So Joe Gustafson was "surprised by the town's decision" (The Albertan, July 6, 2021). How is that possible?
The town had to refinance in 2017 and taxpayer dollars were used in 2018. The town then made it's demand last year. Please note, one does not have to be in default to have a loan called in. Mr. Gustafson and other former board members are not new to business dealings and should know how loans operate.
In the same front page article, Mr. Gustafson reported that O-NET had made $350,000 in 2020. Unfortunately, the operating costs for that year were not shared. Basic budgeting requires knowledge of incoming versus outgoing money. When costs exceed expenses, you incur debt. If you are not able to pay down the debt or meet minimum payments, there are consequences. Ask anyone who has had a vehicle repossessed or their house foreclosed upon. All board members should be familiar with this concept.
Clearly, revenue generated was not enough to cover expenses. Moreover, this was obviously not an isolated occurrence. Why, then, are the former board of directors expecting special consideration?
In my opinion, O-NET had a very sweet deal from the town for a very long time. It is unfortunate the board of directors were not able to turn O-NET into a lucrative business, but that is a risk of business and one that all directors involved would have been aware of. Natural and logical consequences apply.
As much as I disagree with the town on many issues, in this situation I applaud the town for doing what should have been done a long time ago. In fact, I am still at a loss as to how the town became bamboozled into getting involved in a private business venture in the first place?! How was this conceptualized as a profitable venture when we already had service providers (yes, plural)?
Regardless, the town is indeed acting in the best interest of citizens (now there's the surprise!) by cutting their losses and no longer delaying the inevitable.
However, I would still like accountability to the taxpayers for the $600,000 of taxpayer dollars that were used (as reported in the summarization provided in the June 29, 2021 Albertan). If taxpayers are on the hook, I think a copy of the O-NET accounting books should be public knowledge. Also, I would like to see a copy of the town's itemized (not general) budget made available for purposes of honesty, accountability, and transparency. As there is this amount of taxpayer surplus on hand, perhaps the taxpayers need to revisit how taxes are assessed, as well as why, how, and where these dollars are spent.
For those of you who are stressed about losing O-NET services, please read the article in the June 29, 2021 Albertan where the last sentence states "This decision will not change the services or customer expectations of O-NET, and all staff will be retained to run O-NET." No service loss and no job loss.
However, I would like to see this statement amended to include that no more taxpayer dollars will be spent regarding this debacle without consultation of taxpayers, as well as invoking a democratic process for decision making, with results thereof subsequently made publicly available.
Dr. Tara-Jean Wenc,