Wednesday, February 18, 2009

City Councillor's Travel Budgets

The following letter to the editor has been reprinted from Oshawa This Week with the author's permission

To the Editor,
Oshawa This Week
Feb. 9 Letter to the Editor

In reading the February 6th article with respect to granting further tax payer's money for Oshawa council's travel needs, I think Oshawa tax payers should be outraged not just at increasing travel budgets, but even considering sending City personnel to Whistler, BC for a conference.

Do these councillors not get it? In these difficult times, with layoff notices now counting in the thousands, council should be looking at reducing spending on things such as travel not increasing it.

Councillor Parkes says it is essential to attend these FCM conferences because "'s where they learn best practices and keep up on what is happening in other municipalities." Well, certainly these “best practices” from previously attended conferences does not seem to have benefited Oshawa tax payers as we now have the highest municipal tax rate in Canada. This has occurred due to this Council’s breath taking spending spree over the past number of years on arenas and recreational centers to the tune of $84 million, $10 to 12 million on the new City Hall and of course $250,000 on miniatures which are in City storage with no buyer to be found.

Current debt load for the City is over $105 million with the interest cost alone projected to be over $12 million for 2009. Council has also drained most of their reserve funds and the Oshawa PUC, so nothing for a rainy day which everyone now knows is upon us. We are only weeks away from knowing what are tax increases are going to be for this year, which is going to be a struggle for many Oshawa families.

If Councillor Parkes and her like minded colleagues want to know what is going on in other municipalities that have “best practices” in place, they should pick up a telephone and talk to them about it and not go on a tax payer paid boondoggle.

James Sprague,

Other published Letters to the Editor by Mr. Sprague

Councii has duty to be open with citizens
Council keeps making same mistakes

Site Editor's Comment

The Toronto Star recently published an article listing Poland as a week-long conference destination for some Oshawa politicians. This would allow city politicians of Eastern European Heritage free holidays to their homeland at taxpayer's expense. How long will city taxpayer's tolerate politicians deciding where they want to travel and then fabricating justifications for taxpayers to pick up the tab to get there? All international and out-of-Province Conferences should be barred from public funding. Taxpayers cannot afford to be constantly sending politicians on these junkets. Taxes are high enough without letting politicians holiday and party at our expense.