Comment on Mayor’s article on finances

Councillor Alex Gillis

The mayor stated rather graciously in his article that “First-time candidates — and reruns trying to make a mark—always make alarmist statements about municipal finances. I did in 2010. I wasn’t lying—I just had my facts wrong. That is okay. It is an honest mistake.”  I must say that it was very responsible for him to state that his facts had been wrong; I did say at the time that ” he preferred a good story to the facts”. Similarly, I came away from the final all candidates meeting thinking that some of the candidates were telling good stories that needed to be challenged by facts which is what the Mayor has done in a very accurate and telling article.

Í would like to add a few additional facts:

  • The new mayor will have just one vote just like the deputy mayor and each councillor; four votes are needed for approval of motions and bylaws.; a mayoralty candidate should not promise too much.
  • Mississippi Mills has been in the lead regarding long-term financial planning and asset management and is in good financial condition after building up reserves and taking advantage of significant grants and very low interest rates.
  • Many essential long-term assets have been acquired or improved like the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP), bridges, roads, fire halls and specialist heavy vehicles; also, important building facilities have been enhanced including community centres, libraries, municipal building and Almonte daycare.
  • Conservatively our assets are valued at around $165 million.  With booked debt going, soon, to $22.2 million, that’s roughly 13.4% of the total value of assets.
  • The WWTP debt is estimated to be $7,219,326 and all water and sewage (W&S) debt, including the WWTP, is estimated to be $8,211,149 at the end of 2018; notably,  W&S debt is paid by water bills, while the $14 million remainder of the total $22.2 million debt is covered by taxes.

I think that our problem has not been financial management; rather, it has been inadequate communications, excessive controversy and slowness in completing a comprehensive operational review. I am proud of our long-term financial management and of the Mayor for his accurate and well-timed article.

NOTE: I have provided up to date facts provided by the Treasurer Mississippi Mills; in retrospect, I should have quoted my source. Comments that have been received quoting different figures are either “old or fake news”.  I have tried to provide some facts but it is hard to communicate if the receiver is not listening.