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Rose and O’Brien butt heads on openness and transparency issue

Coun. Tom Rose of the Stephenville town council listens as Mayor Tom O’Brien reacts to a statement on openness and transparency made by Rose.
Coun. Tom Rose of the Stephenville town council listens as Mayor Tom O’Brien reacts to a statement on openness and transparency made by Rose.

Coun. Tom Rose wants the Stephenville town council to make public the revenues and expenses of the Stephenville Industrial Facility.

Rose said at the regular general meeting of council on Thursday that any time council makes a move outside putting money toward regular services and spends taxpayers’ money toward economic development, there is a need for openness and transparency.

Rose said this is a major facility for marketing that council has invested millions of dollars in, and it’s not just direct benefits to the town.

“I’d like to see something prepared and available at the next meeting,” he said.

Rose recognized that since upgrades have been completed on the facility it has been leased, but said taxpayers’ money was still put into it, and it’s outside council’s core responsibility.

Mayor Tom O’Brien took a little bit of offence to Rose’s words, saying it seemed he was suggesting council has not been open and transparent about the facility.

However, O’Brien said, any time council gets away from core services it can only do so with the permission of the minister of Municipal Affairs, which it has done in this instance.

O’Brien reminded Rose that the town didn’t go it alone on this building, as more than $2 million was put into upgrades on it by the provincial government and another $2 million-plus by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, which has been well documented in the media.

“It’s a benefit to the whole region to have that building,” he said.

O’Brien said at the peak, when Pennecon was operating out of the building, there were 170 people working as a result, with jobs for people in the entire region.

He said there have been reports in The Western Star on the money spent and he is all for doing a recap.

“In relation to openness and transparency, it’s been there all the way through,” O’Brien said.

Deputy Mayor Mike Tobin said amongst the large towns in this province there has been a great emphasis put on economic development and that leveraging money is important, with a lot of money leveraged for that building, which is now in top condition.

Rose said at the regular general meeting of council on Thursday that any time council makes a move outside putting money toward regular services and spends taxpayers’ money toward economic development, there is a need for openness and transparency.

Rose said this is a major facility for marketing that council has invested millions of dollars in, and it’s not just direct benefits to the town.

“I’d like to see something prepared and available at the next meeting,” he said.

Rose recognized that since upgrades have been completed on the facility it has been leased, but said taxpayers’ money was still put into it, and it’s outside council’s core responsibility.

Mayor Tom O’Brien took a little bit of offence to Rose’s words, saying it seemed he was suggesting council has not been open and transparent about the facility.

However, O’Brien said, any time council gets away from core services it can only do so with the permission of the minister of Municipal Affairs, which it has done in this instance.

O’Brien reminded Rose that the town didn’t go it alone on this building, as more than $2 million was put into upgrades on it by the provincial government and another $2 million-plus by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, which has been well documented in the media.

“It’s a benefit to the whole region to have that building,” he said.

O’Brien said at the peak, when Pennecon was operating out of the building, there were 170 people working as a result, with jobs for people in the entire region.

He said there have been reports in The Western Star on the money spent and he is all for doing a recap.

“In relation to openness and transparency, it’s been there all the way through,” O’Brien said.

Deputy Mayor Mike Tobin said amongst the large towns in this province there has been a great emphasis put on economic development and that leveraging money is important, with a lot of money leveraged for that building, which is now in top condition.

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