I am seriously disappointed in the volume of misinformation that is being published for and against this library situation.
Town manager Tony Goode, who is 16 months away from retirement should resign for publishing a statement about the equal costs of operating the new town office compared to the current situation. What he didn’t tell the citizens of Rimbey besides the loss of a $625,000 asset, is that the hidden costs in this whole library fiasco in transferring the town office to the Provincial Building are probably in excess of $250,000. They come from an estimated $50,000 cost for leasehold improvements to the Provincial Building necessary to house the new town offices, added to the cost of the move and the cost of a sidewalk that no one wants and few will use. Sidewalk cost could be upwards of $125,000. You add that to the fact that the library will now be responsible for the additional $3,000 per month costs at the town office and who do you suppose pays for the library’s costs? Most of our seniors visit one of the two drugstores on a monthly basis and had access to the town office. Now that will be gone. What about our other decaying sidewalks and roads that need attention?
Mayor Sheldon Ibbotson ran his last election campaign based on a massive amount of misinformation of wrongdoings by the previous council, supposedly accumulated from the documents that one of Rimbey Ratepayers Association candidates FOIPed and distributed around the community. Where is the vaunted ratepayers association, remember those enthusiastic, righteous individuals who were going to staunchly defend our community and its assets? Ibbotson ran on a platform of transparency and consultation. Where is that now?
I am informed it was suggested to send out an invite in the utility bill to the town’s citizens to come to a meeting to discuss the library but the mayor and council said no. Why don’t they want a public meeting about this library situation? The library withdrawing their offer to purchase for $1 and offering to lease the property is a joke. It amounts to the same thing. What is the difference? Taxpayers are still going to be out of pocket approximately $250,000 and lose easy access to the town office.
The mayor has been heard to brag that he has been “fulfilling his mandate” to beautify our community. Ibbotson and his three yes men (woman) don’t seem to understand that a vital part of their mandate or term in office is to make our community an economically viable community, one which creates jobs and has an open and prosperous business environment. Every jurisdiction in the world is trying to create jobs and economic expansion. Why is the business community upset at the mayor and this council? Remember the hundreds of thousands of dollars they denied businesses who invested in our community on a promise of tax considerations, which Ibbotson and his supporters on council withdrew based upon a partial truth about the legality of the tax incentive bylaw. Yes, it was illegal in the form it was written but they were told by legal counsel they could rewrite it and make it legal. They chose not to and from my perspective took that money from those businesses and have killed economic development in our community and depreciated the value of our homes.
Regarding the library petition, I was one of those who took this petition door to door and out of the 25 doors that I knocked on I received a signature from every resident. There wasn’t one who was for the proposed library takeover of the town offices. Most were astonished that the town was giving away this asset.
Another major issue I have with the mayor and council is them bragging about their cash reserves. How did they come upon those reserves? They sold an ambulance service worth $1.2 million for less than half of its value. It was a good thing they got a little less than $500,000 for the operation, as I understand at one point councillors Paul Payson and Gayle Rondeel were entertaining selling it to Guardian out of Sylvan Lake for $1. If you checked with the past town manager you would understand that the ambulance service was a money making operation for the town.
There is a more recent giveaway of a revenue source for the town that most don’t know about. The Nesting Place campground owned by the town is being turned over to the Lions Club to operate. Fortunately the Lions will do a great job in running it and all of their resources are dedicated to the town. But the point is, it was a money making operation — $20,000 to $30,000 a year that the town has walked away from.
The good news is that this mayor and his council only have six months left before the next election. I have heard ugly rumours that they all might run again. I am hopeful business-minded people, with common sense, who know something about marketing a community will step forward to fix the mess this council is creating.