On the December 4, 2012 agenda there was an item:
“8.8 JACKSON11-2012 Amabel Sauble School Financial Responsibility”
In the agenda package there was a copy of a power point presentation apparently put together by a parent of a Sauble school student.
The presentation correctly indicated that the town is paying $16,000 per year to the School board which covers 5% of the school’s $320,000 annual operating cost.
The presentation then says:
“Designated Usage of Space at Sauble School – Municipality 21%”
The minutes capture Tracey Neifer correcting that as follows:
“Manager of Financial Services Neifer explained that the 21% is not used by the Town 24/7 but we have access to the 21% of the space after hours.’
The town is not designated 21% at all. The 21% is a false.
The presentation writer also implicitly assumes that the town’s share of school costs is based on per cent of designated use of space.
That too is false. There is an agreement between town and school. I got the agreement from our School board trustee Terry Bell, so I assume it is current. That agreement clearly sets out who pays what. Nowhere in the agreement does it mention dividing up costs based on “designated space”. And nowhere does it say the Town is designated 21%.
The presentation writer then concludes, from the false 21 per cent premise, and from the false “designated space” assumption, that we (the town) should be paying $67,000 (21% of operating costs), and that we are shorting the school by $51,000.
Those conclusions, being based on a false premise and a false assumption, are of course invalid.
In the minutes of the December 4 meeting it is indicated:
“Manager of Financial Services Neifer indicated that the $51,000 came as a presentation from a parent.”
In other words, it was not from an analysis of the agreement.
The agreement was not included in the agenda package.
During council’s long discussion of this item, the tone went quickly from the $51,000 that a parent concluded that the town should pay to the $51,000 that the town agreed to pay.
The minutes captured this as:
“She [Councillor Jackson] feels that the Town should be paying for the 21% that we have agreed to pay.” (Emphasis added)
Again, from the information I have, there never was any such 21% agreement.
It appears that at least one councillor had concerns. The minutes captured that concern as:
“A member of Council discussed having more information before giving out taxpayers money.”
It took three tries, but finally a motion was passed to give the school an extra $51,000, conditional on the board keeping the school open. Here is the motion record from the minutes.
It was MOVED by J. Jackson, SECONDED by M. Standen
THAT Council gives pre-budget approval to an upset limit of $51,000 contingent on the ARC recommendation that the Amabel Sauble Community School remains open;
In a recorded vote it was passed unanimously.
The town is under no obligation to pay the $51,000. Because the $51,000 decision was made based on completely false information, council needs to rethink it.
The issue will then be whether the Town should pay the $51,000 anyway, even if it is not required by the formal agreement.
There are two perspectives on that issue.
One perspective is that that the town must give the school the $51,000 anyway because it’s for the children and it’s an investment in our future, (and other sundry reasons provided by those favouring donating the $51,000).
The second perspective is that the $51,000 should not be given as it is not fair or ethical to take more from the taxpayers and make all taxpayers poorer and risk a few more losing their homes especially when giving money to schools is not within the authority of the Town anyway.
Although one councillor sort of alluded to the second perspective, it was never really discussed.
I am guessing that’s because taking the second perspective would have made any councillor very unpopular with one of the most vocal segments of the voting public.
It will be very hard for any council member to take the side of the taxpayers, even if they feel it is right to do so.
Maybe some readers of this commentary could encourage a few councillors to speak up, on either perspective.