When I was first told that a Georgina resident was required to pay the Town of Georgina $50.00 to find out information regarding the Town’s plans for sewers along Black River Road, I immediately thought it was a joke.
But, apparently not.
Carol Hunt tells me someone at the Town did indeed tell her it would cost $50.00 to “inquire about sewer connection on Black River Rd. in Sutton.”
Are you kidding me?!
That should never happen. We not only pay the wages of the staff at the Civic Centre, we have paid for everything in it—every filing cabinet, every piece of paper and the intellectual property that goes with it. Whenever a taxpayer requests information it should be readily available at no cost whatsoever.
This user-fee mentality is getting way out of hand. I mean, we have already paid to build every single public facility in this Town and yet whenever we want to use them, we are charged to do so. And the costs in some cases, go beyond covering the actual operating and capital costs resulting in a profit for the facility.
Children and youth programs such as scouts, beavers, soccer and hockey all pay huge user fees to access facilities that we built for them to use— and now many families find the cost of use way beyond their means.
And now, it seems accessing and providing information to the tax paying public is another revenue stream for the Town. After requesting the information in an email, here is the response Ms. Hunt received from a Town employee:
“…we do require an administration fee of $50.00 to be paid along with a written request of the information that you desire. Upon receipt of your request and payment of the administration fee, it may take this Department up to two weeks for response.”
Let’s get real, Georgina! We pay you to provide services and you get paid well. The information you have is ours for the asking—and shouldn’t be for sale to us!
I could quote both politicians and Town staff ad nauseam on the subject of “transparency” and how they always say everything they do is open for public consumption. But never have I heard them say that “transparency” is only available to those who can pay for it.
I think these people have forgotten who they are working for. It isn’t for the CAO or members of council—they are working for us. And when we ask for information that we own and have every right to receive, that information should be released with a smile and not an invoice.
I’ve seen them spends thousands of dollars on reports they want us to see—and that information is made readily available free of charge. So how can they rationalize and justify a cost for information that we want to see?
Karen Wolfe, Editor