Meaford CAO Frank Miele released the municipal 1st Quarter report today. The report is included in the agenda for the Monday night council meeting.
I have to say, I am concerned.
Before I continue, I should say that I think it is excellent that the new CAO has been issuing these quarterly reports to keep council and residents informed and up to date. This is a nice step toward improving the dissemination of information in this community.
I am troubled that the report tends to be buried within an agenda or in the documents section of the municipal website, but I like others remain hopeful that this will improve once the (severely behind schedule) revamp of the municipal website has been completed.
I'm not so much concerned with what is in this 1st Quarter report, but with what isn't included.
I find it curious for example that in previous quarterly reports there has been a year to date financial report that showed budgeted items compared to revenues and expenses to date. I couldn't find that in this quarterly report.
I know it is only the first quarter, and you can't draw any conclusions about how the year will end based on the first three months of activity, but it is still nice to have that information in the report and available for all to review.
Omitting it from this report is bound to get tongues wagging. I can hear it now:
“What are they hiding?” or “Things must be bad, the numbers aren't there.”
Sure there is a synopsis of the 2010 capital and operating budgets, but I don't see the up to date financial information.
If it has been included before, it should be included now.
Other concerns include the fact that with the library for example, there is no mention of the fact that the grant application for infrastructure funds to build a new library was turned down.
Yes, this fact was reported in the media, but I still think that it would be important to include in a quarterly report what the plan is given that funding was denied.
I also think that perhaps some creative solutions to problems like the library facility should be explored and included in the quarterly report.
Most people reading this know that I am a huge fan and supporter of the library. I think that we have a fabulous library staff that do the best possible with what they have to work with. But the facility is a definite concern. Why is this not listed under “Challenges” in the quarterly report?
Why no mention of the fact that a municipal employee must climb up onto the roof daily to ensure that the seagulls haven't clogged up the drainage pipe for rain water? That is a challenge in my opinion.
The approach taken thus far to address the fact that the library is both bursting at it's seams and is falling apart have been far too traditional.
Apply for a grant, cross your fingers, and hope that the upper levels of government give you money that everyone pretends is free money when in reality is still comes out of our pockets, and then start building.
What about some creative thought? Why do we (and every other municipality) have to always go down the same road?
There are some alternatives that I don't think have been properly explored. There are empty buildings in town that if some work was done could accommodate a library, and likely at a far lesser cost than constructing a brand new $4 million facility.
We want to say that Meaford takes going green seriously. So much so that “Green Business” was one of the four pillars identified in the MEDS project, so why not look at a sustainable approach to solving the library problem? Why not find a cost effective way to re-use something that is already there?
Other things missing from the quarterly report include the challenges associated with lawsuits that the municipality is involved in. Suing or being sued involves not only large amounts of cash being diverted from more important areas, but also staff time and energy.
When there are lawsuits flying all over the place, and yours and my tax dollars are being spent, I consider that to be a challenge, and I think that some sort of update in a quarterly report isn't unreasonable to expect.
I love that we now get these quarterly reports. They have some very good information, and they are very pretty with all of the pictures and fancy formatting. But there seems to be a lack of some important substance.
Like that old television commercial used to say: “Where's the Beef?”