Why Bother with a Strategic Plan and an Annual Budget?
MPH Press Release July 26, 2018
Authorized Property Acquisition – 74 Queen Street
At the Special Council meeting, Council authorized the Agreement of Purchase and Sale between Pratola Enterprises Limited and the Corporation of the Municipality of Port Hope for Lot lands legally described Part Town Plot Lot 47, Stewart Plan, municipally known as 74 Queen Street. This address is also commonly known as “Lakeland Place”.
At the Special Council meeting on Wednesday July 25/18 a resolution was passed that appears to be a blatant abuse of the Municipality’s planning and budgeting process and obvious avoidance of the Lame Duck provisions of the Municipal Act.
As outlined in Section 275 of the Municipal Act, the Lame Duck period is determined when it is certain that less than 75% of the current members of Council will be returning to sit on the new Council after Nomination Day of the 2018 Municipal Elections. Once it is determined that Council is in Lame Duck, actions are restricted including the hiring of Municipal Officials and making any expenditure which exceeds $50,000.
The Council Meeting scheduled for August 7/18 was moved to July 25/18 – 2 days before the MPH council would be in a Lame Duck position which limited spending to $50,000.
At the Council meeting we found out that the closed door session prior to the Council meeting discussed and agreed that MPH should spend $750,000 on the “Lakeland Place” property at 74 Queen Street.
NO RATIONALE OR EXPLANATION WAS GIVEN FOR THIS PURCHASE COSTING THE TAXPAYERS $750,000!
This expenditure was not included in the 2018 budget nor is there any reference for a need for such a building in the Community Strategic Plan. The property purchase is to be paid for out of the 2017 Operating Surplus.
Here is the problem:
- The Strategic Plan is supposed to provide guidance and direction for the MPH to plan and budget for the subsequent years. The Annual Budget is set to determine the cost of services provided to the citizens including the objectives and strategies set out in the Strategic Plan. If anything other than is what is in these documents is implemented during the year then the municipality operates at a loss and one or more objectives in the Strategic Plan are not met.
- The use (or misuse) of the Operating Surplus is very disturbing. The Operating Surplus is money that is supposed to be used to reduce taxes in future years and/or increase reserves. The 2017 Surplus is a whopping $3,894,580 representing a potential reduction of 23% in the 2019 tax bill.
This expenditure is not in the Strategic Plan nor the budget. So, what is the purpose of spending so much time and effort and involving so many citizens on a Strategic Plan and an Annual Budget if Council can arbitrarily do whatever they want at any time throughout the year?
It also raises the question of integrity of our Council – this meeting was scheduled for August 7 when Council would have been in a “lame duck” position and was moved to July 25 specifically to avoid the “lame Duck” restrictions. As a result we have an expenditure that should not have been made AND it saddles the incoming Council with additional financial strain on the MPH finances and the taxpayer.
So much for openness and dialogue that the incoming Mayor and Councillors said was a key component of their future intent.
On this subject, the taxpayers have not been offered any explanation of why this building was so important that it had to be purchased and purchased “right now” rather than letting the purchase stand for scrutiny by the people who will have to pay for it.
It is possible that the incoming Council will closely examine these “deals” and find that they do not make sense and cancel both them.
Last modified: July 31, 2018