Curious Midlander Asks More Questions About Town Issues
In our continued attempt to get clear and honest answers from our Mayor, Council and CAO John Skorobohacz on a variety of important issues to the Midland community, here is our next installment.
Curious Midlander Edition #2 (Click this to read Edition 1)
We have been researching these additional curiosities and are hoping Council and/or the CAO can provide some explanations:
As the process unfolds for the transfer from the Midland Police Services to the OPP, will Council be “open and transparent” in telling the Midland taxpayers the actual, true costs of this project? Our sources indicate the number and amount of the “buy-outs” for existing Midland Police Services personnel may far exceed Council’s projections, which will lead to additional costs to the taxpayers as a result of this Council decision. Indications are there will also be an expensive upgrade to the current Midland Police Services facilities in order to satisfy the requirements of the OPP. What are these costs? Have they met budget projections? Are these upgrades only a temporary fix and will the Midland taxpayers be forced to contribute to a new, expanded OPP facility in the near future? Who is responsible for selling the existing equipment and vehicles that the OPP will have no use for? Will there be a full reporting on the actual costs of this transition or will it simply be kept quiet?
The effects on the Midland taxpayers as a result of the recent sale of the MPUC have not been made public. Council appears to be more interested in spending the proceeds of this sale rather than receiving up to date reports on the actual costs and ramifications of another example of poor Council decision making.
General Committee meetings of Council have traditionally had lengthy agendas, filled with reports from staff seeking approvals on numerous projects. The agenda items appear to be declining from the normal 15 to 20 items to a record low of two items at the November General Committee meeting. Have the Town staff become so competent that they are vigorously implementing Council direction that there is no need for reports? Are Council initiatives being undertaken with little or no “openness and transparency”? Is Council (and therefore the Midland taxpayers) being kept in the dark of what is actually going on? (if in fact there are any new ideas).
It has been reported the Town Treasurer has publicly been highly critical of staff who were in that position in the past. If the reports are accurate that the Town’s finances are in a shambles, how and why did this happen and what did Council of the day do about it? These critical comments appear to be in line with standard reports that come from Provincial and Federal Governments when a new party takes power when they report the finances are in terrible shape, far worse than what they were led to believe. It appears to serve no purpose for this attack on previous staff other than to shift the blame and focus from the existing administration instead of correcting the problems.
During the first real snow fall of the season (November 19/20) the Town’s roads were treacherous with icy conditions that caused numerous problems for motorists. In past years, the Town’s Public Works crews have kept the roads safe and clear when these winter conditions start. There was little evidence of our expensive fleet of snow removal vehicles on our streets. What has happened to this service that used to be at the forefront of ensuring safe travelling conditions? Speaking of Public Works, will Council and the taxpayers find out if in fact the brand new facility is over budget or not? When can we expect to see a report with a complete financial picture presented to Council? Will anyone be held responsible for the reported over expenditure?
The Heritage Committee recently presented a report to Council seeking a heritage designation for an area they deemed to be historically significant. Council was quick to turn down the recommendations and dismiss the report. Why have a committee if Council does not accept their recommendations? Could it be that Council doesn’t care about our history? Or, do they have no confidence in the Town Planner who, in our humble opinion, is a very competent professional who regularly presents well researched and thought out reports to Council only to have these initiatives turned down because the Midland Community group does not like or support the Town Planner?
Still no public explanation from Council on the hiring trend in “Innisfil North” (aka Midland)? Is Midland becoming a dumping ground for new staff who have proven to be less than competent in other municipalities? Is this why the vacant Director of Human Resources position was not publicly posted for all to see? Are these decisions a result of Council incompetence, a lack of Council oversight or a result of a CAO who has been given the ok to do whatever he pleases?
The next edition will provide comment on the Service Delivery Review report and the Ad Hoc Governance Review initiative (if these two reports are ever presented in a public forum). Also stay tuned for comments on the Town’s 2018 budget deliberations – how will they follow up their 3% increase in 2017? Does anyone know? Does anyone care?