A Response to Chadwicks Self Serving Blog ……………..


After reading Chadwick’s last blog I had a feeling someone would respond. I received the following anonymously earlier today:

Collingwood’s Municipal Debt and 2014 Budget: Response to

http://ianchadwick.com/blog/collingwoods-municipal-debt-and-2014-budget/

“In order to maintain a strong financial position, municipalities must be able to continue paying for services that they presently provide. This includes basic services to the public, maintenance and renewal of capital facilities to protect the initial investment and maintain facilities in useable condition” pg 2 Assessment of the Town of Collingwood’s Financial Health January 2014 Prepared by BMA Management Consulting Inc.

The above referenced report was the basis for a 4 page misleading blog post by Councilor Ian Chadwick. To be fair the Councillor did have some facts accurately stated but certainly some of the innuendo and outlandish statements fail to mention him and his pals voting records to accrue more debt. Whether the debt is good or bad that’s something I hope that we the electorate in 2014 can draw our own conclusions. For me good debt can be summarized by buying a house taking out a mortgage investing in your future, that’s good debt. Bad Debt is when the credit cards are maxed out, the line of credit is maxed out and you are living paycheck to paycheck with no real end in sight of how to dig yourself out of the financial hole you have dug yourself into.
“Peer Analysis” pg2
Peer analysis has also been included to gain perspective on the Town’s financial health. The following table summarizes municipalities which are considered good comparators in terms of population growth patterns and proximity.
Assessment of the Town of Collingwood’s Financial Health
Peer Municipalities Region
2012
Innisfil Simcoe 34,310
Prince Edward County Prescott & Russell UCO 25,851
Orillia Simcoe 31,427
Owen Sound Grey 22,226
Springwater Simcoe 18,842
Wilmot Waterloo 20,164
Collingwood Simcoe 19,241

So why is the above peer comparator important? It is used to measure ourselves against similar municipalities. Ask yourself if these are communities you see similar to Collingwood. They are not for me nor did Chadwick. The first glaring mistake is the population of our community is not 19,241!

Growth projection

The Town of Collingwood’s population is closer to 25,000 people. The infrastructure we build in our community is most often for peak usage such as water, waste water and road infrastructure is designed for maximum projected daily usage. So not to include our part-time residents is rather foolish and for our esteemed councillor to ignore them is either ignorance or perhaps it’s politics?
It also matters to all of us because much of the report uses a per capita equation to determine how we compare to others and well you know “garbage in means garbage out!”

There are some good parts to Chadwick’s blog, punctuation and grammar are impeccable!!! Also the concerns raised as to the type of municipal expenditures on the operations sides such as a full-time police force or section 10 contracts like Collingwood has with the OPP and a full-time fire department supported by volunteers have merit. These are significant expenditures and to compare our community to another that does not have similar pressures on their municipal operations budget is just not an accurate picture to measure ourselves by.

Let’s talk about DEBT!
I have to say trying to nail down a figure of the debt in 2006, 2010 and 2014 is very hard. It seems to be a number that can be interpreted by the person who is drafting a blog to accentuate a point, rather than one that accurately reflects financial realities.
Did the Council of 2006-2010 increase the debt from $17 million to $53 million as was stated during the election campaign of 2010, NO! Where those figures came from I have no idea. Our local media (Scoop) did not call out Cooper, Lloyd and Chadwick at the time. The records I have gathered from various sources show the debt in 2006 to be $23.8 million and in 2010 $45.2 million or a 189.92% increase.
What is interesting during the campaign of 2010 these three made a point of decrying this debt. Then voted to approve debentures totalling 14.2 million dollars as soon as they got into council. I mean if they were as concerned as they “pretended” to be during the election campaign was there not an opportunity to make a bold statement that they are not the same as the last group, we will lower the debt as our first act by utilizing some reserves! That kind of of good news would be forgotten by all of us when the 2010 election came around so why not flog to death the old debt number and promote how great this council is at paying down debt. By the way Chadwick and his pals on council did not pay down any debt, WE DID, the taxpayers!
Credit where credit is due though, they did spend $13.5 million and counting on 2 recreational facilities. They did buy a works buildings for $2.25 million. They did build a new fire hall for about $5 million. They still have to replace a baseball diamond! They sold 50% of our electrical utility to the second highest bidder! They gave a local developer everything he wanted and more and we still have a hole in the ground at Hume and Hurontario! We have an OPP anti-rackets investigation into their business practices! They got rid of a CAO and EDO who saved the Barber Glass now Angora from closing! But I digress
The previous council did increase the debt from $23.8 to $45.2 million – $21.4 million of new debt. But we got about $47.3 million of new infrastructure, roads, sewers, library, leisure services, fire trucks, First St. and Downtown revitalization and ………….. no anti rackets investigation!!!
Remember the good debt versus the bad debt discussion? If you invest in infrastructure and someone else pays the down payment of 55% and you can finance the remainder at historic low interest rates, is that sound fiscal management? Plus keep tax increases to a minimum and yes even a small decrease over that same time period. Would you call that investment in our community’s future good debt or bad debt?
Be careful when reading an incumbent/candidates blog post, especially one that tries to distance himself from previous councils that he was very much part of.

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2 thoughts on “A Response to Chadwicks Self Serving Blog ……………..

  1. Excellent comments with respect to the Town’s financial position and Councilor Chadwick’s blog. Coincidentally, back on February 22nd of 2013, I sent the following email to Mayor Cooper and members of Council following the receipt of a four page, full colour football theme newsletter in my Collus bill titled Half Times News. Many of the points raised in this blog and repeated herein.

    To Mayor Cooper and Honourable Members of Council,

    In speaking with many of my fellow constituents in Collingwood, the majority of us either object to or simply do not care to read the political propaganda that is all too frequently being included with our monthly billings from Collus.
    Notwithstanding the fact that campaigning for the next term is two years away, the content as contained in the “Half Time” news and updates is nothing more than self proclaimed accolades with accomplishments that are either superficial and or are in no way quantified in terms of meeting any meaningful goals and or objectives. Further the publication itself, portrayed as a weak analogy to a sports event, does not represent the seriousness with which you should be managing what amounts to a relatively large corporation with millions of dollars in debt.
    Among your highlights you claim the following:

    Taxes
    In year one, “kept property taxes and user fees low” and in year two “kept taxes and user fees lows again.” Compared to what?

    Debt
    In year one, “lowered the Town’s outstanding debt from $41 million” To what? and “topped up our financial reserves.” By how much?
    In year two, “lowered the debt to $37 million by year-end” From what prior level? and “Topped up reserves.” Again by how much? Nothing is quantified in terms of the debt reduction or how much was added to the reserves.

    Costs
    In year one, “Reduced municipal spending” and “Significantly reduced legal costs.” Again bold claims, nothing is quantified.

    Growth
    In year one, “Approved new developments including Creekside and Mountaincroft.” Not true, these developments were underway well before this term of Council.

    Municipal
    In year two, Purchased new Works and Parks & Recreation Dept. property and building at much less than the appraised value.” How many appraisals were obtained? How is an 18,000 square foot building on 5 acres appraised at more than the $2.25 million purchase price when the 200,000 square foot Goodyear facility on 60 acres sold for $1.5 million? The Goodyear sale should have clearly impacted the appraisal of the 10th Line property. That’s how real estate works and this clearly suggests the Town overpaid considerably for this property.

    Recreation
    In year two, “Developed a tax-neutral solution to build much needed, new recreational facilities through the use of Sprung technologies.” You committed to spend over $12 million dollars and in the process divided the community in terms of what recreational facilities people wanted and needed to best serve the municipality’s. Operational costs for the Sprung buildings is a complete unknown at this point. Whatever they are they will result in added annual operating expenses on the Town’s budget moving forward yet the claim is being made that this entire recreational initiative is “tax neutral?”

    Some of the accomplishments not mentioned are as follows:

    In a municipality desperately in need of strong day-to-day management the CAO was let go and taxpayers have no idea as to why. We have no economic development Officer and or initiatives to implement an employment strategy that will replace the hundreds of jobs lost in the community since the shipyards closed in 1986. Instead, you tout your noteworthy accomplishments as being “improved signage on local trails, initiated a natural heritage study, approved a community garden project” among other so called highlights that do not represent the key issues affecting the community nor are they initiatives that offer any tangible form of success measurement.

    Moving forward the “Second Half Game Plan” is said to be the following:

    Taxes
    “Continue to keep taxes and municipal costs low.” What is the definition of low? There are no tax or cost reduction goals indicated. How is Council’s performance to be measure without them?

    Debt
    “Reduce the outstanding debt even more.” How much is “even more” and how with this be accomplished?

    Communications
    “Engage a communications co-odinator to improve social media engagement.” Not only do most people have no idea what this is, coordinator is spelled a wrong. This vaguely referred to position sounds like more cost at a time when you are claiming you will “continue to keep taxes and municipal costs low?

    Admiral Collingwood & The Shipyards
    “Encourage the developers to finish the project this term.” You have no influence and or control over essentially what the market will dictate and seemingly the market has delivered a verdict on both of these projects.”

    In closing, the citizens of Collingwood are in need of and are entitled to a great deal more from our elected officials than a Half Time “show.” Many of the so-called accomplishments outlined in this newsletter are unsubstantiated and superficial in nature that need not consume 4 pages in colour no less. Based on my many years of experience, I can assure you that your unsupported claims of success would never pass scrutiny in a corporate boardroom or at a shareholder’s meeting.
    The only meaningful “score” will be the one made come election day when the citizens of Collingwood cast their ballots. Then and only then will we see how many “touchdowns” you the current Council members will achieve.
    You’ve asked for suggestions, comments and ideas and I have responded as I hope other will as well. Please endeavour to use our tax dollars wisely, refrain from any further unnecessary and unwanted insertions in our Collus bills or elsewhere. I encourage you to manage the Town’s resources as you would your own. Come election time you will have ample opportunity to tout your accomplishments using the appropriate funds from your personal campaign budgets versus the money entrusted to you by the taxpaying community.

    Respectfully submitted,

    I have been lead to believe that this newsletter was orchestrated by Councilor Chadwick and the Deputy Mayor. As was seen based on the Sprung situation, they appear to have a penchants for publishing vague and misleading information. I did incidentally get a response from the Mayor thanking me for my interest in our community but no answers to the questions posed or clarification as to the debt reduction claims etc. As was stated above, garbage in, garbage out.

  2. I found it interesting (for lack of a better word), that once Chadwick found a discrepancy in the John Brown’s (the CAO) report, it took him only a few days to write the blog, and only 6 days to lead a vote at council, that refused to “receive” the report, based on the discrepancy.

    When Chadwick himself, provided council AND the entire town, with false information on the Sprung Shield, it took an investigative report by Ian Adams to expose it. Council did nothing to correct it, and to this day, Chadwick has yet to even apologize.

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