Chestermere mayor calls non-confidence petition a waste of money
Patricia Matthews says city has been transparent with information, decisions
The mayor of Chestermere says a non-confidence petition some citizens have presented to the province seeking an investigation would cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars and it's unnecessary because the information is already readily available.
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A resident hand delivered a petition — said to contain 5,400 signatures — to the minister of municipal affairs Thursday calling on the province to step in because residents have lost confidence in their city council's ability to govern.
They say they are fed up with ever-increasing taxes and utility bills and a recent, massive financial error by the town's utility provider was the "last straw."
Mayor Patricia Matthews acknowledges that recent city communications could, like any organization, be better.
"Could we do more? Absolutely, anybody can," Matthews said Friday.
"Do we take feedback from residents on how to better communicate? You bet. Do we hear that we need to do more communication? Absolutely, we will be doing more and more every day."
Matthews said, while she hasn't seen the petition yet, the action being called for would be costly and isn't needed because all of the city's actions, including taxes and utility rate determination, are already available.
"This is going to cost us as taxpayers," Matthews said.
"If municipal affairs moves forward with this investigation it is going to cost all of us as taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars to provide information that is already available to anyone that wants to see it."
Some residents were furious to learn in December their city-provided utility bills would jump about $30 a month after city administrators discovered consumers had been undercharged for years.
"When we set the rate in February, we took a look at what the impact was going to be on residents at that time and we balanced it with the recommendations that came forward through our third party regulatory review," Matthews said.
"We set the rate at a place where we know everyone understands that they have to pay their fair share, but we didn't want rate shock out there either."
The mayor said residents who want to learn more about rates and city decisions have lots of ways to do so.
In addition to the website and social media, "You can come in and talk to council about any council decision anytime." Matthews said.
"We are all on the same page here. We all want to build a beautiful community for reasonable taxes. What is frustrating is that we are already doing that."
With files from Colleen Underwood, Robson Fletcher and John Gibson