Re: March 19, 2013 Council Agenda
The pdf version of the full agenda package is at:
An Html version is at:
Following are comments on a few agenda items.
Agenda item 7.1 Stu Paterson and Allan Hunter, Bruce Peninsula Sportsmen’s Association-Lake Levels and the Wiarton Boat Launch
The Bruce Peninsula Sportsmen’s Association is looking for taxpayers’ money to dredge the Wiarton, Sauble, and Oliphant boat launches. They should be going to the Federal Government. Or if some private entity wants to dredge the launches and charge for launching, that might work. But council should say no to the request for municipal taxpayers’ money.
Is there anyone who doesn’t want a key to the treasury?
Is there anyone who doesn’t have a false sense of entitlement?
Agenda item 8.12 CLK21-2013 Unfinished Business-Wiarton BIA
For years the Wiarton Business Improvement Area (BIA) board of management has been collecting levies far in excess of their statute derived authority, and spending the excess outside of their authority.
This came to council’s attention on April 3rd, 2012.
Some of the discussion is reflected in the April 3, 2012 council minutes as:
“The Manager of Financial Services received a paragraph from them [the BIA board] for works they have performed and it is felt that the works are outside the purview.”
“Council discussed the fact that the BIA is not following Town procedures and their own terms of reference.”
“Council discussed a separation of the two groups [BIA and Chamber of Commerce] into distinct organizations.”
With resolution R-292-2012, council decided to investigate the BIA, and to take action as warranted by the investigation.
R-292-2012 It was MOVED by M. Bowman, SECONDED by K. Klages and CARRIED, THAT Council directs the ex-officio Mayor and Council BIA rep to review the terms of reference and the Municipal Act directions with the BIA Board and bring back a report to Council by the end of May.
The BIA “rep” was Chris Thomas.
Not fully captured in the minutes, but fully captured on my digital audio recording, was the fact that the key concern was the unauthorized payment of BIA funds to the Wiarton Chamber of commerce, and the unauthorized collection of a BIA levy to cover these payments. The payments to the Chamber of Commerce made up almost half of the BIA budget. Meaning that BIA levies are at least twice what they should be.
Prior to April 3, 2012 the BIA board met on the 2nd and fourth Tuesday of each month.
In an attempt to avoid any investigation into their actions, as of April 3, 2012 the BIA board cancelled all planned meetings, stopped scheduling meetings, and stopped meeting.
The BIA board has not met since April 3, 2012. Almost a year without a meeting.
The BIA problem is made very clear by a simple reading of the BIA minutes, the BIA annual budget proposal, and the BIA by-law. John Close and Chris Thomas could have easily reviewed those documents and reported on the BIA problem. And they could have called a meeting of the BIA board. After all Chris Thomas is a member of the BIA board and has a right to call a board meeting. Even John Close could have called a meeting.
One might have expected John Close and Chris Thomas to fulfill their resolution 292 obligation by either investigating the BIA problem without the BIA board or by calling the board to a meeting.
So what did Chris Thomas and John Close actually do?
They did nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Chris Thomas and John Close deliberately sabotaged their mission.
Almost a year having passed, the clerk has finally stepped in and wrote a report.
It appears as report CLK21-2013.
The clerk’s report does not address the problem of the BIA board acting outside their authority.
The clerk’s report does not address the problem of the BIA collecting for, and paying, without authority, Chamber memberships.
The clerk’s report does not acknowledge the BIA problems. The clerk’s report does not even mention the problems.
The clerk’s report is a deliberate attempt to sweep (or keep) the BIA problem under the carpet.
The clerk’s report indicated:
“Municipal Affairs indicated that it was legislatively permitted to have a proxy member as there is nothing expressly disallowing it however, voting by proxy can be addressed in operating by-laws if required.”
This is a complete red herring. I believe it is also false.
That there is nothing expressly disallowing something in the Municipal Act does not mean that the “something” is allowed.
I don’t believe anyone from the Ministry would make such a stupid statement as indicated by the clerk.
Council should ask to see what the Ministry official actually said. In writing. And share it with everyone. So the public can judge for themselves.
Council should reject report CLK21-2013, and council should pull the BIA problem back out from under the carpet, and council should address the BIA problem.
And council should ask someone competent to investigate and report.
The key concern is beyond-mandate payments to the Wiarton chamber of commerce.
I have been told, but have not confirmed, that John Close may be a member of the Wiarton Chamber of Commerce, and that Chris Thomas may be employed by a chamber member.
Am I wrong to suspect that there may be a bit of private interest at play?