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Niagara Falls
Thursday, March 23, 2023
Letter: Taxpayers footing the bill for NOTL water losses

Dear editor:

The Lake Report (Feb. 18) reports that “Town lost $719K in water in 2019” as stated in the Deloitte audit report.

The Deloitte audit report explains that the town buys water from the Region of Niagara and it is then delivered to residential and commercial customers.

Then due to the town staff’s unrecognized water leakage, with a single year’s value of $719,000, the shortfall between what the town pays and what it collects is then passed on to ratepayers via higher water bills you pay via your NOTL Hydro bill.

So now thanks to this council and staff, ratepayers pay higher taxes and higher-than -necessary water bills.

The report then goes on to recommend that the town perform a water leakage survey every five years. The town staff has not performed one in 20 years!

One can then deduce that ratepayers have been overpaying for water for up to 20 years. If the town staff had been doing their jobs, the ratepayers would not be left holding the proverbial “increased taxation/water bill bag.”

But it is always too easy, especially with this council, to not hold staff accountable; it rewards staff management with six-figure salaries and increases taxes to cover their mistakes.

The town’s environmental services supervisor is quoted as saying, “For myself, it was pretty eye-opening some of the detail and numbers to be looked at.” 

Well, isn’t it your job and that of the director of operations to identify and fix problems, and manage those numbers?

Coun. Norm Arsenault is downplaying the financial impact to ratepayers and defending staff by saying “things have a tendency to fall between the cracks.”

Well, Councillor Arsenault, I believe you come from a world where the fallback position is taxpayer funding, but in any other business the six-figure salary-earning staff would have been shown the door and replaced with competent managers who would be full value for their salary.

By the way, $719,000 falls through a chasm not a crack. Your cavalier attitude is poor form.

This town needed a strong kick-ass CEO type to improve the skill set of staff management and control spending, but instead council hired another municipal bureaucrat as CAO who shortly after being hired, opined at the budget review meeting, that the 2021 budget is a “maintenance budget” with the implication that taxes must increase to maintain service levels.

In 2022, let’s bring in new staff and a council that doesn’t come from a world that relies on tax increases to cover its mistakes and poor decisions, and treats taxpayer money with the respect it deserves.

In 2022, let’s elect at least five experienced CEO types that bring private sector experience (of which there is no shortage in NOTL) and with it a joint resolve of purpose to fix our sorry operational and fiscal state.

Joe Accardo

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