Carbonear's spending practices, salaries criticized

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A Carbonear resident is slamming spending practices in the town. He believes more basic priorities such as clearing brush from hydrants is being overlooked.

Editor's note: the following letter was published in the Oct. 2, 2012 print edition of The Compass.

 

 

Please allow me some space in your newspaper to make the taxpayers of the Town of Carbonear aware of the management of our funds by the "Magnificent Seven," a.k.a. the members of the council in our town.

This group has no regard to spending our tax dollars wisely as is evident by their spending practices in the past year. Information obtained from town records show that staff at the town hall are being paid handsomely for the work they perform and they do not have a problem receiving an annual increase in wages while we, as taxpayers, are faced with a tax increase.

The information shows that the town administrator receives $80,300 per year, while the town clerk receives an annual salary of $59,800. These are high salaries compared to ordinary workers. The director of operations and public works receives $72,300 annually. Our mayor receives $13,000, and the deputy mayor receives $11,000, while each councillor receives $10,000 for their input.

This past year shows that this "Group of Seven" spent $50,000 on a new logo for the town and in correspondence from the chambers they expect this logo to attract new businesses to come and open their doors.

In one year I challenge council to inform the taxpayers of the number of businesses that moved to Carbonear to open a business because of our infamous logo. Council used our tax dollars to pay for this logo, as well as the hoopla that followed the unveiling of the logo and placing this logo on all council vehicles. What a joke and what a waste of taxpayers dollars.

This council used our tax dollars to purchase a new vehicle in excess of $50,000 for our director of operations and public works, so that he can drive around Carbonear. For the distance that this individual drives around Carbonear they could have purchased a moped and saved the taxpayers $50,000.

Council records show that there is approximately $700,000 overdue in unpaid taxes. What are they doing to recover these monies. If they are cutting off town services then there must be a lot of people in Carbonear without water and sewer services. Yet, in March of each year they are threatening to cut services when the taxes for the current year are not paid. Seeing that you have five staff employed down at the town office then why don't you utilize their services better in having these staff collect the overdue taxes?

Last year I saw my taxes increase and I have questioned why they went up and I was advised it was due to increase in real estate in this area. I know for certain that there are two individuals employed by council whose properties are far below their actual value.

In case council is not aware the real estate market has decreased in the past year, so I hope I will see my taxes decrease accordingly next year.

In my opinion, besides water and sewer, the only other service that I am receiving from this town is a glorified garbage collection. During this past winter their snowplow operators deliberately tore up the sods again on my property and I have had all council members up to my residence and each one agreed that in their opinion that this damage was done deliberately.

They stated that they would speak to the person in question but the operator continued tearing up my property. Maybe they should spend some of our tax dollars to enroll their operators in a snowclearing 101 course so they can properly plow the town streets.

No time for Targa

This past week I was subject to the worst account of spending that I have witnessed since coming to Carbonear, namely the Targa event.

Now I am aware that I may receive some flak because everybody is probably aware that Targa is associated with autism. My opinion is that Targa contributes nothing to the Town of Carbonear.

The council saw fit to close down some of our streets in order for this event to take place. Other communities in the province have not permitted this event because of the danger it presents.

I experienced first-hand on Hoyles Road last week of the blatant abuse of taxpayers monies. The street was buzzing with council workers, and I don't blame the workers as they are doing what the employer is telling them to do. There were so many workers and vehicles on my street that I thought it was the Carbonear version of the Keystone Cops.

They were fixing up the pavement, blowing pebbles and dust off the street, and even had their vehicle sweeper out to clean the streets. I was expecting at any moment to see a minesweeper enter the harbour to search the waters and bomb sniffing dogs on our streets to sniff out our garbage bins along the course route.

One resident even commented that her street was "washed, shampooed, and blow dried" in preparation for this Targa event. There were posts erected and tape placed across driveways and people were told point-blank that they were not allowed to be on or near the street during this spectacular event.

Even our director of operations and public works was seen placing Targa posters in various businesses around town and travelling through town in his new vehicle with his amber lights flashing. This can only happen in Carbonear. What a waste of our taxes.

Streets along the route were patched up for the Targa race. I observed on Mahaney's Lane that half of the street had been patched, but only up to Soper Avenue which was the turn-off for the Targa. What an insult to the taxpayers that live on Mahaney's Lane beyond the Soper Avenue turn-off that their part of the street was neglected but the race course was looked after.

Ever since spring we have been complaining about the road conditions and nothing was done. One only has to drive Bond Street, Adelaide Street, and the Valley Road to witness the road conditions. All the money that was spent on workers' wages and equipment used for this event could have been put to better use.

I would estimate close to $20,000 was spent to prepare for Targa and not one cent was contributed by Targa. I watched some of the race and thought this was going to be the biggest racing event of the year. The speeds on Hoyles Road were no different from any other day on our street. I have seen quads and dirt bikes driving on my street at faster speeds than the Targa participants.

The monies wasted on this event by our council could have been spent more wisely and one way would have been to cut down the brush from the fire hydrants on our street as you will soon need a GPS to find them, and we all know council is in possession of these instruments.

It's time for Council to get a grip on their spending in this town and spend the tax dollars on things that will benefit the people and not on childhood fantasies like the Targa event. Maybe you should take our concerns, along with your Targa dinkies, and go in to your privileged meetings and make some decisions that will benefit the people of Carbonear, but it's very unlikely that will happen.

Rumours are abound in Carbonear that next year our council will be hosting the "Running of the Bulls" and this should be a spectacle to behold. Over the past 35 years I have seen the circus performing down at the town hall, and it still continues to perform. The only thing that has changed is some of the clowns.

Ross Ryder writes from Carbonear

Organizations: Group of Seven

Geographic location: Carbonear, Targa, Hoyles Road Soper Avenue Bond Street Adelaide Street Valley Road

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Recent comments

  • Steve Finn
    November 22, 2012 - 15:42

    There is merit in what Ross says but judging value received for money spent is a very difficult thing in a lot of fields . It is especially difficult in a small town at home . The basic function of a Municipal Government is pretty mundane stuff , get rid of the garbage , look after the roads etc . I can see how spending money on something like Targa can raise a persons blood pressure given the times we live in . I also agree there is no spot on the Town Balance sheet that will show any value for the money spent on Targa ,However I stil believe it is a worthwile expenditure of my money (I still pay taxes back home just like Ross does ) and here is why I do ; Targa is a world class event and the $ 20, 000.00 will come back over a period of time in a number of different ways that are not obvious or as I stated earlier , ways that won't show up directly on the balance sheet . Spending money on Targa is a very cheap form of advertising . I could drone on incessantly about good will , intrinsic value etc but i won't , you either get it on things like Targa or you don't . Now to move on to the salaries of the Town Council and its employees . The numbers for employees at first glance appear high ,but on further reflection, given what they are expected to deal with year in year out, the numbers are not terribly out of line . With respect to the Mayor and Councillors, the amounts quoted are vey low given what the positions entail . Seriously , I think they need a raise . Where I feel the Town could really has an opportunity to improve (in my view ) is with the size of its workforce and even more so with the amount of heavy equipment it has accumulated over the last 20 years . The number of loaders , trucks and backhoes Carbonear has amazes me every time I am home, Based on all my previous comments my personal recommendations to Council are as follows ; 1) Keep supporting Targa , its good for the Town , 2) put yourselves in for a reasonable raise 3) Take a hard look at the staff level in all areas (not just the office salaries ) 4) Look towards liquidating some of that large stockpile of heavy equipment that is presently being carried . 5) Bring in an independant party to have a look at items 1-4 and see what they say also . Steve Finn

  • Lady Newfie
    November 02, 2012 - 16:09

    Just wondering why the subsequent articles on this matter are not posted online?? They have appeared in print, and so should be online as well.

  • hannon anson
    November 01, 2012 - 23:10

    the most appalling must the town hr grace, come see our new sports arena while tearing the hell of of your car getting here on our roads.

  • jerry
    October 25, 2012 - 18:08

    I though the new vehicle was for keeping an eye on the highway north self storage mall. At least that's where I see it most times...

  • DON II
    October 05, 2012 - 08:23

    I commend Ross Ryder for having the courage to speak out. The are numerous Town Councils which are out of control and are not being properly regulated or policed by the Department of Municipal Affairs. Essentially, the attitude of the Department of Municipal Affairs is that the town councils are autonomous and can do whatever they want, pay their employees whatever they want and impose whatever regulations and taxes they choose and the Department of Municipal Affairs will NOT intervene. I am aware of one case where the Department of Municipal Affairs stepped in to take charge of a Town Council but that only happened when the operation of the Town virtually ground to a halt due to personality conflicts, harassment, acrimony and disagreements that escalated out of control amongst the members of the Town Council. I note that Mr. Ryder believes that the Council Plow deliberately tore up his lawn. I know of a homeowner in another town in Conception Bay North who opposed the actions of a Town Council. Over the years, windows in his house were broken out by rocks and dozens of felt nails were thrown into his driveway. It appears that some towns elect and hire people who act like thugs and cannot professionally handle the power they acquire by getting elected or hired to a Town Council. For some, it is a great opportunity to harass and pay back anyone whom they have a personal disagreement, agenda or vendetta against and they can harass these people with the power of the Municipalities Act and the Government of Newfoundland behind them! In some cases, the towns are run like towns in the Old West of the USA where they crowd in charge of the town did what they wanted with impunity until an honest Marshal showed up to clean up the town. It appears that there are no honest Marshals working for the Department of Municipal Affairs and the Town Councils know it.

  • jim
    October 04, 2012 - 17:26

    hey $50000 for a new vechicle to drive a short distance. i see him everyday at the drivethough of tims.i think he puts more than a few kms