Wednesday, November 22, 2017

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Editor,

Meaford council approves another financial disaster (new library).

Meaford has a history of listening to the vocal minority (the squeaky wheels get the grease) and making immature economic decisions (Meaford Hall example).

Council is letting the staff run the show and approves their recommendations with little thought or question.

Council said they had heard from many (please tell us how many) taxpayers that supported a new library.

Every person I speak with believes a new library is not needed.

This downtown location will only benefit a limited number of urban Meaford residents and is not required by the majority of taxpayers residing in rural Meaford and Sydenham.

Free internet/Wi-Fi for all taxpayers would have been much more cost-effective, educational and beneficial.

When the 4 million dollar library budget was approved by all seven councillors, most taxpayers said they did not trust council to make a rational decision and there would be huge cost overruns in the future.

The library budget did not even last two weeks before the treasurer announced another 1 million had to be added to the budget.

How could council approve a 4 million dollar budget when there were extra, unknown costs still to be determined?

A decision should not have been made without a commitment to raise half the funds from fundraising and have firm cost estimates.

Part of council’s funding thought was to use development charges to help pay for the library.

This fund should be used to help with hard costs of road and bridge infrastructure and not a soft cost like a library.

Taxpayers were presented with future costs of 30 million dollars for bridges and 100 million dollars for road work in the next 10 years.

The library budget at 5.2 million is still horribly incomplete with an estimated total cost of 7 million after factoring in costs to relocate the police, renovate the old library, landscape and furnish the new library.

This $7 million budget may still be low if the new building purchased is found to be unsuitable for this type of renovation.

It may be cheaper to demolish the building and build a modern design on that site.

Most taxpayers do not think a new library is needed and if the project proceeds it should be on a vacant site with new construction and not a renovation with unknown costs.

Meaford could have purchased the old 5 acre community school property for $555,000 and located a library there with lots of space for parks or other development.

The old high school property will soon be available and would be suitable for a library and other uses.

There was a proposal to investigate a common public/school library and a community pool with the new school build. That would be a very cost effective library. (What happened to that proposal?)

I thank council for their efforts but I have to declare that Meaford council is not capable of operating this municipal corporation.

Meaford Hall, the library, unneeded equipment purchase, and overstaffing (huge pension liabilities) are examples of council incompetence.

How do we fix the problem?

The cheapest fix would be to pay a penalty and not close the 390 Sykes property purchase.

Put the library plan on hold until an exact budget can be determined, fundraising amounts are complete and a majority of taxpayers support the plan.

Let's make it mandatory that large ticket budget items (over $100,000) be presented to a citizen common sense committee or a mandate question to the taxpayers.

The council does not have the expertise to handle these items and they are making our sky-high taxes even higher.

Insist that council make informed, questioning decisions and not vote yes for every staff recommendation.

Let council know they have made a mistake.

Demand that council works for the majority of its taxpayers and not just their wishes or those of a vocal minority.

If you disagree with the library decision send an email to council or to meafordtaxpayeropinions@gmail.com

Respectfully submitted by,

Robert Gardner, Meaford


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