Posted January 5, 2014
The following is a recent report printed in the North Bay Nugget that has been slightly edited. The work of the North Bay Taxpayers Association (NBTA) closely follows what GrassRoots Guelph is undertaking in this election year. It would appear that the same issues surface in the similar sized communities. When comparing cost over-runs between the two municipalities, The Guelph administration rises far above the madding crowd with its record of management boo-boos, litigation costs and willful spending of taxpayer’s dollars. Not an enviable record, you say?
In this case, the NBTA was chosen as newsmaker of the year. Congratulations!
The North Bay Taxpayers Association earned both acclaim and criticism throughout 2013 with its dogged pursuit of city spending and frequently unwanted advice to council. The group’s relentless battle with city hall made it the favourite for the title of 2013 Newsmaker of the Year among our editors and reporters, online readers, Facebook friends and Twitter followers.
The taxpayers’ association was formed in November of 2012 and still in its infancy while making headlines this year. Its persistent cries for lower taxes and demands for city politicians to take charge of the public purse, made it the people’s choice.
Selected as top newsmaker over others, the association topped Vic Fedeli, MPP, PC Energy and Finance critic; Mayor Al McDonald, and former deputy mayor Sean Lawlor.
In 2013, the taxpayers’ group raised concerns about a wide range of issues including public-sector wages, city debt, accountability and transparency at city hall, hydro rates, the lease agreement with the Battalion hockey team and most recently overspending on the arena renovations.
NBTA’s message hit home for some tax-weary residents, fed up with rising costs and angered by the spending decisions of elected officials at all three levels of government. For some, the association has been criticized as a misinformed minority group that’s both confrontational and brash.
A development for the group, as well as those at city hall, came last month with Lawlor’s sudden resignation from council.
His departure paves the way for association president Mark King to fill the vacancy as the municipal council candidate next in line according to votes garnered during the last election. King is expected to be offered the seat and sworn in next month.
The association will no doubt continue to hammer away in the New Year at issues related to city finances. Particularly focused on the $3.6 million in cost overruns at Memorial Gardens and an audit that’s soon to be completed.
It will interesting to experience the dynamic between city politicians and the association when one its own is at the council table.