Barrick defends motion on Pelham's debt load

It's my responsibility to protect taxpayers in Niagara.

That's the response Port Colborne Regional Councillor Dave Barrick gave CKTB when asked why he put Pelham's financial situation in the spotlight.

Barrick, who is also Budget Chair put forward a motion expressing concern that Pelham's debt load had the potential to impact the region's credit rating.

He says the Region must approve all debt by all municipalities in Niagara and Pelham's massive debt load has raised red flags.

Barrick says Pelham's taxes have gone up by 15 percent over the past three years.

He says several councillors are also concerned.

Barrick says other issues have been centred out in Pelham such as trading of development charges between developers, and treatment of budget contingencies for massive debt-based projects.

Barrick says council has referred the motion to the region's audit committee.

Pelham's Mayor Dave Augustyn is wondering why Barrick didn't contact him prior to bringing forward the motion.

Augustyn says the motion wasn't even labelled clearly on the agenda, saying it was titled Taxpayer Affordability Guidelines.

Barrick says staff titled the report not him, and that he finds it hypocritical that a Mayor that trumpets transparency would want a private conversation to take place on the matter.

Augustyn says the town is taking the allegations very seriously and they have prepared a 300 page report to show the town is fiscally responsible.

A public meeting will be held before the end of the month for residents who are concerned about the town's finances.

Augustyn says all the town's experts will be there to go through each and every issue brought up in the motion.

CKTB's Tom McConnell asked Augustyn is he thinks the motion has anything to do with distracting public attention away from the NPCA.

Augustyn says he doesn't know and obviously Pelham is totally separate from the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority.

He admits Pelham has been strong in terms of their criticism of the Authority's openness and transparency.

Barrick tells CKTB's Lee Sterry that this has nothing to do with the NPCA and that allegation is just a pathetic attempt.