The smell test

Section: 
Editorial

Do you want to sell the Brooklyn Bridge or lease some office space?

 

See Kincardine council.

 

We hear talk of “due diligence” from politicians but that seems like a foreign concept around here.

 

Due diligence was nowhere in sight when it came to council’s deal to rent space downtown for a tourist booth that will be shared with the BIA, the Chamber of Commerce and PREDC.

 

First, members of council didn’t have time to read the rental agreement they were presented with Wednesday. And council was told the lease had to be signed by the following day. Why?

 

The agreement was drawn up by a realtor, the president of the Chamber who is also a member of PREDC. The Chamber is subletting the space to the municipality. Most people would consider that a conflict of interest.

 

If the Chamber is partnering with the municipality, and the municipality is subletting from the Chamber, shouldn’t council know what the Chamber pays a month for the space?

 

Council members approved an unread document, and it shows. Some councillors believed the lease was for one-year (it was three) and some didn’t know the office space square footage included a hallway and part of the basement.

 

Unfortunately, only two council members – Randy Roppel and Maureen Couture – believed approval of the lease should be deferred until the first meeting in April.

 

Couture said it was irresponsible for council to use taxpayers’ money to rent half the space it currently has for the same price.

 

Roppel said the groups who want to join with the municipality should pay their own bills. “Is the reason you’re here because you need funding and want to do it on the backs of taxpayers?” (I’d like to know the answer to that one.)

 

The municipality will have 53 per cent of the space and pay 68 per cent of the lease.

 

The Chamber is a business organization and should receive no subsidies from the taxpayers. PREDC receives $140,000 per year from Kincardine. The BIA is funded by ratepayers who own buildings in the downtown area.

 

This deal fails the smell test.

 

Council failed to heed the concerns of staff. One councillor rudely treated an interested citizen who questioned the deal. In brief, council didn’t do its homework and it has shunted its hard-working tourist department into a cubby-hole for three years.

 

Roppel and Couture noticed the smell. What happened to the rest of council?

 

Fortunately it’s an election year.

 

**

 

I wasn’t impressed with the reception the Tiverton Ratepayers were given when they attended last Wednesday’s council meeting.

 

They had some interesting questions about the sale of Bruce Telecom that most taxpayers would like to have answered.

 

It appears that the consultants hired to oversee the sale will receive a two per cent commission on the sale. That’s a nice piece of change. We don’t know what the legal bills will be or who the lucky consultants are.

 

Anyway, Bruce Telecom has deep roots in the community and council should have explained details of the sale before it was consummated. The process seems suspicious otherwise.

 

Mayor Larry Kraemer told the ratepayers, once again, that had they made the sale public,  the value of the company would have been undermined. That argument makes no sense to me.

 

Asked if he was refusing to provide full details about the sale, Kraemer said, “I would say, yes.”

 

How is the public to know if the deal was a good one for the municipality?

 

Transparency?

 

Again, it’s an election year.