Letter to the editor 1, Dec. 10, 2015

Dear Editor,

So the petition against the borrowing and spending by the St. Lazare council, of $10 million on a new town hall, did not get the required 500 votes. Therefore with only 483 signed objections in one day, the mayor and councillors have “Approval by Default,” since no taxpayers signed an ‘approval petition’ or seem to have actually voted in favour of borrowing this $10 million.

When citizens elect a mayor and councillors for St. Lazare, those (seven) individuals are assumed to, “manage the affaires of the municipality and remain within a budget.” However it appears that the mayor and councillors can approve expensive municipal projects, albeit of no obvious benefit to the majority of citizens, submit the project, and if less than the 500 objection votes are obtained, the project can go forward with millions of dollars being borrowed without the majority of citizens giving their approval.

I must have missed something in the election platforms of the mayor and councillors, as I do not remember seeing where any of them asked for, or were given the right to borrow millions of dollars, in this case $10 million, on behalf of the citizens of St. Lazare, without a majority approval.

Considering it will be citizens or taxpayers who will have to pay back this loan of $10 million, it would seem logical to have a significant number of taxpayers’ approval, before taking such a loan. The system seems weighted in favour of the town’s administration doing what they think the citizens want, without getting prior approval for expensive projects which require money to be borrowed. Rather than getting 500 signatures of those objecting to high cost projects, surely it would be more open and transparent, as well as more democratic, if the town’s administration were obligated to get a certain number of votes, depending on the cost of a project. i.e. Project cost $1 million would require 500 signed votes in favour. Project cost $5 million would require 1500 signed votes in favour. Project cost $10 million would require 2500 signed votes in favour.

Since last year’s financial statement for St. Lazare showed a surplus of some $2.3 million, imagine if the administration of St. Lazare could run the municipality as effectively and efficiently for the next three years, as it did last year, St. Lazare would be able to pay for the new town hall in cash, rather than burdening the taxpayers of St. Lazare with a 30-year long debt, where interest rated could go ‘sky high.’

Alan Nicol

St. Lazare

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