To Council: Area Rating Questions re April 1st COW Meeting

To the Mayor and Councillors in the Municipality of Port Hope,

I was disappointed to be unable to attend the Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting of 1April2014 but there were many items on the Agenda for which I would like to have heard greater detail and perhaps have questions, II will address them in Agenda order.

1. The delegation from the PRC advisory committee.  The long litany of “Whereas” was just a list of motherhood issues.  Essentially it states that “Exercise and social interaction are important to everyone (see many cited references if you don’t believe us-but no one disputes this); therefore be it resolved that everyone in MPH should pay equally for all PRC facilities and programs.” Is it even within the purview of an advisory committee (perhaps with the exception of Finance) to suggest whether there should be a tax rate split?  I mean they could be asked to provide data that could inform such a decision, but the decision is not theirs to recommend, is it?

1.1.3  David Baxter’s report on the Open Houses

Thank you for providing the minutes (or rather summaries) of the Open Houses of March 5&6.  Unfortunately they were somewhat incomplete, confusing, and misleading, posted too late to be used by anyone preparing their own comment sheets for the “consultation” process, and the answers to attendees’ questions were not provided, so all we learned is that other people have questions too.  In my dictionary consultation involves getting answers to questions and then talking some more.

The report states that Council passed a resolution on Feb 25 that staff would decide which 12 topics from the flawed “yellow sheets” survey would be brought forward for further discussion of potential area rating.  This resolution was subsequently withdrawn, or at least publicly refuted by Council members, but the preparation for the open houses barrelled ahead based on this resolution and the flawed results from the survey, and addressed a greatly reduced list of services, omitting several very significant services from consideration.

At this point I wish to formally express my dissatisfaction in the way my own questions on the afternoon of 6March were reported and misrepresented.

“Janet (Waddington) inquired if all the services were up for discussion or if it was limited to what was indicated on the yellow flyer that was circulated.”  Actually, I asked whether all the services included in the yellow SURVEY (although it is interesting to note that the note taker considered this just a “flyer”, which could speak to its perceived importance in the outcome) could be considered at the open houses, not just the few selected by Staff. and was assured by both Jeff Gilmer and Linda Thompson that, as had already been confirmed but not implemented, all 29 services were open for discussion at the open houses.  I then asked why roads, a significant portion of the budget, were not being considered, but there was no real answer (at least not one that anyone can point to now, since no answers seem to have been recorded).  Anyway, it seems that any service that Staff did not deem worthy of consideration has been de facto considered to be “common.”

I was briefly heartened to see in the Conclusions, that “Potentially, Committee could request a draft by-law be provided for further review at the April 15, 2015 Committee of the Whole.” But sadly, I suspect that was a typo.

Is the “Consultation” process now considered to be finished? Will we see any sort of report from the facilitator, or is his role finished as well?

1.1.4  Revised Strategic Plan.  This was finalized in the midst of ENTECH-REM and Area Rating “distractions”, and I confess that I was only peripherally aware of the details.  Most of the plan (at least the 11 page summary version) is motherhood and not open to question; the proof will be in whether/how it is actually interpreted and implemented.  Except for Goal 8: Review and implement a new fair and equitable taxation apportionment for the Municipality inclusive of a consultative public process and potentially effective for 2014

My only objection to the wording here is 2014, which goes against the whole spirit of this goal. As I said, the implementation has yet to be proven. Is there any consideration to extending this date to allow fulfillment of the rest of the stated goal, as was requested in a significant number of the comment sheets and basically dismissed in David Baxter’s summary conclusions??

This was obviously an extremely packed agenda.

Thank you for the opportunity to express my thoughts and ask questions.

 Sincerely,
Janet Waddington