Timing is everything

Well, my gal Joni MacFarlane has come through again (with a little prodding from yours truly, I’m thinking? :-) ) in doing an ‘excellent job’ by way of reporting on the fast, under the table dealing, by our administration and council in what can only be called a cold, calculated, sinister, and diabolical ‘tax grab’ from those least able to afford it, or to defend themselves…

Editorial – Crowsnest Promoter
By Joni MacFarlane Editor

Timing is everything

Council has now passed the new bylaw increasing penalties on unpaid property taxes.

First reading went through on Nov. 29. One week later – Dec. 6 – second and third readings were passed.

So what?

During the voting process of the final reading, council was told by administration that they’d received no opposition from the public on the issue.

The reason the municipality hadn’t received phone calls on the issue, was simple. The public didn’t know about it yet.

Because two meetings had been cancelled in November, council then held meetings over two consecutive weeks.

Few people ever attend council meetings and those that do, usually stay for a particular portion of interest to them and then leave as soon as they can.

Without over-inflating the media’s importance, it’s still the first source for accurate reporting on municipal news.

Due to the nature of press deadlines and publishing dates, by the time the newspaper’s story hit the newsstands, the bylaw was a done deal. Residents didn’t get a chance to react and in most cases, weren’t even aware of it until the bylaw was passed.

This is the downside of holding council meetings back to back. Unless there is a public hearing or an issue of importance is given time for public awareness, weekly newspapers can’t bridge the shortened timeline.

Municipal administration may want to consider this when they’re advising council of the public’s apparent indifference.

In some cases, it may not be as it seems.


Comment:
This is a council in financial trouble, I’m thinking. When they have to resort to subterfuge in order to push through their agenda, while at the same time rushing in the new outrageous tax penalty of 50% to take effect at the end of this month, giving people 2-3 weeks notice only, is disgraceful and shameful. Especially, considering what time of year it is. Never mind, that it is unfair, unjust and just plain wrong!

 

The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office.

from John Prince
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11 Responses to Timing is everything

  1. Anonymous says:

    The claim of cash flow issues, revenue shortfalls etc were proven to be nonsense again last night Finance Officer Marion Vanoni informed council that revenue for 2011 is anticipated to “exceed” budget.
    The information is available on the municipal web site under Council/G+P packages.

    Dean Ward

  2. Anonymous says:

    why would they be rushing this through the way they have then? After all, it is a long time until property tax revenues come in in June and if recent history is to repeat itself they will soon be borrowing (if they haven’t done it already) 1 million plus dollars to carry them over the next few months until 2011 property tax revenues pour in in June.

    It has been said that administraion was the instigator behind this sinsiter 50% tax, and Marion is the CFO and part of administation, is she not? It looks to me like the whole bunch got caught with their ‘greedy’ hands in the cookie jar?

    What they are trying to do is wrong! They should rescind this Bylaw.

    JP

  3. Anonymous says:

    Once again we see that no man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the council is in session.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Dean, further to your comment above by way of my comment to you on your blog…

    Do you even know what you are talking about any more Dean? You are all over your blog and mine acting as an ‘apologist’ for administration and council telling people the cupboards are not bare, yet you keep writing about all this hiring, bankrupting the municipality, and/or where is the money going to come from to pay for all these new employees?

    Obviously it’s coming from the poor and downtrodden in this community by way of their rushing through (under-handededly, I might add – see this week’s Promoter’s editorial) the Property Tax Penalty Bylaw which is being fast-tracked to take effect at the end of this month. Short notice, rush job, would be an understatement which suggests they are strapped for cash and desperate.

    In addition, you know yourself that for years now this municipality has to borrow money at this time due to not having sufficient reserves (like most well run community’s have) to carry then over until the 2012 property tax revenues come in, next June.

    Why you are buying into what Marion is telling you is beyond me? Are you that gullible? Well paid salaried employees living in a bubble who have obviously forgotten their roots (as in this case) are skilled at presenting to mayor and council what they want and expect to hear, while at the same time BS the public that their affairs are in good order. Isn’t that exactly what we had with the Irwin regime? Only to find out what we had been told was far, far from the truth? Sounds to me like it is déjà vu, all over again.

    As a final note on your comment … “At last night’s G+P meeting the Finance Officer reported that revenue for 2011 will exceed Budget.”… 2011 ends in two weeks, what about 2012???

    JP

  5. Anonymous says:

    Paragraph 2

    John I would like to understand where you feel I am acting like an ‘apologist’ for administration and council? What I do understand is after sitting on council for six years the financial situation of this community. The point I am trying to make again and again is this community does not have the where with all to sustain all of what these guys are doing in the future without a significant increase in their revenues (which means we will all pay, in the form of franchise fees, tax penalties, tax rates etc).”

    Paragraph 3

    Eventually the vast majority of the dollars will come from the poor and downtrodden, I did read the report of the affordable housing committee and know full well what the demographics of our population are. In February the preliminary numbers on the 2011 census come out you will see despite all the hiring the mines have done the numbers will not have changed much from 2006. For the sixty percent of our population that is over 50 on a fixed income or facing that situation in the next 10 years. This community is becoming less and less affordable. This community cannot just keep turning to the old practice of raising taxes, franchise fees, user fees to fulfill a small groups dreams of what this community should be.”

    Paragraph 4

    The last two years I was on council the line of credit was not used we forced the administration to live within its means, that’s why our last budget, we put in place both a hiring and over time freeze. What was incredible the operation of the town did not come to a screeching halt and we managed to start rebuilding the reserves by putting $450,000 back in plus we also paid cash for equipment that was required that year.”

    Paragraph 5 + 6

    The point I was trying to make there John is the people that are trying to justify the tax penalty are arguing that the delay in residents paying their back taxes is causing financial problems for the community. The CFO clearly showed that is not the case therefore one less argument to justify those penalties.”

    2012 they will not have the budget done until the end of March.

    Dean Ward

  6. Anonymous says:

    Dean, I think we have had a case of miscommunication, in that I interpreted your comment “At last night’s G+P meeting the Finance Officer reported that revenue for 2011 will exceed Budget.” to mean something quite different from what you intended in your second to last paragraph above.

    On the point of “one less argument to justify those penalties” it appears at this time they are fresh out of arguments while also feeling no obligation to justify their past and on-going actions, and have now gone silent, closed mouth sort to speak, resorting to saying nothing at all on this matter, as per Councillors Gallant and Saindon’s blogs in response to my comments there.

    These guys think and behave like they are demi-gods answerable to no one, unless they personally appear before council. The way things are going they might soon get their wish. Maybe more than their little council chamber can handle?

    JP

  7. Anonymous says:

    Just called the municipal office to find out when their next council meeting is to be held and was told it won’t be until January 10, next year. So much for appearing before this council prior to the implimentation of this new Property Tax Penalty Bylaw. Rush it through, public opinion and debate be damned. What an arrogant, devious bunch we now have on council!

    While still on the phone, I left a message for Marion, who apparently was in a meeting, to return my call so that I too can voice my displeasure with this new Bylaw, as I understand from reception others are doing as well.

    JP

  8. Anonymous says:

    Spoke with Marion yesterday who informed me I was her very ‘first caller’ on the issue of the Property Tax Penalty Bylaw. Find that hard to believe, but who knows? Knowing this community as I do, unless it affects them directly in their pockets, their attitude is “to hell with the other guy”.

    But I’m sure, once these brave councillors who are presently exploiting our poor and defenceless start reaching high enough up the community tree, towards the rich and powerful, (ya, right!) I’m sure at that time they will be reigned in. But in the meantime, it’s okay to rob and beat up on our lowly. After all, it is Christmas time and we all profess to be good little Christians, don’t we? But the truth be known, we so ‘enjoy’ picking on those who are so intimidated by us that they can’t or won’t fight back… not even with a phone call”. Sad, but according to Marion, maybe, true?

    If in fact it is true, then council, I’m sure, will feel emboldened in having been given carte blanche to not stop here with their desperate need to raise much needed revenue by raising taxes any which way they chose, including by way of extortion and exploitation… as in this case… and do whatever else they feel like doing in repeating what they are doing here with this unjust and unfair Bylaw (except to earn it, of course).

    Does it matter whether what they are attempting to do is right or wrong, moral or not? As long as it doesn’t affect us, right? But then there are others who say, “who’s to stop them? If not us, then who? If not now, then when?

    JP

  9. Anonymous says:

    John, as far as those in this community directly or indirectly affected by this ‘tax grab’ (as you put it) doing anything, even making a simple phone call, don’t hold your breath, you’ll suffocate waiting.

    Bill

    p.s. Then again, I remember a time a few years back when you were able to get over 500 people at the Hillcrest Hall to come out in support against yet another tax grab by our local politicians. Will history repeat itself? It would be nice, as this community and council needs a little shaking up.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Bill, I’m sure you know that we have had a declining population here in the PASS for some years now. In this regard, I think most of those 500 brave and hardy souls have left town, leaving us only with the well-heeled and downtrodden, who fear their own shadow. Not many left willing and capable of fighting the good fight against injustice for those who won’t, or can’t, I’m afraid.

    Love your quote “don’t hold your breath, you’ll suffocate waiting”. Good one! :-) And so true, I’m thinking!?

    JP

  11. Anonymous says:

    We hear often that there is no use in working to improve our life, to fight evil, or to establish justice, because progress will occur by itself. Imagine that a boat floats along a river. Imagine that those who have sat by the oars and rowed tirelessly have stopped and gone ashore; and that the travelers who remain in the boat do not bother to take up the oars and push the boat further, but think that it will travel by itself, as before, into the future.

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