Acadia admin should note

Acadia U please note: Have a policy in place before this happens.

Fanshawe riots

 

 

 

A letter on the Property Valuation Services Corp

This letter in the Chronicle Herald this morning is worth noting. Since it may eventually disappear from the Voice of the People” we copy it here in full to preserve it for ratepayers future reference.

Not-so-minor details

In a Feb. 25 opinion piece, Kathy Gillis, CEO of PVSC (Property Valuation Services Corporation), says, “All property owners are assigned a PIN number for their assessment account and by using the PIN, details of their accounts are readily accessible.”

In fact, the information is limited and what is provided is not helpful in an appeal. One page of the online report is a map of the property, a second page deals only with the CAP program, and one-half of the third page is devoted to the address. None of this is useful. The remainder is sketchy, at best.

My own for 2011 and 2012 had significant differences. The construction went from “average” to “good,” the area from 2,060 sq. ft. to 2,017 sq. ft., and the garage that was detached in February 2011 became attached in February 2012. No work was done on the house since 2008 so it must have been magic.

The PRC report, on the other hand, is usually six or more pages with breakdowns of the assessment and dwelling details such as number of fixtures, heating details and the quality grade.

The important thing that is not available is the comparators report, which Ms. Gillis neglected to discuss. One has to ask for it and may have to wait months to get it. Few know it exists. I had to request mine from PVSC’s freedom of information officer (although I did not have to file a formal request).

[I have left off the letter writers name, although you may see it now at source]

The Assessment Office, which was supposed to be at arm’s length from  municipal government, was never very independent, prone as it was to reassessment requests from various town administrations,  but now with this corporate model ( which they copied from other provinces where it has proved to be a disaster for taxpayers), the municipalities are both clients and overseers of the “service” (Roy Brideau used to be on the Board). Note that the PVSC gets paid partly on the basis of assessment value. That is, the higher the assessments the more they get paid by the municipality. Isn’t that a sweet deal?

One thing is sure, taxpayers are not served well. The formula or information the PVSC uses to come to a figure is a complete mystery and prone to all kinds of adjustments behind closed doors, always to the taxpayers detriment.

Municipal administrations consider assessments to be their “revenue stream” (which they are not and should not be) and they want to keep it flowing at higher and higher amounts.

Please follow the rest of the links from our past posts on this subject (some were already linked specifically in the above text ) – we are tired of repeating ourselves.

Budget meeting

A notice from David Daniels.
IMPORTANT!!
TOWN COUNCIL BUDGET MEETING
6 P.M. MONDAY FEBRUARY 27TH
TOWN HALL
THIS MAY BE THE ONLY SPECIAL MEETING AT WHICH THE PUBLIC WILL HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT UPON AND ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PROPOSED TOWN BUDGET
You should take a look at the draft documents on the Town website. Mr. Daniels has some excerpts from those documents with this notice at the post office.

It’s Teddy time

An appeal from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation:

Dear Supporter:

The CTF’s annual waste recognition event – the Teddy Waste Awards – are approaching and we need your help.

This is the biggest media event of the year that blows the whistle on government waste.  Sunlight is the best disinfectant.  And nothing will change unless we put wastrels in the spotlight and demand better from those charged with managing our tax dollars.
The worst wrongdoers – the most specious spendthrifts at the local, provincial and federal level – are singled out for a Teddy – the golden sow, a handsome gilded symbol of government waste and extravagance of the highest order.

And that’s where we need your help. Have you heard of a local, provincial or national story of government waste that you think deserves to be nominated for a Teddy?

If you have a great nominee please email us at: research@taxpayer.com

Last year we awarded a Teddy to Ontario’s tax collectors, who collected $56 million in severance payments when the province converted from provincial sales tax to the HST, even though none of them lost their jobs.

The year before, we honoured Nova Scotia MLA Len “The Master of Multitasking” Goucher, who charged his taxpayer-funded expense account for 11 computers, 12 printers, 5 digital cameras, 4 video cameras and the Xbox game Dance Dance Revolution over a three-year period.

We can’t make this stuff up! But we do need you to tell us your favourite waste story – help us give Canada’s money-wasters the recognition they deserve!

Our Teddy awards get tons of attention from newspaper, TV, and radio reporters, bloggers, even foreign wire services, so please provide an internet link, or attach a document, with more information on your Teddy nominee. We need credible, public news sources to back up the information in our Teddy nominations.

Thanks for all you do,

–Gregory, Courtenay, Derek and the rest of the CTF team

Do send in your nominations of wastrels from Wolfville or elsewhere in the Valley. We’re sure they wouldn’t mind a donation either.

Dirty fuel

Speaking of dirty fuel –

Germany was forced on Wednesday to draw on its reserves for producing electricity for the second time this winter as Europe is gripped by a severe cold snap.

The country’s four main power operators requested the reserve generator at a coal-powered plant in southern Germany and two plants in Austria be activated, the regional environment ministry in the southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg said.

The power station in Germany, in the southern city of Mannheim, would continue to be used Thursday, a spokesman said.

“We do not have a problem of supply, of quantity, it’s principally a question of stabilizing the network,” a spokeswoman for the Germany electricity market regulator said.

Germany also had to tap its reserves in early December. The system was set up in August to avoid shortages and stabilize the network for the country’s winter power provision. Read more:

“Stabilizing the network” because their wind farms weren’t up to  it and because of anti-nuclear policies. But coal is the answer and we guess oil sands oil is too dirty. Sigh.

Further reading – Do we want this here?

 

Wind farms – a risk to human health

Nova Scotia is besotted with wind power. For those anticipating a wind farm coming to a location near them, here is some information they should be aware of.

A family from southwestern Ontario has launched a $1.5 million lawsuit accusing power company Suncor Energy of inflicting a long list of serious health issues on them by erecting a wind farm next to their home. …

“People knew full well going into this specific project that there were likely going to be problems,” says the Michauds’ lawyer, Eric Gillespie. He says that while the ERT ruled in July that the Kent Breeze project can continue to operate, it also acknowledged testimony from numerous experts called by all sides — wind farm opponents, Ontario’s Environment Ministry, and even Suncor Energy itself — that the project could potentially pose risks to human health. …

Read the rest and the comments!

Here’s a map of present and anticipated locations in the province.

MCN updates

Updates from David Daniels and the MUD Creek News.

POLICE COMMITTEE MINUTES (UPDATE)

In the last issue of the MCN I pointed out that there were “missing” minutes from the Town’s website of the RCMP Advisory Board.  Were the minutes not taken, not posted, or were meetings not held?  

After I made my comment, minutes of the Board  have now been posted.  The Board had been meeting, and minutes taken, but were never posted.  That failure has been remedied.

But as indicated in the article above on the RCMP contract, the Board is required to do annual reports.  There are no Board annual reports as required by Ch. 38 on the Town’s website.  I asked the Chair of the Committee, Councilor Hugh Simpson, about the missing reports.  He replied that he would refer this matter to Board at its next meeting.

Stay tuned.

ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS (UPDATE)

In the last issue of MCN I provided figures concerning the Town’s administrative costs versus Antigonish’s and Kentville’s.  CAO Mombourquette responded in an email to me:  “As expected, the difference between the total ‘Administration’ is due to the categorization of amounts. There are different expenses included in ‘Administration’ in Wolfville, versus Kentville, versus Antigonish. This financial presentation is not dictated by either the Province or the Public Sector Accounting Board (PSAB) and therefore, the Towns are left to decide how to best reflect their organization.”

The figures she provided included the following under the category “Wages and benefits”.  Wolfville: $509,000; Kentville: $525,695; Antigonish: $504,790.  

Unfortunately, the information on the Towns’ websites  does not provide further breakdown on these numbers.  An appropriate apples to apples and oranges to oranges comparison would be possible by having detailed information on administrative staff numbers and their functions.  And of course, numbers cannot  alone provide information on productivity/effectiveness of staff. 

GASPEREAU AVE. APT (UPDATE)

At the invitation of the developers, a meeting was held on Thursday evening, January 12th.  In attendance were about 10 neighbourhood residents, four individuals representing the developer, CAO Mombourquette and Director of Planning Morrison and Councilor Keith Irving.  The latter three did not speak at the meeting.

There was an exchange of ideas.  The neighbours set out their concerns, which focused on density and the design requirements of any new building(s) to be proposed.  The developers promised to return with some rough ideas for a new proposal.

The litigation before the UARB on the first proposal which was rejected by Council 6-0 remains on hold. 

LOUNGE HOURS (UPDATE)

Lounge hours extension and the problems of alcohol consumption in the Town were discussed at the January 12th Council Strategy and Policy meeting.  

Three separate and perhaps related issues were recognized.  (1) amending the Municipal Planning Strategy to permit lounges to serve alcohol beyond 1:00 a.m. for up to six days a year; (2) the disruption to neighbourhoods located in the Town core resulting from too much student drinking; and (3) devising a Community Alcohol Management Strategy.  

The Council decided to move forward as soon as possible with issue (1).  Council will also take steps to address issue (2); perhaps with the formation of a task force to come up with actionable suggestions.  Council reached consensus that issue (3) could not be addressed since it required more resources than the Town had available to it.

David A. Daniels