THE STOCKWELL REPORT
The highlight of the final Wasaga Beach Council meeting of 2016 was the passing of the 2017 Operating and Capital Budgets.
The total budget was $48.3 million, made up of $36.6 million in operating expenses and $11.7 million in capital expenses, compared to an overall budget of $49.8 million in 2016.
As usual, the Monday Morning Quarterbacks on Social Media were critical of the efforts of Council, constantly pointing out how well the past Council handled the financing of the municipality, compared to what is happening now.
This point was hammered home by Morley Bercovitch, a member of the previous council, who served for one term before deciding not to seek re-election. He stated that before the present council was elected, Wasaga Beach was a leader within Simcoe County, however, now Wasaga Beach is a laughing stock.
Since being elected two years ago I have made a point of not being critical of previous councils. In fact, I have stated publicly that I thought that the outgoing council, under Mayor Cal Patterson, did a good job handling municipal finances. However, such an outrageous statement made by a member of Mayor Patterson`s council deserves an answer.
During the last quarter of 2016, Council tabled a corporate efficiency review, carried out by KPMG Chartered Accountants.
In the Executive Summary of their report, KPMG states the following, “The Town enjoys a strong financial position. Based on its most recent financial results, we consider the Town to be in a strong financial position, with meaningful financial surpluses that are funded through financial, as opposed to non-financial Town assets. While the Town has taken on debt in connection with the acquisition of beachfront properties, we do not consider this to pose a significant challenge to its financial situation.”
Now, in fairness, this statement can be, and should be, shared with both the Patterson and Smith Councils.
Where the two councils are different, is how they handled senior level of government`s financial grants, when it came to the drafting of annual budgets.
The Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (O.M.P.F.) is the Province`s main transfer payment to municipalities. The following was taken from a report by the Wasaga Beach Treasurer to Council, dated November 2016, pertaining to this fund;
The above chart tracks the O.M.P.F. Grant from 2011 to 2021, showing how the council, under Mayor Patterson, dealt with these grants from 2011 to 2014, and how the present council, under Mayor Smith, dealt with these funds from 2015 to 2017, as well as projecting 2018 to 2021.
Clearly, the Patterson Council used half of these funds to decrease the impact of a tax increase brought about by the amount of spending during their four year term, while the Smith Council spent the majority of their three year grants to build the municipal reserves.
This, together with the fact that the previous council sat back and did nothing to stop the decline of the Beach One area, should be enough to stifle any criticism they may have as to how the Smith Council is moving Wasaga Beach forward.
As we enter the second half of council`s four year term of office, it is time for some “push back” against those Monday Morning Quarterbacks who just don`t get it.
The next election will decide how the “quiet majority” deals with this issue.