Municipal boondoggle

Why should a group, whose members pay their fees out of public funds, and whose conference fees are also paid out of taxpayer money, ask for additional money from the hosting Municipality or Province to contribute to the expense of their junket conference?  That is what we see reported in this article in Saturday’s Chronicly Horrid.

City hall is asking the Dexter government to help pay for next year’s Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Halifax.

The city is seeking $50,000 from the province for the 2011 event, a municipal staffer said recently. It’s to run June 3 to 6. [2011]

Mayor Peter Kelly said Friday the municipality anticipates spending between $350,000 and $450,000 for the national convention.

What other group has a host municipality help pay for its Conference? When the Baptists have their Conference in Wolfville do they ask the Town to contribute? Why doesn’t the Federation, and its members, pay for their own Conference, especially since their funds already come from the public purse?

In May, the city sent about 17 councillors and staff to Toronto for the federation’s annual conference. Staff said at that time the municipality’s participation at the meetings would cost about $20,000.

But city hall spokeswoman Shaune MacKinlay acknowledged the bill from Toronto was actually higher.

For instance, a catered reception Halifax Regional Municipality hosted there cost about $12,000, she said. Also, Kelly’s personal travel expenses ($1,246) were not included in the original total. … Halifax city hall’s involvement in last year’s FCM conference, in the B.C. resort town of Whistler, cost taxpayers more than $21,000. The last time Halifax hosted the conference was in 1999, MacKinlay said. She said the province gave the municipality $50,000 for that event.

Do you hear a loud sucking sound? What do Canadian taxpayers gain from this outlay from our various tax pockets?

According to minutes from an advisory committee meeting earlier this year, delegates could be offered “study tours” of municipal facilities, locally produced food, musical performances from area artists and souvenir door prizes to take home.

Halifax officials could “showcase the new (Metro) Transit garage at Ragged Lake,” the minutes say.

Plans are in the works for a lobster dinner here during a Sunday night banquet at the conference, said MacKinlay. Part of next year’s conference includes a proposed “farewell breakfast” at a venue in south-end Halifax.

It could be a musical goodbye, with delegates eating up some local culture as well as their morning meal.

“For the farewell breakfast, Coun. (Reg) Rankin suggested the world-renowned Men of the Deeps as they are emblematic of Nova Scotia, or the Nova Scotia Mass Choir,” the minutes from a committee meeting in April said. “Coun. (Lorelei) Nicoll suggested the Rankin Family also be considered.

The real question is this: WHY DO WE PUT UP WITH THIS? WHY DON’T TAXPAYERS SCREAM BLUE MURDER?

If we had a choice (which we DON’T) we would NOT be paying for the Councilors or the CAO of our small town to be members of this organization.

And HRM shouldn’t be asking for a handout so that the FCM can spend beyond their means. Say no Mr. Dexter. It is time everyone started to pay their own way INCLUDING the FCM.

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