basic concept. I suggest she likely believes a Magic Money Fairy flies by at night and with a touch of her wand refills the coffers The Block have depleted.

As soon as she had uttered these words, Councillor Edwards corrected her, noting that “any money we spend comes from the taxpayers’ pocket.” *

True, but that apparently escaped Deb, who retorted that it wasn’t coming from taxpayers’ funds “this year.” So it seems no tax revenue went into reserves in 2018, at least in her mind. Need I tell you how utterly incorrect she is? Or that The Block initiated a fixed, extra 0.75% added to annual taxes to fund reserves? For which she voted? Which has been in the annual budget three times? For which she voted each time ? Okay, stop laughing.

It seems her Magic Money Fairy will simply fill up those reserves regularly so The Block can continue their spending-like-a-drunken-sailor-on-shore-leave-in-a-brothel tactic of financial management. While giving themselves a pay hike every year.

Earlier in the discussion (3:43), Councillor Lloyd commented on the estimated cost, but Councillor Madigan piped up, and asked incredulously where Lloyd got that figure. It was, as we all know, in the staff report Madigan clearly didn’t read. Guessing by the frantic tete-a-tete with a puzzled Councillor Jeffrey, it doesn’t seem like either one actually read the report.

But saying The Block don’t read is one of those “the sun rises in the east” statements. After all, why should they? They already know everything.

At 3:47, Councillor “Senator” Jeffrey crows about how this inquiry “meets our goals and objectives to be open and transparent municipal government” without clarifying how adding another unnecessary burden on taxpayers to pursue wacky conspiracy theories and private vendettas is somehow open and transparent.

Even though this council has held more than 40 in-camera meetings about the utility this term, none of them have once said in public why they didn’t think the previous sale was bad for the community or how the town benefits from selling the whole thing to an out-of-province, for-profit corporation that will not pay a dividend, and will give up all local control over services and rates. How open and transparent is that?

At 3:49 Councillor Tim Fryer – who was Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for Collus during the previous sale of a share of the utility to PowerStream, mumbled inconclusively (as is his wont) about a conflict of interest he may have with any votes on this matter. A bit of the barn-door-horses-got-out there, Tim.

Fryer has never previously declared a conflict in any of the discussions about the sale or during votes that related to it and all of a sudden he realizes that maybe he might be a “party” who gets called to testify about his actions during that sale – and for which the town (i.e. you, the taxpayer) will pay his legal bills. And he still voted for this motion, too. Facepalms all around.

I know, I know, don’t remind me: openness, accountability, ethics, legality – they’re not in The Block’s playbook. But secrecy, deception are.

And during this discussion of such an important issue, Councillor Ecclestone said… nothing. I’m not sure he was awake for it. 

Collingwood deserves better.

~~~~~
* Good on you, Mike, but I bet your Block buddies demand their magic decoder ring back from you after that outburst. They’ll never let you join the club now. Wish you had stood up to them a little more often in the past three-plus years. Nonetheless, after his little huff and puff, Edwards voted for the motion to spend the money.

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