LETTER TO THE EDITOR
There were good presentations made on the Tillsonburg Hydro disposition issue at the May 14 meeting of town council, held at the community centre.
There was also a large crowd of citizens – against the town disposing of the valuable asset, if applause for speakers opposing the move was any indication.
THI board members, seemingly feeling pressured by the province, gave their views on why the town should sell THI or merge with other utilities.
There were thoughtful, well-researched presentations on this being a valuable asset, and that taxpayers would be losers if local control is lost.
There were presentations by companies willing to welcome THI into the fold, and even one by an NDP candidate critical of the provincial pressure being applied.
Because it was a council meeting, unfortunately there was really no opportunity for debate, serious questioning or discussion. The 6 p.m. start may also have made it difficult for business or working folks to attend.
Frankly, I was with the audience. I see no sound business scenario for the town not to keep control of THI for the benefit of our community.
THI is in the business or distributing electricity in the town, said to represent only a small portion of your hydro bill. It involves things like installation and maintenance of power lines, transformers and metering. Under the company's structure, office work, billing, etc., are done through town staff. Staff costs would still remain, if council disposes of THI.
Where are the supposed savings that would result from simply having things "bigger?"
Would the cost of supplying electricity to the system go down? Can you buy wire and transformers and meters cheaper? Would staffing needs be cut and still supply the same service to customers?
Comments were made at the meeting about having to wade through 800 pages of information and opinions to get an idea of the big picture. Speakers who did managed to find reasons supporting their view that the town not dispose of THI.
Of course, consultants are usually brought in to advise on such matters – "expertise" for hire.
We've seen them help muck up structures for education, health care and even the jackbooted provincial approach to municipal restructuring that was blind to the fact that Oxford and Norfolk had already been restructured into practical working units years before.
The "experts" may be well schooled, but do they sometimes lack a practical view of things? Are the most important considerations, people and how best to serve their needs, sometimes pushed into the background? Are we, as someone has probably said, been losing control of our lives by degrees – MBA, BCom, BURPI, BEng, Bs and Ms of all kinds?
If you missed the council meeting, it might be wise to catch a rerun on Rogers cable.
If you feel that disposing of THI may have a negative impact on your tax bills and on servicing the needs of the community when problems occur, or in meeting growth needs, using local workers who understand situations that may arise, then it may be wise to let council know. The disposition question will be back before them at the June meeting.