Vote with your head

The Beacon (Gander) - - Editorial -

It’s one town’s quandary but it serves to make a broader point. Mere weeks from now, mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion cam­paigns across the prov­ince will be in full swing, and on Bell Is­land, the Wa­bana town coun­cil just ac­ci­den­tally sold part of its wa­ter sup­ply to a lo­cal busi­ness­man.

The Wa­bana sit­u­a­tion is still bub­bling along, with the busi­ness­man ar­gu­ing the town should pay him thou­sands in rent to use a drink­ing wa­ter source the town and the prov­ince paid for.

The $400,000-wa­ter treat­ment fa­cil­ity was ac­ci­den­tally in­cluded in land sold to Jim Ben­nett and Beach­stone En­ter­prises last year. Coun­cil sold the town’s old fire hall to Beach­stone in an ef­fort to save money on up­keep and re­pairs, but ap­par­ently sold more land than they had planned to.

In July, Ben­nett no­ti­fied the town that he wanted $3,000 a month in rent for the wa­ter sup­ply op­er­a­tion and would be im­pos­ing a $50-a-day late fee if the rent wasn’t paid.

The coun­cil is try­ing to fig­ure out its op­tions – but pretty much any­thing is likely to cost money.

And that’s why the tim­ing of this story break­ing pub­licly is so im­por­tant — be­cause de­ci­sions have con­se­quences.

Over the next month, peo­ple will be de­cid­ing who should be elected to run their towns and cities in this prov­ince. Those new coun­cils will then make de­ci­sions on town con­tracts, tax rates, and the list goes on.

Be­ing on a coun­cil is thank­less job; vot­ers ex­pect you to be avail­able and an­swer­able at all times, and they are quick to pile on if you’ve made a mis­take.

Coun­cil de­ci­sions are not small de­ci­sions. Even in small towns, they can have big fi­nan­cial con­se­quences. In fact, the smaller the coun­cil, the less a fi­nan­cial cush­ion there is for se­ri­ous mis­takes. At the end of the day, tax­pay­ers are left on the hook for the de­ci­sions their coun­cils make on their behalf.

So, take the time to ed­u­cate your­self. Look at the can­di­dates in your area, weigh their ex­pe­ri­ence and par­tic­u­lar ex­per­tise, talk to them about how they would run your town, and make sure that their vi­sion for the place where you live is one you can live with.

Does their vi­sion view all growth as a good thing? Do tax dol­lars and per­mit fees glis­ten in their eyes with the first words from a de­vel­oper? Do they plan for great things, or see their jobs as re­spon­si­ble ste­wards for the ex­ist­ing struc­ture and size of op­er­a­tions?

Have they done it be­fore? Have they got new ideas? Do they want a town that can live within its means, or do they want more means?

The Septem­ber elec­tion is cit­i­zens’ only op­por­tu­nity for the next four years to make their voice heard in the 276 in­cor­po­rated mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in this prov­ince.

Choose wisely.

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