Why Is Council Avoiding A Direct Question?
Posted by auroracitizen on July 24, 2010
Council Watch #11 – by Richard Johnson
Back in April I asked the town if the recent level of senior staff turn-over was typical of past councils or was it some kind of anomaly ?
I was then asked to file a freedom of information request, which I promptly obliged. I was reluctant to spend the total charge of $30 requested in order to get an answer to what I thought was a simple question that council itself should have been asking at no cost to me given that approximately twenty senior and mid level management staff have left the town in the past few years by choice, or otherwise.
When I opened up the town’s response (seconds after parting with my money) I realised that they had not actually answered my question.
Rather than get a specific answer with regards to senior and mid level management turn-over I received total employment numbers that suggest that staff turn-over on average appears to be in line with the previous two Council terms. At that point I decided that I could not afford to pay the money that would be expected to actually answer my question. I was prepared to cut my losses and move on to the next big municipal issue.
I have subsequently found out in a round about way that the Mayor informed a local reporter that all I had to do was ask her to answer the question and the answer would have been forthcoming at no cost to me. The Mayor’s comments also come as a surprise to me because I understand that at least two councillors have asked the same question of staff and have received no response.
At this point, through this OPEN QUESTION TO THE MAYOR, I would like to clarify if the senior and mid level staff turn over that we have witnessed during the current council term is typical of the pervious two councils or is it some kind of anomaly?
The town’s response to my FOI was also enlightening in that I found out that our town staff has grown by 20% since the last election, to a of total 192 people.
This too was typical of previous staff growth, however as a side note I had to ask myself if such an increase was in line with our town’s growth over the same period and was this staffing increase justifiable given the current economic downturn and the town’s apparent efforts to limit our tax increases ?
Some may argue that the town’s approach may be a Keynesian approach to stimulus spending, but I’m not so sure that increasing taxes year in and year out is in our collective best interest over the long term. If the Mayor wants to tackle that question as well, it would be much appreciated given that October 25th is fast approaching.
I look forward to receiving some kind of more detailed response that will hopefully come before October 25th at no further expense to me.