President's Update - Nov 5, 2015
A recent article in the Interlake Enterprise newspaper has Mayor Rick Gamble of Dunnottar praising the new infrastructure money which has been promised by the new federal government. In our opinion we can only assume that this excitement about new infrastructure money means the sewer issue will soon be back on the council's agenda.
PUB RATE ISSUE
See the below letters demonstrating lack of information sharing with taxpayers. Pay particular attention to the dates on these letters.
DUNNOTTAR RATEPAYERS ASSOCIATION MAY 2015 UPDATE
RE: PUB ORDER 35/15 DUNNOTTAR SEWER RATE
Public Utilities Board Act Section 82(1) Discriminatory Rates
1. “no owner of a public utility shall make impose or exact any unjust or unreasonable, unjustly discriminatory, or unduly preferential individual or joint rate.....”
By now, Dunnottar ratepayers are becoming aware of the impact that PUB order 35/15 has had on property taxes. There are disproportionate savings for a few but much higher taxes for the vast majority of property owners.
Because of this discrepancy, we are encouraging concerned ratepayers to appeal PUB order 35/15 and ask for a full public hearing on the matter.
Since metering of pump outs has been rejected in this order, and no provisions have been made for the seasonal nature of most of the community, we feel there are grounds to have this order changed. The following are some of the questions you might want to ask the PUB and Dunnottar council.
1. Why the shift from 100% assessment based sewage fees to a $494.00 flat rate sewage fee without considering the option of a 50/50 split of these taxes as allowed under the Manitoba Municipal Act?
2. Why were Dunnottar taxpayers not notified by letter of the PUB order by Dunnottar council since they knew of this order and its implications since March 12, 2015? In fact, it has come to light that the PUB deadline for appealing 35/15 was April 12, 2015.
3. How were Dunnottar taxpayers supposed to appeal a PUB order that only came to light on about May 5, 2015 when tax bills started arriving? It would seem there was a deliberateness of purpose by not informing taxpayers by mail before the appeal eadline.
4. Why dd the PUB not call for a public hearing when the issue of sewer rate taxation effects every property in the village?
5. Was there due diligence by the PUB in exploring all payment options or was the PUB in a rush to make a decision so Dunnottar administration could put the new sewer rate structure on the June 30th, 2015 tax bills as is indicated by the PUB order?
There are many questions on how a petition by 39 highly assessed property owners could result in a PUB decision without hearing from the rest of the people in Dunnottar. We encourage concerned ratepayers to appeal decision 35/15 and ask for a full public hearing on this issue. Subsequent inquiries by the Dunnottar Ratepayers Association to the Public Utilities Board have resulted in the PUB stating they will consider all requests for appeal and public hearing, even though the April 12, 2015 appeal deadline has passed.
The Public Utilities Board
400-330 Portage Avenue
Appeals and concerns must be in writing and must identify PUB order 35/15. They must contain relevant information such as your home and cottage address along with your contact information.
Be sure to address how this order affects you, your concerns, and your proposed suggestions to better the PUB order 35/15.
Ed Strauman, President
Dunnottar Ratepayers Association
THE FOLLOWING IS A LETTER THAT WAS ADRESSED TO THE (ASSOCIATION OF MANITOBA MUNICIPALITIES) AMM FROM THE DRA:
On February 10, 2015, the Dunnottar Ratepayers Association Executive met with the Assistant Deputy Minister of Municipal Government regarding concerns our organization has with some of the resolutions passed at your November 2014 annual general meeting.
- resolution 4-2014 ... "revise the current resolution to develop a higher threshold of objections"
- resolution 5-2014 ... "develop a screening / review process to consider the merit of objections"
- "consider that objections on certain applications be limited to property owners and citizens of the municipality and / or within a defined distance of the project! proposal"
The Dunnottar Ratepayers Association feels the AMM proposals to limit, screen and increase the threshold of letters of objection is a clear attempt to stifle public opposition to controversial borrowing by-laws.
One only has to review Dunnottar Council's mishandling of the 2012 sewer issue to reinforce why the tax paying public needs more access to Municipal Board hearings not less, as you are proposing.
At a time when groups like the Dunnottar Ratepayers Association lobby for more open and transparent government at the municipal level, it would appear the AMM is advocating blocking behaviors which could result in less transparency and the erosion of the democratic process.
After our meeting with Provincial Municipal Government officials, it was clearly stated that the province is in no rush to restrict public inputs to the municipal borrowing process. This does raise the question as to why the AMM is so interested in doing so.
Village of Dunnottar Minutes - August 2014
Article 15.7 - Municipal Planning Commission Appointees
Resolution # 184-14
Council appoints the following residents to the municipal planning commission as per
by-law 841-07 for the terms indicated:
George Thompson To January 2016
Cary Storey To January 2016
Doreen Rosassen To January 2015
David Lobban To January 2015
It would seem that these appointments by council favor those who are in support of a sewer system for Dunnottar. The DRA would like to see a more balanced series of appointments, including cottagers, considering the results of the July 2012 sewer referendum.
President Edward Strauman
Dunnottar Ratepayers Association