Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Divert, Deflect and Distract

I can't say I was surprised to see this Windsor Star article this morning.

Critics charge WUC of 'deceptive' practices, 'trickery'

I haven't seen the WUC insert as yet, but I don't imagine it's any different than this 22 page exercise in spin. I blogged about this on the 4th of August - The 3 D's of City/WUC Communication. Most likely they've taken the 22 pages of BS and boiled it down into a more manageable one page.

(from the 22 page WUC brochure)
1. A typical family home uses 294 m3 of water each year.
2. The average residential bill for all of 2007 will be $298.05
3. The cost of Windsor Water is $0.266
4. The total annual bill impact on water and waste water is 25%
5. Old Rates = $635.10 New Rates=$796.23 Difference =$161.13 or 25%
6. Monthly Rate increase based on 25 m3: $15.81 for water $18.81 for waste water Total =$34.62
7. The projected capital investment required to maintain the integrity of our system is estimated at $750 million over the next 30 years. To meet this need the annual watermain replacement levy will go from approximately $25.20 in 2006 to $67.55 in 2007.
8. The average residential bill will see an increase from $219 in 2006 to $298.05 in 2007
9. Watermain Replacement Levy - 45% charge of fixed charges and water consumption charge
10. Summer Levy - The summer levy is an additional charge of 0.249 cents per cubic metre applied to all consumption between May 1st and October 31 in excess of average consumption between November 1st and April 30th
These were all the "facts" included in the 22 page handout. Clear as mud.

The Star's editorial this morning (WUC woes) misses one possible option. If we can't have a Municipal Affairs or Auditor-General audit, then we should move immediately to establish the office of Windsor Auditor General. An interim Auditor General can be appointed for an initial 1 year term. Appointing outside auditors to conduct a forensic audit is not suitable. They do not have the powers of an Auditor-General and the focus would remain simply on financial terms and not any "value for money" considerations.

A municipal Auditor General has all the same powers of investigation that the Provincial Auditor does. The citizens of Windsor deserve nothing less than a full and comprehensive audit, with the broadest terms of reference available, regardless who is conducting the audit.

Make no mistake, the citizens are demanding it.

I'm looking forward to next Monday's Council meeting. Maybe the Mayor will jump down and do a lightsaber demonstration to distract entertain all of us. Lord knows, we've seen every other sort of dog and pony trick, procedural manoeuver and obsfucation possible. The biggest question remaining is whether or not there is a single Councillor willing to second Councillor Alan Halberstadt's motion for an Auditor-General's investigation. If Councillors are too afraid too even second a motion so that there can be a debate and public input, then what do we have them there for?