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