A friend of mine pointed out the Mayor’s Proclamation of “Restorative Justice Week” in the Town Times column on page 7 of the Nov. 14 edition of the Ponoka News. The mayor speaks of things such as accountability, reparation, movement towards understanding and a sense of closure.
All property owners on 38th Street have been cheated by the Town but I would like to outline how two of them were singled out for special treatment. These two property owners already had a water service to the Town’s water line on 38th Street and required only a sewer service. However, when the Town undertook this local improvement, they charged the cost of the private service connections to the Local Improvement Tax so that everyone paid a portion of the cost according to the amount of frontage they had.
The two property owners in question, who already had a water service, also have large frontages. The total cost of the private connections is $46,700 plus $8,000 for engineering. This includes $4,100 for gas line crossings that did not occur. The biggest frontage on 38th Street is 290 feet. So the cost of their service amounted to $9,463. Another frontage is 55 feet, their cost was $1,784.
Section 409 (2) of the Municipal Act states, “The cost of constructing a private connection must be imposed against the parcel of land that benefits from it…” The Town violated this section of the Act and certainly imposed an unfair tax on those with large frontages. The two properties that already had water services were charged the same rate per front foot as those who received both water and sewer services. Our calculations show, along with an overcharge of one other item, the Town overcharged one of these owners $4,444 and the other $10,182 for just these two items.
The Town, in their response to our second FOIP request, June 13, 2012, admitted they made an error on the above two items. We submitted a request, dated July 23, 2012, for a refund from the Town for their overcharge of these two items. We received no response. We submitted a second request, dated Sept. 4, 2012. Again, we received no response from the Town. Our requests were not even brought to a town council meeting. I understand the mayor controls what goes on the agenda.
Given the Town’s track record over the years, they are the biggest source of injustice and turmoil in town. They withhold and conceal information in an attempt to deceive and suppress the truth. They are anything but open and accountable. The mayor’s proclamation clearly illustrates the hypocrisy of their behavior. Isn’t it high time for a little ‘restorative justice’?