Tuesday, July 31, 2007
It's interesting to hear Councillor Lewenza discuss the "misrepresentation" that has been going on surrounding the Windsor Utilities Commission rate hike. The sad fact is, it was Councillor Lewenza, the Mayor and various WUC officials who were the source of the misrepresentation.
Between the quotes in the Windsor Star the day before the WUC Open House, the press conference, the Open House and the follow-up story in the Star, you need a roadmap to follow along. I won't even get into how this rate increase was placed on the agenda and passed at Council. Blaming it on the media or others misrepresenting what was being put out there is ridiculous. I don't see a press release outlining their message on either the City of Windsor site or the Windsor Utilities site. The May 10th press release on the WUC cites 600 million over 30 years while the latest figures put out this month are now citing 750 million over 30 years. That's a hell of a lot of inflation in two months. There was mention of a 50% increase during budget ratification, which has become 36%. There have been several mentions of a further rate hike before next year, but when and how much is another topic you don't hear too many politicians being clear about.
Councillor Lewenza congratulated the Mayor on what a good presentation he did last night. He's right, it was a good presentation, it's just a shame it wasn't done six months or a year ago. Even three or four months ago might have been a better time for this information to come forward, you know, right about the time all the budget deliberations were going on.
If you'd like to see a good example of open and public disclosure, debate and consultation, take a look at Guelph's 2007 User Pay budget. This budget encompasses their Parking, Water and Wastewater services. Public notice and meetings were held PRIOR to the budget (and it's rate increases) being approved in December of 2006.
As far as Windsor being the first municipality to deal with their water infrastructure replacement, go have a look at Guelph's 2004 User Pay Budget. For those that don't want to wade through the whole thing, let me give you one quick highlight:
Maybe this issue is nothing more than a justification exercise on why we need a $250,000 dollar communications department. If this whole evolution is any indication, that much money won't even begin to address what's wrong with "communications" in this city.
BTW, nice to see Gord and the Windsor Star are onboard with messaging.