My wife and I attended the July 19th Council meeting on the new Meaford Library.
We are relatively new to the Meaford area and thought this would be a good opportunity to see our local elected representatives in action.
It appears that this meeting was scheduled in response to the tender bids being meaningful higher than anticipated.
The bid being proposed is good for 60 days and is relatively non-negotiable.
We thought that staff did an excellent job in addressing why the project is over budget and making it clear why there is negligible wiggle room to renegotiate the bid.
We were however disappointed by the performance of the Council members.
There appeared to be a general consensus that the location is good but the cost is an issue.
Much time was spent attempting to identify areas where costs could be reduced despite the fact that staff had made it abundantly clear that the bid was not negotiable. While such attempts are admirable it often appeared that the Council members were playing to their audience with several harkening back to promises they had made during their election campaigns as to the total cost of the project.
To us it appeared that Council was not listening to what staff were saying. They appeared to be looking for excuses to avoid or delay making a decision.
We did not understand the cost issue as it appears that Council had previously approved a $3 million increase in municipal debt and the project, as quoted, would increase municipal debt by approximately $3.1 million.
It was a worthwhile exercise as by attending this meeting we now have a very good idea who NOT to vote for in the next election.
A Meaford Newby
Editor's Note: Previous councils have been accused of allowing the 'tail to wag the dog' when it comes to staff recommendations. This council has been more likely than previous councils to challenge staff. Then again, councils are often damned if they do, and damned if they don't.