March 26, 2015 – Here is the Bare Agenda for this meeting and the Agenda with links to the supporting documents that are now all posted. I will attend the meeting tomorrow morning, and prepare and post a report on it (hopefully by early next week).
April 2, 2015 – I apologize to readers for being so slow to prepare and post my promised report on the meeting held on March 27, 2015.
The meeting started promptly in the usual manner. I was pleased to see that Chatsworth Councillor Shawn Greig was there at the beginning, and that Councillor Elizabeth Thompson arrived a little later. It has been obvious for a long time that the management structure, whereby the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and CAO/Clerk attend these meetings and bring back decisions for the Chatsworth Council to rubber stamp is not in the best interests of Chatsworth taxpayers.
It’s too bad that Councillors Greig and Thompson didn’t get to hear discussion on the most important item on the Agenda (Item 5b). I didn’t either, because it was inexplicably deferred … but I’m getting ahead of myself.
At Agenda Item #4, the representative of BDO made what I would refer to as a “high level” presentation of the Audit Report. There wasn’t much in the way of questions or discussion during or after the presentation. The covering letter dated March 27, 2015 (that was signed on or before March 25, 2015 because that is the date that the signed letter was posted on the Georgian Bluffs website) pointed out that the 2014 budget wasn’t approved until February 27, 2015 and therefore could not have been useful for guidance and operating oversight during the year. The letter also made mention of the the problems with metering of sewage/septage volumes, a problem that has been discussed at previous meetings.
After the presentation of the draft Audit Report, Georgian Bluffs Mayor Barfoot said that Agenda Item #8 would be dealt with next. Here is what was printed on the Agenda:
8. In Camera Session:
1.) The security of the property of the municipality or local board.
Motion: (move and second)
That the Joint Board proceeds into a closed session to discuss matters regarding the security of the property of the municipality or local board and the following people to remain in attendance: Township of Georgian Bluffs, Acting CAO Holly Morrison and Township of Chatsworth, CAO/Clerk Will Moore.
The motion that was actually passed and signed was different from this in that it also included being In Camera on account of “an identifiable individual.” This is important because the Municipal Act is very specific about the reasons for which meetings may be held out of the public eye. Three Georgian Bluffs staff members in addition to the Acting CAO of Georgian Bluffs were also named in the actual motion and therefore were permitted to attend the In Camera session.
Even though it was unusual to skip ahead in the Agenda at one of these meetings, I didn’t pay much attention; the question “What on earth is going on?” only arose in my mind after everybody returned from the in camera session and the meeting resumed.
After everybody returned, Agenda Item #5a was accepted with little discussion. Next was Agenda Item #5b which was to discuss the budget that the Chatsworth Council had sent back to Georgian Bluffs with the subsidies to the Sunset Strip removed. Finally, after operation for more than 4 years and costs to Chatsworth taxpayers (by my reckoning) of more than a third of a million dollars, this incomprehensible and indefensible transfer of money from Chatsworth to Georgian Bluffs was going to be dealt with in the open!
But then, in the blink of an eye, Agenda Item #5b was off the table – deferred! Unbelievable!
The rest of the meeting was perfunctory with one notable exception. In response to my question about septage/sewage volumes for 2014 (total volume from the Sunset Strip, total volume from residential septic tanks in each of the two townships, and total volume from other sources), Acting Georgian Bluffs CAO/Clerk Morrison said that a decision had been made to no longer report on volumes because of difficulties with the metering at the Bio-Digester. In essence, she said that the meters on the trucks are taken as being correct and are used for purposes of calculating charges. Every fee in the schedule of charges for dumping at the bio-digester is on a per cubic metre basis, and since revenues from tipping fees are reported to the last cent, obviously some assumptions have to be made about volumes. But then, the assumed volume figures are discarded because nobody seems to think they are of any importance.
What this boils down to is that the taxpayers of Chatsworth and Georgian Bluffs are the proud owners of what is probably the only sewage treatment facility in the entire world that doesn’t keep track of volumes treated. Management elsewhere would normally use information such as the average cost per cubic metre as a key measure of operating efficiency and effectiveness. The expected cost to treat each cubic metre of waste is a key design consideration; anyone wanting to build any sort of waste treatment facility needs to know the “break-even” cost, or the amount that would have to be charged per cubic metre in order to cover costs. Similarly, the cost per cubic metre is one of the key ways to compare costs of one station to another, or one method of operation to another, or one design to another. But for the Chatsworth – Georgian Bluffs Bio-Digester, volumes are irrelevant. Again, absolutely unbelievable!
The next meeting was scheduled for Monday, April 13. It will be entirely In Camera.
April 2, 2015