Not raiding reserves to cover cost overruns

Barriere Mayor says “ overages at this time in sewer collection portion of wastewater project

It has been a busy week. I attended the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce luncheon and Provincial budget presentation held at the TRU campus. Great information presented by Ministers Lake and Stone around the province’s budget current state of affairs. They even managed to field a few questions around our highways and the health care system. As usual there was a good representation of folks from various groups there. As a result, I had a chance to ask some questions around partnering on a few economic development based projects here in the valley.

Our local Chamber of Commerce held the annual Best Business of the Year Awards and silent auction on the weekend. Minister Lake and his wife Lisa attended to present the award for Best Business of the Year to AG Foods. Chamber President Lana Laskovic and her team did a wonderful job putting on the event. There were a large number of items up for auction, some good food to enjoy and friendly people to spend an evening with. What more can you ask for?

Over the weekend a number of the members of the recently formed Wells Gray and North Thompson-Robson Valley Global Geopark Proposal steering committee were hard at work on an abstract of the proposal to be placed on the program for the 6th International UNESCO Conference on Geoparks to be held in Saint John, New Brunswick on Sept. 19-22, 2014. I would encourage everyone to research these parks to appreciate what great value a project like this would bring to our valley.

I was asked a number of questions on Saturday evening and Sunday. Most were related to perceived cost overages in the sewer project.

I admit I was a bit taken aback by the questions as the sewer collection portion of the wastewater project has basically just started. In most cases the only time you can identify overruns in a project is when a substantial amount of the money has been spent and very little work has been accomplished. To my knowledge there are no overages at this time nor has staff advised council that there will be problems in the future.

I was also asked questions around taking money out of the water and roads reserves. This resident said these funds were taken out and used in an inappropriate manner.

This is definitely not the case, and may be based on someone not having gathered all the facts. A number of times staff have prepared presentations for council and the public, that showed how there could be substantial savings to the District if some already identified public works projects were done at the same time as the wastewater collection work.

Money had been saved for these projects and placed in the reserve accounts, and now was the best time to spend it. Council agreed, and some long standing issues with both roads and water will be addressed along with the digging for the sewer.

This is an example of planning projects together for cost savings. These are planned withdrawals for specific work, not raiding reserve accounts to cover cost overruns.

I understand that there are a number of people in many communities that have declared that they will be running in the local government elections this fall. Some are incumbents and others will be new. It is important for everyone that takes that big leap into public life that they understand what is expected of them.

Being an elected official is not about the title you are given or the office you physically occupy. It is about bringing your unyielding dedication to your community, and sense of purpose to the job at hand.

You must accept it is the position you hold that deserves respect, not you personally, and do your level best to enhance that respect through honesty and hard work. Be aware that your community needs to be heard on all issues, and never assume that what you think is best is the only course of action.

At the end of the day, it is the enrichment and growth of your community and all of its residents that you must work towards, not personal gain or a sense of glory.