Recently, there was a rare occurrence during a meeting of city council.
The Farbridge administration has enjoyed a majority of councillors supporting the agenda of the mayor and, senior civil servants.
This meeting was attended by a group of condominium owners asking for compensation because their owner’s association water bill had jumped from an average of $1,600 per billing period to $25,000 from April 21 to May 17.
The manager of the city water works said the meter tested accurately and offered no explanation as to why the condo water bill zoomed to such proportions. To use that much water, it was estimated every tap and toilet in the condominium would have to run constantly for six months.
It was acknowledged that there was no similar surge at the wastewater facility.
So, where did the water go?
Now this gets interesting. Coun. Bob Bell made a motion to compensate the condo association. By the way, the association paid the $25,000 bill by levying a special assessment on every owner.
The Farbridge gang of eight would normally defeat this motion swiftly. But this was not a normal situation. Coun. Gloria Kovach was not present for the vote leaving six councillors supporting Coun. Bell’s motion and six councillors voted against.
The six against were all members of the Farbridge gang of eight. But there was a defection. Coun. Maggie Laidlaw, normally a member of the council majority, supported the condo owner’s plea for compensation.
Because of the tie, the mayor cast the seventh vote against supporting the Bob Bell motion.
She opted to throw the question back to the waterworks department staff. That was the same bunch that was either unwilling or unable to solve what was a serious usage and billing problem.
Any dolt with half a brain could understand that something was terribly wrong.
Then another property owner surfaced saying he was hit with a $6,000 water bill in his duplex rented out to four students. He has not paid the bill saying his normal monthly usage is 40 cubic meters or $140.
Last August, residents of an 85-unit townhouse complex on Scottsdale Drive, received a water bill for $24,000 when a typical two-month billing would be $8,000.
Residents are paying it off in installments ending in May.
Do you think those folks are going to vote for Mayor Farbridge and her gang?
The Mayor’s deciding vote was a defining moment in her stewardship as head of civic government.
She may sit in her office and wonder why the taxpayers are resentful and have lost respect for her management. The steady erosion of confidence in the Mayor and her cohorts on council is growing in all areas of the city.
And respect and confidence are earned and hard to replace when lost.
There was a swift and simple solution to the excessive water-billing problem.
All council had to do was instruct the water department to suspend excessive water bills. Then reinstall meters at the sites where excessive water use had been reported. Monitor usage over a two-month period to ensure accuracy. Next, review and report to council the billing processes for water use and wastewater disposal.
Instead, the Mayor said that the staff was working on a compensation program that was larded with foggy language such as “considering, recommendation and proposed.”
As the elderly lady said in the Wendy’s commercial: “Where’s the Beef?”
Has the Mayor allowed unlimited power to go to her head? Has she become so immune to serious needs of her constituents?
The Mayor should remember to dance with the people who brought her to the party.