There is a great disconnect on winter disconnects

city_scope_logo-cmykFaced with the inevitable, St. Thomas Energy this week voluntarily halted the practice of winter disconnects for unpaid bills. The decision was made a day before the province pulled the plug on such action.
“The OEB (Ontario Energy Board) has strict rules about disconnects and time periods and we have to offer pay arrangements and we’ve always followed the OEB guidelines on that,” advised Rob Kent, acting CEO at St. Thomas Energy.
“We are voluntarily agreeing to the moratorium on disconnects.”
The obvious question is what leverage does St. Thomas Energy now have collecting overdue bills during cold weather months?
“You do lose leverage during the winter months when you can’t disconnect, but what no one has really looked at is what happens when that period ends and the customer has a substantial bill? How do you help them make arrangements and get caught up without getting disconnected in the spring and summer months? That is something we’re going to have to address.”

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No financial accountability? Then no public funding


Members of city council will don their referee shirts Monday as the Downtown Development Board and North America Railway Hall of Fame escalate their funding feud.

The jousting dates back to last summer when the DDB, under chairman Mark Cosens, “loaned” NARHF the sum of $10,000.

Now, the DDB wants the sum repaid, however it is being stymied at every turn by NARHF.

Dan Muscat, current DDB chairman, is attempting to obtain records from NARHF to determine the status of the loan.

“This situation is a city council issue as it is the past DDB board (under the leadership of Cosens) that sanctioned the loan,” asserts Muscat, in a letter to council.
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Fiscal restraint at city hall a matter of attitude


Totally unsustainable. That’s the only conclusion following the disclosure this week of municipal staff who earned more than $100,000 in 2010.

Membership in the sunshine club mushroomed by 44% — 39 city employees are included on the list, up from 27 in 2009. However, only 10 are city hall employees, while 16 are firefighters and 13 are with the police department.

Is overtime part of the problem, questions Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman.

“Can we do something to curb that? What can we do to keep this in check to deal with this?”

Yes, overtime is a factor with both police and fire and, for the time being, there’s little St. Thomas can do.
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City’s fire fighters respond to developer Bob McCaig


In a letter to the Times-Journal, St. Thomas developer Bob McCaig questioned the motives of city fire fighters going door-to-door in support of municipal candidates who support public safety.

He encouraged voters to “support candidates who promise to provide services based on their needs and not on the direction of one of Ontario’s most powerful union lobbies.”

The full transcript of his letter can be read here

Here is the response from Warren Scott, president St.Thomas Professional Fire Fighters’ Association …

I am writing to correct inaccuracies that appeared in an October 15, 2010 letter to the editor (“Base Municipal Vote on Need Not the Direction of Union Lobby”).

The aforementioned letter centres around the issue of some St. Thomas Fire Fighters’ Association members volunteering their off duty time to participate in the democratic process; more specifically, involving ourselves in the upcoming municipal elections.
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