Is the truth revealed?

It is now more than three years that we have been trying to get a complete cost breakdown of the cost of 38th Street local improvement.

Dear Editor:

It is now more than three years that we have been trying to get a complete cost breakdown of the cost of 38th Street local improvement. Despite many written and verbal request to the Town of Ponoka, two FOIP requests and two requests for a review by the Information and Privacy Commissioner, we still do not have all the facts. However, we have made significant progress.

1. The Town charged 38th Street property owners for seven gas lines crossings for the private sewer and connection on the east side of 38th Street. The charge was $500 for each private connection, plus about $600 engineering. From the as-built plan, we obtained through our second FOIP request; we saw the gas line was well inside the property line. I checked with the gas company, their plan shows the gas line 4.2 metres inside the property lines. When they installed the private connections to the property lines they were four metres away from the gas line. There were no gas lines crossings but 38th Street owners were still charged $4,100 for these phantom crossings. If the town officials were not aware of this before, they have now known of the overcharge since at least June 13, 2012, yet they have made no effort to correct their error.

2. The Progress Payment Certificates show that on 40th Avenue, 38th Street property owners were charged for an eight-metre water stub line to the south and a 13-metre, 150mm infill piping to the east, for a total of 21 metres. The as-built plan reveals there is only a one-metre stub line to the south and a 10-metre line to the east. The town has not acknowledged this error. The 10-metre charged for but not installed, at a cost of about $4,900 with engineering, needs to be refunded.

3. On 46th Avenue, the town charged for 26 metres of water line to the east but the as-builts show only 15 metres were installed. That’s another overcharge of about $5,280.

4. On 42nd avenue the town charged twice for the infill piping and a valve to the fire hydrant. That is an extra 15 metres of 200mm water line plus the valve, for a cost of over $6,800.

5. The town charged for 405 metres of sanitary sewer main line. Both the predesign and as-built plans clearly show only 396 metres was installed. Another $3400.

6. In a town’s summary of the local improvement costs, three items were removed for the local improvement tax. a) $35,000 for extra private sewer and water connections, which were paid for by property owners requesting these extra services. b) $21,130 for a sewer and water extension line installed on 46th Avenue for a private developer. c) $12,600 for moving the fire hydrant that was installed in the wrong location. A total of 368,730 construction costs for these three items was removed from the local improvements cost but the engineering, over $10,000, was still charged to the 38th Street property owners.

The town, in our second FOIP request, did admit they made a mistake yet more than five months later they have made still no efforts to correct their error. The total of these items is$34,480.

In conclusion: Is there anyone in Ponoka who thinks the town did not cheat 38th Street residents on this local improvement? It is now clear why they were trying to conceal the truth. The town needs to tell the people of Ponoka the truth, deal with the matter and correct the injustice.

There is more much more to tell but because of the length of this letter, I will try to cover the rest another time.

Nick Kohlman