Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Letter to the Editor, Morning Star.

This letter is printed with the permission of the author.

Dear Editor,

It is with great interest that I read Richard Rolke’s article covering the dispute between Vernon’s mayor Wayne Lippert and Coldstream’s mayor Jim Garlick. It's interesting to me that Richard Rolke attends most GVS meetings and has witnessed first-hand the complete lack of respect that Wayne Lippert shows other board members. So why does Richard Rolke choose to slant an article portraying Mayor Lippert as being the level-headed misunderstood victim. I have witnessed Mayor Lippert’s lack of professionalism first hand and I am amazed that his fellow board members don’t walk out of the meetings. I have attended about a dozen GVS meetings this year. Some of them key meetings, others just your day-to-day meetings. Based on the very few attendees present during these, I think I can safely say 99% of the people governed by the GVS have never been to a meeting. The issue of why GVS does not work for Coldstream is simple and everyone involved understands the problem.

Simply put, four jurisdictions agreed to pool resources rather than have redundancy. This sounds great but the problem that I can see is Coldstream pays about 20% of the GVS budget. The GVS board then approves the budget. GVS then has administration costs which come off the top of the budget. Then GVS staff hires Vernon Park's Staff to do work. Then The City of Vernon has administration costs managing the work. Then Vernon Parks subcontracts out that work to a private contractor who then runs around Coldstream, Lavington and areas doing the work. This is the greatest example of misused government spending at a local level that I have ever seen. What it costs Coldstream taxpayers based on their return is borderline neglect. I would be more upset if Coldstream Council was happy with GVS status. This is insane for our level of government to be run like this.

The next problem is that Coldstream has no ability to change this. They have tried repeatedly to change it however Vernon has voted them down. This is Vernon, the benefactor of the funds from GVS, being able to vote down changes to the structure which would cause them a revenue loss. It is almost a fraudulent practice, GVS hiring one of its members to do work, who then hires a contractor to do the work for less. What happens to the difference? Do those funds just go directly into Vernon coffers? When asked, Vernon does not respond.

Let’s look at this even more. According to the City of Vernon financial records for 2010, the City of Vernon employs 8.1 employees per 1000 residents or 315.7 employees. The City of Vernon claims that 2.1 employees per 1000 people work exclusively for the Regional District (GVS); therefore the actual number is 6.1 employees per 1000 residents or 238.5 employees. It has averaged almost 10% employee growth per year from 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. Even when it was reported that housing starts were down, the City of Vernon increased staff at the Planning and Building office. The City of Vernon is out of control with spending. Why is this important? Let’s look at Coldstream: they have 3.47 employees per 1000 residents. That is almost half the staff. If you use their calculation on staff time with Regional District, then the number drops to 2.75 employees per 1000 residents. Coldstream has staffing levels at 40% of Vernon. That is a huge difference. If you look at Tax increases in the area, Vernon has increased taxes continually, while Coldstream continues to have little increases. If you look at property taxes, Vernon is almost double Coldstream. DOUBLE.

If I were the City of Vernon, I would be thinking amalgamation. It’s the only way they can make those books look better. The city tried to make things look better through 'smoke and mirrors' or “Enron-ing”. On a recent report that I saw, showing the number of employees for the city of Vernon, the staff actually reversed the calendar so at first glance, it looked like staffing levels had dropped since 2006. In my 25 years of business, this is the first time I have ever seen that. If my accountant had tried that, he would be un-employed. Perhaps if Vernon keeps buying land for parking, and waterfront with no plans or approving GVS to spend funds on useless reports then maybe no one will take a really close look at what they are doing. It sure doesn’t look like Richard Rolke will. There are real issues why the relationship between these two areas is broken, and for Coldstream taxpayers I am glad we have a council who see this.

My reason for wanting Coldstream out of the GVS is that we have chosen to partner with a junkie. Vernon is a 'tax junkie' who will do anything to get more taxes. Who will just keep spending and spending. When dealing with addicts, it is best not to be an enabler but to stand back and allow them to deal with their addiction themselves. The City of Vernon is addicted to taxes and the GVS is one source for that addiction. If we stay in GVS, then we could be pulled to the bottom with them. I hope Coldstream pulls out of GVS. I believe we could supply the services at a better rate, with local management and true accountability.

The only thing Wayne Lippert said in the article that rang true was that residents are talking about amalgamation. Coldstream residents are saying NO!

Rob MacKay
Rural living at its best (and balanced)



Anonymous said...

Honest and well stated....and thank god for blogs that will publish this kind of material. I gave up on the local print and radio media years ago for balanced reporting, and you can forget about them doing anything investigative!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Awesome letter!

Coldstream Ratepayers News! All Coldstream residents are ratepayers!

The opinions expressed by "Coldstreamer" are strictly his own and do not represent the opinions of Coldstream Council!

Because I value your thoughtful opinions, I encourage you to add a comment to this discussion. Don't be offended if I edit your comments for clarity or to keep out questionable matters, however, and I may even delete off-topic comments.

Gyula Kiss


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About Me

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I have been a resident of Coldstream since 1976. I have had 15 years of experience on Council, 3 years as Mayor. As a current Councillor I am working to achieve fair water and sewer rates and to ensure that taxpayers get fair treatment. The current direction regarding water supply is unsustainable and I am doing all I can to get the most cost effective water supply possible.