The first question you have to ask after following Collingwood Council’s sloppy and inept budget process is “Where did the money go?”
Then the second question you have to ask, “Are they really that dense?” Yes, but let’s start with the first question.
Back when he promoted dismantling the water utility from its partnership with Collus-PowerStream (CPS) and taking the utility under town control – a process that has proven a disaster for the town – the interim CAO promised we’d see a savings of $750,000 a year. But now the town is trying to privatize those water services by selling them to a for-profit corporation from Alberta, that “savings” vanished from the recent budget. Where did it go?
In the 2017 budget, that promised “savings” wasn’t even raised by The Block, in part because they were all so bemused and befuddled by the parade of numbers they couldn’t keep up with any of the current stuff, let alone savings promised more than a year ago – promises they swallowed hook, line, and sinker.*
Where did it go? But that’s not all you should worry about in the budget.
There is a $280,000 “contingency” for running the IT services that used to be provided by CPS via the shared services agreement. That’s just the start of the IT expenses, by the way; it’s only the amount required to cover the remaining six months of 2017 after CPS stops providing the services (end of June). And it doesn’t count the costs of the administration hiring its sole-sourced consultant out of Barrie to manage the transition (and who may be given the management contract without an RFP). Nor does it include the cost of hiring the third person that will be required for the full transition, or the cost of all the necessary hardware and software.
Here’s what CPS charged the town for those IT services the past five years:
Year Supervision Technical Annual Total
2016 $34,718.52 $114,090.02 $148,808.54
2015 $27,774.84 $101,435.87 $129,210.71
2014 $27,097.44 $108,129.66 $135,227.10
2013 $26,436.43 $110,554.53 $136,990.96
2012 $25,666.44 $119,700.42 $145,366.86
So a little basic math tells me that the town plans to spend almost double for half a year what CPS charged for a FULL year. And a full year of great service that went above and beyond any contractual agreement. How is that good fiscal management?
This is but a snapshot of how inefficient and expensive this mess has been so far. It’s going to get a lot messier and more expensive next year. But these extra costs weren’t raised during the discussions because of The Block’s slavish kowtowing to the administration.
Add that $280K to the mysteriously missing $750K and you have MORE THAN $1 MILLION of your taxes wasted or missing in this year alone. Imagine how much MORE it will cost us when the town takes over the billing and the mailing services at the end of 2017 (currently provided by CPS). We’ll need MORE staff, more hardware, more software… more unnecessary expenses sloughed onto the taxpayers.