Thursday, December 22, 2011

Big Thanks To Fundraiser Supporters

I would like to say thank you to those who came out to the card game in aid of Blair Tapper and his family last night. It was a tremendous turnout, I think there was 28 tables of 6 people and probably another 15 to 20 or so who didn't play cards. I would also like to thank all the people who didn't come to the card game but helped out in other ways with donations, buying tickets and everything else you have done.

Last night was a great example of how a community can rally together to help out a person in need. Lets us all pray that this next round of treatment sets Blair on the road to recovery and we can take some pride in the fact that we have come together to try and made that journey a little easier on Blair and his family.

PS: I am not sure who won all the prizes but I do know that Darryl Gosse won the Liquor Tree.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The New Budget Is Out And Tax Hikes Are Coming

I guess this answers my question as to whether there would be any public consultations regarding budget expenditures. I noticed that the budget is posted on the town website and tax hikes are coming.

In these times when people are not getting raises at work and jobs are being cut left right and center our council is increasing spending across the board. I guess this is why they don't hold public consultation process, so they can ram this stuff down our throats without so much as a whimper.

The budget document that the town puts on the website is a joke when it comes to actually showing people where our money is going. It is a pathetic 7 page document including cover pages and charts that is basically an overview. Typically this is what the town post on the site and I am hoping they post the entire budget document so we can see where all the money is going. Anyway here is a brief summary of how they are intending on increasing spending and taxes.

Public Works Department - 20% increase in spending
Planning and Development - 19% increase in spending
Economic Development - 33% increase in spending
Recreation - 22% increase in spending
Heritage and 2012 Commemorations - 57% increase in spending
Torbay Fire Department - 1.7% increase in spending
Administration - 2.5% increase in spending

Now with all these increases in spending they are going to smack us with a 0.75 increase in the mill rate. As if we are not paying enough all ready for the services we receive. Despite this something seems weird to me with the numbers. I am sure they all add up but I don't know how.

Our overall budget only went up $109,011.17
Despite that and the fact that we had a budget surplus last year that is getting applied to this year we are still looking for $390,104.38 extra revenues to have a balanced budget, that is where the tax increase comes in.

I don't mind paying taxes but don't jack up my taxes so that you can increase spending like drunken sailors. So basically there has not been a peep from one councilor about the fact that we have a big tax hike coming. Why is that? Someone over in that chamber must be uneasy about raising taxes while increasing spending.

Hopefully the entire budget document will be made available soon so we can pick through it and see exactly where all these increases are being spent. Are we increasing taxes on homeowners so that we can come up with money to throw big concerts and celebrate our town? Well I don't think that getting a big tax increase is something worth celebrating.

Basically for every 100,000 assessed value on your home you are going to be paying an extra $75 dollars in property taxes so judge for your self if you think this is a good idea or not.

Design Update

Made a few changes to the design of my blog. Any feedback you can give me would be nice. For that person who has nothing better to post than calling me a meat head don't bother LOL

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Torbay Yearly Budget

I have been reading in the council minutes that the yearly budget meetings are under way and I was wondering what is going on with them. I have heard significant mention of the fact that the City of St John's has budget consultations under way and wondered if there was a similar thing in Torbay. I have also lived in other jurisdictions where they do exactly the same thing.
I sent an email to the Town Council and the Town CAO to ask just that question. I would imagine that it would be a good thing for residents to be involved in the budget process so that we can have a say in what our priorities are and where we think money should be spent.

Maybe some residents feel that we need to install sidewalks along certain roads in our community and that would be the place to put the argument forward. Other resident might not want to spend an outrageous amount of money to hire a band like Great Big Sea to play for our town celebrations next year.

It would occur to me that if very few people go to council meetings, and information only trickles out of the town with regards to what is going on, and then a budget consultation process would be the best way for Council to set priorities according to what the residents feel they should be right now.

Lets face it some people cast their vote every four years in the municipal election then never give a second thought to how the town is run until the nest election. People need to get more involved and have a greater say in how we prioritize in our town and give council direction on how we want to proceed instead of council directing us.

Most times in our town by the time the general public find out what is going on the decisions have already been made. Council meeting minutes that are published to the town website are at least 2 weeks behind because they need to be approved at the next council meeting before being posted, as I understand it. From my experience they are usually around a month behind but I have to give them credit because when I first started reviewing the minutes on line they were several month behind so they have certainly improved in that area. For instance the most recent meeting minutes on the town website today are from Nov 14th, considering  that there was a meeting on Nov 28th those minutes were approved at the Dec 12th meeting I see no reason why they haven't already been posted. In fact I think they should be posted the day after the meeting with a disclaimer that they are not the FINAL approved minutes but that is just me.

The other source of information that reports on council is the North East Avalon Times or the Portugal Cove Paper as I like to affectionately call it is only published monthly. This means that by the time you get that paper in your hand you are reading about events that have already taken place and possibly decided. Possibly the greatest source of information we have at our disposal is word of mouth. When someone hears about something going on in the town that they thing people should know about they should tell their friends and spread the word. For instance I get updates from the TETC about what is going on with the Gosse's Pond development. I have been meaning to write an update on that but have not been able to do so as of yet. Despite my falling behind on that issue they are still providing me and many other people with the pertinent information with regards to what is going on and to a lot of other people too.

This type of information sharing is what we need to do in our town to ensure we develop with the interest of the residents in mind. It is difficult for anyone especially council to know what our priorities are if we don't tell them.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Card Game Fundraiser For Blair Tapper

There is going to be a card game fundraiser for Blair Tapper on Wednesday, December 21, 2011. Blair is my brother in law and he has been battling cancer for the last year. He is self employed and the wear and tear and necessity to rest have seriously hindered his ability to work and earn a living. Blair just finished a complete round of chemotherapy and now he just found out he will need to have a second round of treatment.

There is a facebook event set up and it would be greatly appreciated if you would consider going or if you can't go a donation would be great.

At this time of year it really hurts to see a family have to go through something like this, especially when they are so young and have young children. Hopefully many people will answer the call to help.

The Card Game will be held at the Holy Trinity High School, Wednesday December 21, 2011

If you would like to get more information you can contact Bud Tapper at 437-5998 or 691-6328.
Donations will be greatly appreciated.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Santa Clause Parade A Great Time

I haven't had time to get this post done past the heading but I wanted to say that the parade was great and the kids loved it. If I have only one complaint it would be that there were no garbage containers to put the Tim Horton's cups in that were left over from the free hot chocolate.

This was even more evident when I looked into our town sign and saw all the garbage piling up in there. To make matters worse it was still piled up there when I drove by at 12:00 Sunday. Well at least the kids had a good time and that is what these events are all about after all.