Guest Editorial: Sturgeon County Div. 5 candidate Wayne Bullock

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Submitted by Wayne Bullock

Why am I running for Council?

Some people might say that I am just a disgruntled former employee of the County. Nothing could be further from the truth.

My twelve years at the County were some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. However after reaching my 66th birthday and being in the workplace for 50 years I had decided that it was time to move on and relax a bit from the daily commitment. Just before making my final decision and announcement to retire I was made aware that the decision was made for me by some members of Council and without the input of all members. Even though I did not want to leave on those terms the financial incentives were so attractive that it was easy for me to agree. Also I had a succession plan in place for the continuity of services in the Infrastructure department and I believe that the transition went smoothly.

During my twelve years at the County and for the past year during my retirement I have attended most Council meetings. The past three years has identified a disturbing trend in the operation of the County by a majority of the current Council. Many of the decisions are apparently made prior to the debate in public session. I experienced this first hand and some of the councillors who were not in the inner circle were aware and frustrated by the process. Case in point – my departure.

As administrators we were duty bound and responsible to provide as much information as possible for Council to make informed decisions. This included as many alternative recommendations with accompanying backup as was reasonable for each situation. However it was found that if some of the alternatives did not find favour with certain members of Council they did not receive it in a positive manner. It became apparent that if any information that was provided that was critical or did not support certain views it should not be provided.

Now as a member of one of the most experienced senior management teams ( three C.L.G.M.s one Athabasca University grad and one communication degree ) unequal in any jurisdiction of similar size in Alberta we were duty bound to provide as much information as possible. It was always our goal that the decisions made by Council were made based on all the evidence and facts relevant to the issue at hand. As time went on after the last election it became apparent that this was not how the new Councillors and Mayor wanted to proceed and as a result of this and some other factors the entire senior management team was replaced at a cost to the taxpayer of over $1 million. And this is only the direct cost. Human resource professionals estimate that an additional two to three times the direct cost can be attributed to staff replacement due to recruitment, training, lack of continuity and an inefficient level of service. This would put the overall cost beyond three million dollars. That is a 13 per cent increase in your taxes. Just think what could have been accomplished with that amount of money. This systemic problem is a deep rooted one and is directly caused by the direction of a majority of the current council. The subsequent lowering of morale leads to an administration that is unsure of who is next and what to do next. This creates a highly inefficient level of service to the detriment of the county residents.

There are numerous other serious concerns that I have including;

  • In camera meetings disguised as working lunches
  • Using reserve funds to finance operations
  • Outsourcing communication services while having three qualified staff
  • Funding infrastructure projects that benefit developers
  • Some councillors flying first class
  • Charging alcoholic beverages to the tax payer
  • Delaying capital purchases to artificially keep taxes down
  • Increased spending with debenture borrowing ($12,000,000.00 in three years—more than the last fifteen years )
  • Over two million dollars in lost grants

Another concern of a local nature is the broken promise to restore oil dust control in front of some county homes. The dust control was removed as a result of road construction and the promise made to the adjacent home owners to replace the oil dust control was reneged on. The current councillor for division 5 not only supported the motion to reject the request for replacement he actually made the motion to reject the request.

– Wayne Bullock

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