We’re being taken for a ride, courtesy city hall


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Can you ever have enough pick-up trucks? Forget gas-guzzlers, city hall is making a name for itself as a vehicle-guzzler.

In total, the city operates a fleet of 104 vehicles, including more than two dozen pick-ups, and that fact nearly had Ald. Gord Campbell blowing a gasket during capital budget talks at Monday’s council meeting.

“Obviously we all see (city) pickup trucks. I always see one guy in them . . . but we have crew cabs running around the city that never seem to have anybody in them except the driver.”

What jump-started the vehicle debate was the revelation city administration wants to replace eight vehicles at a cost next year of $425,000.

“Do we really need these vehicles?” questioned Ald. Dave Warden.

He’s not alone in pondering the number of vehicles really needed.Reader Jamie Weisler, who knows a thing or two about cars and trucks, fired the following observations our way.

“I am at a loss as to figure out why we need to replace these vehicles so often,” noted Jamie.

“If we have vehicles that have rusted out, then it would appear that someone in the maintenance department was not doing their job! Would it not make sense to protect our investment in these vehicles by undercoating them?”

Seems a fair enough question.

He continues: “As for the cost of repair, why would the city not shop around for the most cost-effective repair shop in town? I know that there are a number of quality repair facilities in St Thomas that would be more than happy to perform the repairs on these vehicles.”

These are work vehicles, Jaimie points out.

“Lets suck it up and make do. Unless there is a serious safety issue, I see absolutely no reason not to keep a five- or 10-year old vehicle in the fleet. The taxpayers of St Thomas can’t afford brand new vehicles for themselves, so why should we buy new vehicles for our very well-paid employees?”

Where there is be no cause for debate is dealing with the condition of the van used to transport Valleyview Home staff and residents.

If it doesn’t meet Ministry of Transportation standards, then it is a matter of safety and the van in question should top the priority list.

As for some of the high-end pick-ups tooling around the city, now we’re going down an entirely different road.

Some of the vehicles put on hold Monday include a 16-foot utility trailer, two golf carts and a couple more pick-ups.

This coming year, the city needs to do less tire kicking and spend more time crafting a budget-conscious vehicle purchase/replacement policy.

WE’VE ONLY JUST BEGUN

Still with the capital budget, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The real fun begins in the new year when the spotlight will shine on a new police headquarters .

It’s an issue that will deeply divide council and, in particular, force one alderman to undertake some serious soul searching.

A word of advice to the individual in question. Don’t forget who supported you in the October vote.

All involved should keep this in mind: Maintaining the status quo is not an option.

IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE … THE WINTER FESTIVAL SEASON 

A tip of the City Scope eggnog to MP Joe Preston and wife, Geri, for sending out greeting cards this year that actually wish the recipient a Merry Christmas.

It’s a sad commentary on the times when such an action is to be applauded.

I’m sorry, but I’ve reached the limit with politically correct cards (including the horrid electronic versions) from groups and organizations wishing me: A Happy Festive Season; All The Best This Holiday Season; Hope You Enjoy the Winter Festival Season; Merry Xmas; and the warm and fuzzy, Season’s Greetings.

Enough already!

If you’re doing this to avoid offending anyone, it’s not working in this corner.

It’s perfectly acceptable to wish me Merry Christmas.

There, I’ve said it.

I’m with you, Joe.

A CHRISTMAS WISH FOR YOU

And, on that note, as this is the last get together before tomorrow’s celebration of Christmas, we put forth the following gift suggestions for you to distribute as you see fit.

To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.

And, to all faithful City Scope readers, especially those with birthdays at this hectic time of year, when their special day too often is lost in the hustle and bustle of the season — may this Christmas bring you peace, health and happiness.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“I think the time has come that maybe we should be asking staff to tell us why we need $11 million worth of rolling stock.”

Ald. Gord Campbell during Monday’s capital budget deliberations, much of which focussed on the city’s fleet of 104 vehicles.

City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to: mccallum@stthomastimesjournal.com.

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