Internet fishing catches a whopper!!!

Internet fishing

I have a confession to make. In my previous post I purposely took the 2012 Town of Collingwood budget as it was presented to me at Mondays town council meeting at face value, without any further review, because I knew it would cause a stir and start a conversation. I was not expecting the response I got in my comments from someone calling himself Richard Hill. We know that’s not your real name, this is obviously a dig at Chadwicks buddy Dick Hill of Internet Warlords fame.
This is so well written and thought out, I had to post it for all of you to see. Especially as Chadwick is pumping up his own tires so much on his Facebook page. After reading his comments and trying very hard to control my gag reflex, I nearly went back and changed my last post but ended up letting it stand. I’m glad I did, because this blogging fishing expedition came up with the internet version of a 6 lb rainbow trout. See “Richard Hill’s” comment below:

Rather surprised with this take after the previous well done piece on Ontario, especially the nod to this council about performance.

Financial Assets indicate drop in 2012 of $8m from selling a revenue earning asset, so that flips the “well managed” debt drop of $7m. Tax revenue up $500k, User charges&Reserve Contibution&Capital Asset Sale all up $400k each to budget. Tax & User charges are not managed by council they just happen and in this case perform better than expected. Really not sure why budget was set so low which doesn’t necessarily indicate “well managed” either. These items are the big ones that saved this council from actually ending up in the Net Expense situation that they budgeted for(another indication of suspect governance as they should be zero base budgeting) and probably us townspeople from a tax hike, at least for now. Expenses were $350k higher in 2012 than budget and $1.2M higher than 2011, so spending control certainly isn’t in evidence so it shouldn’t be taken credit for.

Further, a gain on sale of their GBE(electric company) of $4M is the major factor to them that they or future councils won’t ever have again. But also since no analysis was ever shown to public (even though the request is logged in the council’s approved Staff report of the public meeting) of the total GBE sale proceeds and what expenses were incurred and who they went to, there is no way to analyze how well this sale was handled for the taxpayer. That should have been in the report and council knows that.

Note 17 Comparison to Budget is the exhibit that shows this council is a micorcosm of Ontario’s mis-management, or certainly raises the question if they even understand budgeting. Yes the summary total looks like it is okay but the dramatically different actual amounts to budget, off by multi-millions of $s on 7 line items!, just can’t happen under good management. Over this past year rushed (recreation) and excess spending(fire hall) while real bricks and mortar issues are delayed (Hume St.), these are indicators of poor governance.

Don’t envy next year’s new council’s situation as they are going to have to be the one’s that deal with us about the reality of our financial position. They will at least be able to look back at these years and uncover more of the actual story of what happened which may help to make us understand why tough decisions are going to have to be made in the future. Facts and figures disclosure will be the next council’s mandate and a welcomed one.

Richard or whatever your name is, would you please send me your email address in my comments section. It will not get published, as I have to physically approve it first before it goes public (which I won’t). I would really like to discuss this with you further. This is all way too much accounting inside baseball for an average nobody like me, but I would like to go over this document on a line by line basis with you. Then we can blog the real story.


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