When a company comes into a community to run a waste water treatment plant it is about making a profit — it’s big business. And in Sooke it will be a multi-million dollar business deal.
At the Committee of the Whole meeting on April 9, a number of people came before council to talk about the “deal.” There was no question that EPCOR is a good corporate citizen, but they are in business to make money for their shareholders. If the original strategy had been to put the entire operation out to bid there is a chance the pencils would have been sharpened and Sooke would have likely gotten a better deal.
Simple things like the wrong number of eligible electors makes one wonder about the other figures in the contract. The cost projections when compared to the original five-year contract are now almost double. Annual operation fees in the new contract for 2011 are $924,752. The cost projection in 2006 for 2011 was pegged at $501,085. How do costs rise so dramatically? The original 2006 numbers were ones supplied by EPCOR. Are we really getting the best deal possible or is it the only deal possible?
Long term deals can often save money but if the numbers are highly inflated only one side wins and we pay for it. I should say, those hooked up to the sewer pay for it. There is already a short fall in the fees paid to the tune of about $300,000.
The Alternative Approval Process is one that many people are unfamiliar with. If you are opposed to the 21-year deal with EPCOR then you have to say so on the AAP form and submit it to the municipal hall by the due date. If the AAP fails and people say they do not want to go for the big deal, then it goes to referendum. If this becomes the case then council and staff should be looking at putting the deal out to tender, just as it should have been done in the first place. The job of the administration is to get taxpayers the very best deal possible, not the easiest deal possible.