August 24th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 33
No excuse for ignorance
Rick's Corner
Ezra had a family emergency so I was given the task of covering council last week.

The gallery was packed with people, really upset business people, some of whom saw a 600% increase in their bi-monthly utility rates.

According to one business, his utilities increased from around $450 bi-monthly to well over $900.

Now I am not in agreement with everything council does. I, for one, feel that there are way too many managers in that office compared to the workforce. I can’t understand why, if the Protective Services Manager, leaves we don’t promote the Assistant Manager rather put an interim person in to take over until another manager is hired. Just doesn’t make sense to me but maybe I’m missing part of the story.

What I did witness, however, at the council meeting was the first time council backed down and re-evaluated a decision.

The changes to the utilities by-law basically is a reclassification of business based on usage.
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For example some businesses were re-classified from a level 4 to a level 1, primarly restaurants. There were 79 businesses affected 15 of which were restaurants.

During the public input portion of the meeting, several business owners addressed council. One person was confused about her re-classification to a restaurant considering their business does not even do dishes. Other businesses offered a compromise in the form of water meters so every person in the town can contribute to the utility rates not just the businesses.

After several letters were received by council from upset and justifiably scared business people, Mayor Painter addressed the gallery stating that council had several meetings regarding the change in the bylaw over a period of months.

He explained to the gallery that council advertised regarding the change in the by-law to both the Pass Herald and CJPR. The Pass Herald wrote about the increase after it was discussed at council. There was an open house by the municipality in which the issue was also presented. The change was posted on the town’s Facebook site and the internet.

He further explained that council was shocked at the increases for some businesses and that it was not the intent of council to price businesses out of service.

Mayor Painter noted that council would definitely bring the issue back to the council table and look at some of the ramifications. Brian Gallant, president of the Chamber of Commerce, asked council to suspend the September 15 payment pending further review of council. CAO Steinke, however, explained that the bylaw was a working policy and there was no way to suspend the payments. Council could however, offer a reimbursement to businesses on the next bill due November 15.

One member of the gallery got up and berated council regarding their communication process saying that the public was not informed.

Okay this is where I got annoyed.
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I may not agree with everything council does, but the one thing they do is inform the public through facebook, the internet, open houses, open council meeting and press coverage of meetings.

I got up and spoke and told the individual that it is up to us the public to be informed. If the information is being presented get out and find it.

It’s interesting that this person wanted to help the businesses but failed to support this local business. Get out, get a paper and read about what is happening in your community. We have been informing the public for 86 years and will continue to do so after I am dead a buried.

We can’t claim ignorance when we fail to gather our information.

What was impressive however is how council dealt with the situation. They agreed to re-evaluate the policy and come back with changes and perhaps rebates. To be honest I was kind of impressed, government rarely admit to mistakes, yet alone try to rectify them.

The moral of this story for me is quit being a member of the ignorant masses when something happens don’t complain after the fact. Get out, get informed and for goodness sakes read your local newspaper. We are not a fluffy feel good paper, we are a true member of the press arena, telling you what’s happening in your community. I even offered the fellow, or anyone else in this community a free paper if you come on in.
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August 24th ~ Vol. 85 No. 33
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