Who is in the driver’s seat for St. Thomas Energy merger plan?

city_scope_logo-cmykIt’s true the motive behind council’s decision to start looking at potential merger opportunities for St. Thomas Energy is likely the province’s offer to waive the 33 per cent transfer tax on such a transaction.
It’s an attractive incentive.
Too bad the city’s utility may not be such an attractive merger prospect.
Its parent, Ascent Group, just held a fire sale and sold off its Ascent Solutions division to Spark Power of Oakville for an undisclosed amount.
A sum ratepayers will never be privy to because Spark Power is still chuckling at the bargain basement price it paid for Tillsonburg-based Tiltran — acquired by Ascent in 2007 — and Belleville operation Tal Trees — acquired in 2009.
So, there is little left in the Ascent cupboard except St. Thomas Energy and a debt load in excess of $20 million.
Not the most attractive package for tire kickers.


A week ago, city manager Wendell Graves noted, “There is an opportunity for a number of proposals to be received. We’ll have criteria that talks about things such as like-minded philosophies and the importance of community and size.”
Makes it sound like we’re in the driver’s seat on this one.
But with millions in debt, and little if anything on the books in the way of traffic/street light business just how attractive a package is St. Thomas Energy?
And why would a merger partner leave the utility with the car keys based on its driving record of late?
The city would like nothing better than to dump the utility as quickly as possible.
And what’s this we hear of the mayor’s vision for a fibre optic network? A system that would cost tens of millions of dollars to establish. And what bright light does she have in mind to mastermind this undertaking?

Related posts:

Interpreting Ascent deal through our ‘filters’

Sutherland stalling hits ratepayers in the pocket

Ascent sale is finalized, and now ratepayers are waiting for financial disclosure

More comfort needed at Pinafore Park comfort station?

Is Ascent realignment sign of a turnaround at the St. Thomas utility?

A duty upheld on the rarest of occasions

Council waffles on future of cemetery

Over-extended reach ultimately hobbled Ascent

Ascent CEO pulls the plug: resigns as of Sept. 30

From bad to worse over at Ascent

Ascent financial picture a shocker

A return to core business or fire sale at Ascent?

Courthouse-area resident Carrie Smith has emailed us on many occasions to vent her frustration with the lack of enforcement of parking regulations on Queen Street.
Let’s face it, the much tinkered with courthouse area parking plan was a bust from the start and the absence of consistent enforcement demonstrates a lack of will on someone’s behalf at city hall.
“After 3+ years I am at my total wits end with this scenario,” Carrie writes.
“This morning there were 7 vehicles parked without permits for those visiting the courthouse. For the most part we rarely see the parking enforcement officer. Through the grapevine we have heard they may be removing his car and putting his position into part time.”
“I can’t understand why a taxpayer has to attend meetings, fill out questionnaires, request meetings with the mayor, CEO and council members, take photos of those parking who should not be, email license plate pictures, get verbal abuse from the people who should not park here on a regular basis, be inconvenienced by the loudness, garbage on the front yard, people having meltdowns as they are not pleased with court as well as, most important, request that the signage be changed so normal people can understand it as they are confused.
“Also having a disabled son in a wheelchair and not being able to load and unload him due to all of this. This situation has taken over the better part of our lives.
“The mayor, CEO, and council members have made it crystal clear by their ineffectiveness, by their ineptness, and their lack of interest/response to us, the taxpayer. They don’t call back, they don’t come out, they do not reply to emails which have been politely sent to their attention.”
A complaint we’re hearing  on a more frequent basis with other ratepayer matters.

Related posts:

In this case, one option does not fit all

Psst, need a courthouse parking permit?

When will the mayor deliver on her parking promise?

And now this week’s parking plan

Last week we noted two area residents wish to sell various items from the former school of girls to the Alma College International Alumnae Association for upward of $5,000.
We reference this because one of the sellers attended Alma. Now we find out the other individual is the son of an Alma girl who was also a long-time staff member.
Surely these two are not trying to benefit financially off an institution to which they are so closely aligned?

almafrontgatejpgThe association is also attempting to track down one of the missing iron gates that graced the front entrance off Moore Street. Apparently there were only a limited number of people who knew the gate was lying imbedded in the dirt and grass beside the gate post.
The gate in question disappeared not long after an alumnae association member got permission from the Zubick family of London to remove it for safekeeping.
Since it would have taken some effort to remove this heavy item, it is likely several people were involved.
Got info on its whereabouts? We’re all ears.

Related posts:

City’s negotiations on Valleyview labour deal deemed ‘bizarre’ and ‘ludicrous’

For the Professor, latest accessibility report would just be more of the same

A little good news on the Alma College front

More comfort needed at Pinafore Park comfort station?



There are no party lines that divide us in the pursuit of the best for our communities. There are no party policies that divide us on these issues.”

Premier Kathleen Wynne speaking at the ceremonial opening of Salt Creek Market.

City Scope appears Saturday in the St. Thomas Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to imccallum@postmedia.com.

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