A small glimmer of hope has emerged from a very unusual place. Residents in the tiny town of Essex, which is actually an amalgamation of pleasant small places, including its namesake, along with such other delights as Harrow and Colchester, appear to be the first in the region to push back against doing the work of their government. This civic revolution might start to wake up the sleepy residents of Windsor.
Of course, possibly because of changing the clock to spring forward, the once rosy city’s inhabitants are way too groggy to notice how their city’s administration is taking advantage of them.
One of the most recent schemes appears to be to transfer park maintenance to ratepayers. It was exposed in the parks department’s so-called Rediscover Parks planning document. It is very scary reading for those who think government should do the work of government.
Without question, Windsor’s administrators are no slouches when it comes to ordering taxpayers to do their work.
Who can forget what happened to Achilles and Roula Koukousoulas? The Windsor Star reported on June 21, 2012, about them being told to clean-up a ditch opposite their home, “… thanks in part to city belt-tightening.”
The unsuspecting retired couple were formally put on notice to cut the ditch’s weeds which, being in a city depression, are technically owned by the city. If they didn’t comply their taxes would rise equal to the city’s cost of doing the work it should be doing.
Virginia Asuncion, in a December 7, 2012, letter to the Star’s editor reported bringing the city’s attention to garbage littering a neighbourhood alley. She was told to, “… ‘take care of it’ by moving the garbage to my front curb for garbage collection.”
Given this as background, it was quite the welcome surprise to see Essex’s fine denizens solidly reject a plan to have them do the work of their economic development officer (EDO).
A recent report reminded the town’s councillors of a plan to have citizens conduct a business walk survey of local enterprises. Gathered data would provide guidance to the officer.
Admittedly, it was a rather odd plan seeing as how the officer should automatically know what is going on. Even odder was having untrained citizens do her work.
Economic development, as it is practiced in most communities, is not ideally suited to neophytes or conscripted citizens. Information gathered by untrained hands is often worth what the municipality pays for it; nothing.
However, reported the officer, the process proved “problematic” mostly because, “… a raft of volunteers has not been forthcoming and the EDO will be unable to conduct the walks for personal reasons.”
Essex’s citizens famously resisted doing the work of the hired hand, probably knowing full well municipalities collect taxes to hire people trained to do certain jobs. Granted, kind hearted residents do bravely serve as volunteer firefighters. In some towns it is quite the tradition.
But, the line should stop there because the more a municipality transfers its work to taxpayers, the more money its administrators have to spend on frivolities.
This is what is happening in Windsor. It is using taxpayer money to fund the swimming and diving events of a foreign outfit rather than use its scarce resources to do what it is supposed to do; like fixing its deteriorating roads.
Windsor taxpayers can sit and take it, or be brave, like those in Essex.
Robert Tuomi can be heard at noon every Thursday co-hosting Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor on CJAM 99.1 FM. Listen on demand to previous episodes or catch the discussion live and join in. It is also streamed online at CJAM.