Let's clear the air


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October 18, 2016 9:01 AM

Dear editor:
As the heat is turned up on city council and management on the need for a sewer plant upgrade, the proposed purchase of the old Synergy Credit Union building, the outrageous spending habits of senior management and the lingering previous mayor scandal—fresh in everyone’s mind, except (it seems) for the city manager—for the mayor and three councillors that have decided to ride off into the sunset, they are counting the minutes. For the three remaining councillors who are looking to retain their seats, goodbye frying pan, hello fire.
The city coffers are empty, the nominal previous borrowing limit is now close to being maxed out under the current management regime.
But if you want the facts, turn to The Record the online information source created by the city to deliver the straight goods and clarify misleading information on city matters.
This is so ironic since the first post on this site pertains to accounts payable and this information had many glaring errors.
Incorrect linking of monthly documents, non-legible description lines and blank expense description lines, most notably in the Mastercard area of the documents.
These documents also revealed questionable expenditures, items such as $20,000 in sponsorships for a local curling team, a previous director receiving reimbursement for apartment utility bills, damage deposit and tens of thousands in bridge funding.
What is bridge funding, a hidden bonus of sorts?
Reimbursing the deputy CAO $120 for his commercial driver’s license?
A $5,000 funeral luncheon that is billed to administration salaries?
The extreme amount of “in city” lunch meetings?
And all the travel expenses that pertain to senior city management?
Budgeted at $15,000 in 2011 and escalated to $60,000 in 2015, what is legitimate and what is a vacation?
Trips to Victoria, Banff, Jasper, Toronto, Niagara Falls, Boston, Phoenix, North Carolina, Seattle, Las Vegas, New Orleans, California, golf buying shows, ICMA, CAMA and numerous flights and travel to Calgary and back.
What is the rationale for the oodles of trips to Calgary?
Perhaps querying current general city staff may reveal an immediate answer.
Transparency has been preached by council and management, yet there is still so much gray area.
The June 2016 accounts payable under “Cuets Mastercard” that would normally list expenses line-by-line and describe the purchase and sometimes the individual, now has line items that simply say “Mastercard payment forms.”
It appears expenses are now being summarized on a newly created form and not identifying anything else.
Travel expenses are being divvied up between numerous accounts.
When information was released about travel and meal expenditures reaching $60,000 for the city manager’s office for 2015, is this the only account that was being discussed?
Was consideration also given and factored in when budgets of $30,000 for employee education, $36,000 for car allowance, $122,500 for public relations, $30,000 for memberships and subscriptions are part of the spending?
Staff salaries for 2015 were finally posted, only after an access to information request by an external source forced the city to act.
Staff that were dreading that day would include CAO Glenn Carroll ($207,902.40), deputy CAO Kirk Morrison ($174,232.16), business analyst Don Newlin ($146,253.60), director of planning and engineering, Terry Burton ($140,702.40), and director of Public Works, Alan Cayford ($135,491.20) who round out the top five.
The top three annual salaries total $528,388.16.
A Google search reveals that additional employer costs for benefits, EI, CPP, etc. would be an additional 25 to 40 per cent. Considering an average of 32.5 per cent, this increases their salary cost to a whopping $700,114.31, prior to the previously mentioned travel, car allowance, employee education and memberships.
For the average taxpayer who pays $3,000 per year, it would take 233 homeowners to cover the top three salaries. Is there any justification for such a heavy top end of the organizational chart?
Without Internet, social media, media in general and FOIP, all of the hidden information that keeps floating to the surface about previous contracts, management salaries and management spending, might have been buried forever.  It will be imperative the newly elected council displays fortitude in their decision making process and implement changes immediately.
It’s time to terminate the smoke and mirror show and clear the air once and for all.
Brent Stasiuk

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