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Editorial: Openness and transparency ultimately lies in council’s hands

['Editorial']
['Editorial']

Mark Felix, the newest chair of the Stephenville town council’s finance committee, made an interesting presentation at the monthly general meeting of the Bay St. George last Tuesday.

An admittedly “wet behind the ears” chair admitted that he was in a learning curb about all things financial when it comes to the operations of a town.

With the former Mayor Tom O’Brien in the room he was quick to point out that Stephenville is in good shape financially with the town due to be debt free by March 31 of 2019, due in large part to efforts by former town councils.

But he was just as quick to point out potential funding reductions: such as increases in dump fees; employees’ collective agreement fees; energy cost increases; fuel, insurance, parts and maintenance; and revised potential funding.

None of these come as a surprise as the increase in tipping fees for waste materials have been talked about for years, employees’ collective agreement fees take place on a regular basis; energy costs related to the Muskrat Falls project have been talked about for years and the rest of the prices talked about are continually rising.

Sadly those are all facts of life and something that not only a town, but most every person has to deal with from year to year as it affects them.

While it’s nice to see it all printed out on paper and people being told they have the opportunity though a survey to be part of the process and give their opinion, the question still remains whether or not their opinion will make a difference.

Some people really like the fact that council is being “open and transparent” through this process and involving the residents of the community that want to get involved and have their say.

When Felix was giving his presentation to the chamber some 194 people had already completed the survey on the budget consultations out of a goal of 500 to 600 people representing about 30 per cent of what they had hoped for.

Are the consultations and survey a great idea? Well, that’s yet to be seen.

This data is all collected by council and what part of it will be made public is up to them. That’s where the “openness and transparency will lay.”

Will there be glaring thoughts on certain items laid out in questions posed in the survey? It’s only as good as what council will release to the public.

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