The “Shoes” of Truth

ShoesTruthCollageAs I reflect on the final week of the 2014 Election Campaign I am reminded of a famous saying by Mark Twain:

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.”

Why do I say that? Because there were claims and assertions about my record of service that were used as campaign fodder last week.

I am thankful to have received an email on Friday from a resident seeking greater clarity about three specific assertions.

She prefaced her questions with an astute statement: “I realize that just because someone writes something, it isn’t necessarily true.”

The following is from the response that I provided to her:

Isaac Riehl Skatepark & Centennial Park Baseball Diamond:
The following are the costs for the skateboard park:

Total Cost: $458,055
Aviva Grant & Community Donations: $158,573
Net Cost (Total Cost Less Grant & Donations): $299,483

In addition to more than one-third of the Skatepark being donated by the community, the Net Cost was paid from “Development Charges.” Essentially, new development to the Town over the years (and not existing residents) paid for the new park.

The improvements to the baseball diamond were always planned for 2014 in our 5-year capital budget plan. Because of the opportunity of the Aviva funding ($115,000), we adapted the plan and moved construction of the baseball diamond ahead one year to 2013. It was an expedited project (not a new cost project).

The baseball diamond budget was $225,000; because of competitive pricing the costs were $190,605.

Architectural Design of Multi-Faceted Community Centre:
Request for Proposal (RFP) bids are treated very differently from Tender bids. Tender bids — like for a bridge or a vehicle — normally get awarded to the lowest price bid. The awarding of RFPs are not based exclusively on final price, but, rather, on total score and get awarded to the firm with the highest score.

The Architectural Design Committee, made up of a cross-section of the public, used the Ontario Association of Architects standard criteria to evaluate each Request For Proposal (RFP) Bid and recommend the award to the firm with the highest overall score.

The standard Ontario Association of Architects scoring criteria used: Company Profile 20%; Design Price 20%; Applied Design Philosophies & Methodologies 35%; Time to Complete 10%; Quality of Submission 15%: TOTAL 100%.

After reviewing and interviewing all four submissions (which took at more than 8 hours!), the volunteer Committee awarded an 89% aggregate score to Petroff Partnership Architects and recommended them to Council for approval.

The $1.05M architectural fee is actually less than the industry’s standard 5% of the facility’s anticipated total construction cost of $22M – $27M.

It is expected to take approximately 6-8 months to complete comprehensive schematic designs and working construction drawings.

Having this shovel-ready design will allow the Town to validate construction costs and to seek Federal and Provincial government investment.

I wrote about this in July with an update in September; please see:

I reported on the Town’s debt in September and again last week:

You will see that we are anticipating reducing our debt significantly when we sell the 7.7 acres of Town lands for $2.9M over coming months.

You asked about the possibility of additional debt from our 2014 Capital Budget.

First, something about municipal debt:
We use debt to help fund large projects and use it as a tool. As previous debt retires, we sometimes add additional debt in that budget “room.” It’s kind of like how our family funds cars; I bought my car in 2005 and paid roughly $400 per month for 4 years. When it was paid off, we bought a car for my wife in 2009 for roughly $400 per month for five years. Now that that is paid off, we are thinking of the right time for another car to replace my 2005 vehicle and use that $400 payment “room.” It works the same for Towns. We paid the last installment of the 10-year debenture for the 2003 Canboro Road reconstruction this year; it’s ~$250K per year “debt room” will be taken up by other debt payments.

Second, we do anticipate adding $1.6M of debt for Downtown Fenwick’s 2014 revitalization in 2015 (not 2014); this ~$192K payment per year for 10 years will take the “debt room” from the previous Canboro Road debt.

As I outlined above, $1.6M will be added in 2015 and I am left to presume that the remaining $5.4M that is being referred to elsewhere might be a misrepresentation of how we notionally earmarked funds in our 2014 Capital Budget to build connecting streets in the East Fonthill development… but I am not sure.

If it is that, during our 2014 budget deliberations in November 2013, we anticipated that we would need to identify interconnecting roads to the East Fonthill development. We anticipate now that many of those roads can be funded by area-specific Development Charges and not by debt. And, since we are still working on the detailed design of the infrastructure, we have yet to finalize expected road construction costs.

Other Issues:
I continue to keep the community updated in my weekly column; I have also written special columns during the campaign. Please see the following with the facts on other issues:

Clearing the Recreational Log Jam:

Creative Problem Solving: Innovate to Stagnate

Protecting Privacy: Why the Need to Protect Privacy?

Success on Town-Owned Lands: Making Lemonade

The Facts:
These are the facts and the complete picture.
Thanks, again, for asking for clarity. Please call me or email me if you have any other questions.
Final Word:
Claims and assertions can be damaging to a community. They can lead to distrust, to a politicization of community issues and challenges, and to inhibiting the development of solutions and action.

People have told me that want a leader who is open, accessible, and listens as well as communicates. They want a leader who uses facts, explains the complete picture, and gets them involved in the process.

Pelham needs a leader with a positive attitude, a leader who builds the community up and makes it better. We deserve a leader who proactively works together with all parts of the community and brings the community together. We need a leader who is fiscally responsible, yet at the same time, who gets things done.

Over the last eight years serving as your Mayor, I have demonstrated these leadership qualities.

During this municipal election campaign, I am asking for your support to continue my service as Mayor and working together with Council and the community to move our Town forward.