Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Gold-Plated “Era of Entitlement” Has to End - And A Current Case Study Example

Note to Langley Township Council: In case you haven’t noticed, there is a recession out there and it’s now being felt in Langley as shown previously in LFP. When are you politicos going to realize this?

We know that the majority of the current Township councillors derive most of their personal income from the public teat (i.e. Councillors Bateman, Fox, Ward, Ferguson, etc.) but this is no excuse to ignore the financial pain
being felt by many Langley Township taxpayers who don’t have the same luxury of a guaranteed annual income compliments of the taxpayers.

On March 24, 2009, Councillors Bateman, Ward, Ferguson, Long and Dornan agreed to send a preliminary budget increase of 5% out to the public.

Since then, the firefighter's and sports group's “partisan political enforcers” have again been whipped into an overtime frenzy. They have sent many letters/emails to the local papers and council saying: “YES! WE WANT A 5% TAX INCREASE”. One has to wonder why.

Have you ever seen anyone in Langley purposely asking for a tax increase unless there was some hidden agenda?

What garbage and misinformation have these well-meaning citizens been fed? By whom? And for what ulterior motives? Do these groups even realize that they are being politically manipulated? (Or do they even care as long as they think they have political power?)

Mayor Rick Green was elected on a platform to control and restrain taxes. Shortly after he was sworn in as Mayor, he appointed a Finance Committee. This committee was comprised of very qualified members of the public who spent 7 weeks (in between childish outbursts from Councillors Ward and Ferguson) reviewing Township financial records.

The Finance Committee recommended that a .93% tax increase was feasible and obtainable this year with NO CUTS to current Township service levels.

Councillors Bateman, Ward, Ferguson, Long and Dornan have purposely chosen to ignore the Finance Committee’s advice. They did not once raise any of the recommendations put forward by the Mayor’s Finance Committee before they voted to send a 5% tax increase to the public. Why?

Also interesting to note is how the Mayor’s Finance Committee spent 7 weeks reviewing the budget in detail (and recommended a .93% property tax increase) yet Township Council spent less than 6 hours before deciding that a 5% property tax increase was OK to send to the public.

So who really controls Langley Township Council? Is it the public? Or is it Township Administration and its [provincial Liberal] lackeys on Council?

You decide but here’s one last example for you to consider.

On March 23, 2009, Langley Township Council received a report from Township staff recommending that Council approve a Mowing Maintenance contract for 2009 to 2011 for $1,075,839 (the “Gold Medalist”). The “Silver Medalist” price was $811,388. Staff recommended the “Gold Medalist” (a $1+ Million price package). The Langley Times this week reported about this very contract debate between Councillor's Richter & Fox and is scheduled to be finally considered again on this Monday's council meeting again.

The difference between these two price packages (on grass cutting alone) is equivalent to a ½ percent annual Township tax increase. This cost difference alone could be applied to much needed service enhancements in other areas like better snow removal or more full time firefighters.

So why are we, the taxpayers, paying more for a service we already have when we could get the same service for less price and still have money left over for other services we really need (like better snow removal)?

This is just one more example of why the Township is well renowned for its gold plated “Culture of Entitlement” and one more example of why we need a Council that works for the people who elected it instead of those arrogant back room BC Liberal lackeys who think they run it all.

P.S. Monday we will see what Council votes on this mowing contract. Bet the Gold plated Group of Six votes for it? We have asked an expert for his comments on this bid process and the above bid summary document about the above Mowing Maintenance RFQ 3PRE09-302 that the Township of Langley requested and got bids for. He pointed out a few interesting things.

  1. He first found it curious that the two Township Evaluators had different points given under the price evaluation column for only the last 4 high bidders and the exactly same points given for the 3 low bidders. How can that be? After all bid price is bid price isn’t it?
  2. Secondly he was concerned that it would seem that the actual bid price was far less than 20% or at best one fifth of the DECIDING criteria ranking of the whole bid consideration as to who got the work! In other words price is not an object or criteria that ranks in importance with the Township of Langley it would seem! And why not? After all they can every year go back to the taxpayers for another 5% tax hike!
  3. Third it obviously seemed that experience with the Township gave what would seem a very unfair advantage to only one bidder because it appears only one bidder has had Township experience. Our expert said imagine if all Township contracts were awarded with this criteria. We would most likely always have premium prices and ever less competitive bids coming in and invariably always use the same contractor . He also pointed out that in other than Langley's jurisdictional government bids this was proven often as an easy way to take care of close friends at times.
  4. Fourth he questioned how the point evaluation scheme had the exact same points given to all the bidders for experience and references yet the two evaluators had big variances in Equipment evaluations. Why the difference here?
  5. Fifth who were the evaluators and did they clearly before receiving bids specify their evaluation formula and specific points awarding details to all the bidders?
  6. Finally our expert says that there has been a long documented history especially in Governments that have led to very questionable biases and much worse allegations of corruption around these similar subjective bid evaluation methods. Many of which have gone to court for both civil and criminal reasons. Use of only two evaluators he frankly says is ludicrous and dangerous and puts an inordinate amount of pressure and stress and unfortunately perhaps opportunity on these two public servants.
In a summary our expert says that especially in government public bids he would never recommend this process. Low price bid should always be the only final criteria. He suggests if concerns about service levels are feared that instead a clearly articulated penalty process be established to handle those in default that would return money or exact appropriate penalties for gaps in promised service. Or he suggests that a performance bond perhaps be part of the bid to recompense for contract breaches.

Another suggestion is that perhaps the Township split the service area into 2, 3 or even four zones to then have better future comparisons and alternate ready emergency back ups and this would certainly require far less equipment by any one super mowing contractor while spreading the wealth around as well and staying away from any real or perceived bias. At worst case, he says if absolutely necessary, that all bidders be invited to first pre-qualify to bid and that they be weeded out (forgive the pun) in this process first and then the contract goes to the low bidder. But again our expert says that this process is also fraught with questionable risks and issues as well, but it is a better compromise.

The bottom line is that this case clearly documents that The Gold-Plated “Era of Entitlement” Has to End and that it is NOT and never has been about cutting the essentials like Fire and Police portions of the Township budget. There is obviously lots of fat or grease that can be skimmed out of the constant 5% annual tax increases other than in protective services! It's time to stop looking and pointing at the must haves like Fire & Police and start looking at the nice to have as demonstrated in this mowing contract case study.

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