Saturday, February 23, 2013

Collingwood Council's Half Time "Show"

Once again our utility bill for the past month from Collus was extra thick due to the "Half Time" news and update provided to us, a courtesy from Town Council.  After digesting this unsolicited and unwanted information, I sent the following response to each of the members of Council expressing my displeasure.  

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.

Amongst 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 low 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” amongst 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 measured 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, co-ordinator 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.

Respectful submitted,

Rick Crouch


I consider this mid-term self assessment of Council's achievements tantamount to having your child write their own report card.  We deserve a much higher level accountability from our elected officials.  What are your thoughts?

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Rick relocated to Collingwood from Toronto in 1985 through a transfer with Goodyear Canada. In 1987 Rick was recruited by a major client of Goodyear’s, managing their Canadian business based in Barrie before moving to Chicago in 1992 as Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Upon returning to Canada in 1996, Rick ran an industrial products manufacturing company in Stratford, Ontario. In 1998 Rick returned to Collingwood with his two children. Rick is a licensed real estate Broker with Royal LePAGE Locations North in Collingwood and holds his MVA designation (Market Value Appraiser-Residential). He is an active volunteer in the community serving several years on the Board of Directors with the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce as Treasurer, 6 years on the Board of Directors for the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® of which he is the Past President (2008) and currently serves on a committee with the Ontario Real Estate Association. Rick is a diverse executive manager with extensive experience in strategic planning, manufacturing, finance, human resources and quality assurance management.