A snowy driveway in Iroquois Falls(Ontario) explains Government Economics 101
Last Updated: Aug 8, 2012 3:19 PM ET
Wikipedia/Iroquois Falls town office
Iroquois Falls is not a large community, just 4,600 people on the banks of the Abitibi River w-a-a-a-a–ay up in northern Ontario. There’s one road in and one road out. For fun you can drive to Timmins, about 70 km away, and visit the Shania Twain museum. Iroquois Falls claims to have set the record for lowest temperature in Ontario, -58°C in January 1935. But the town’s chief administrative officer said a mouthful the other day when discussing the complaint of a local resident who wanted the windrows cleaned off his driveway. In a couple of short sentences, Michel Morrissette summed up the entire problem with municipal budgets.
Windrows are the ridge of snow left behind by snowplows when they pass a driveway opening. Everyone hates windrows. You labour away shovelling or blowing the snow away, just to have a snow plow turn up and deposit a big wedge of hard-packed ice and snow across the bottom the the drive.
Ivan Williams is 54 and disabled, and can’t work. He doesn’t have a lot of money, and wanted the town to save him the $15 it costs to have someone clean the snow off his drive. When the town said it wasn’t possible, he went to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, which ruled that, much as it sympathized with the plight of the disabled, the town simply couldn’t afford the service, and refusing it did not constitute discrimination.
Mr. Williams says that’s baloney, since he can hire a private contractor for just $15. But the town claims it can’t do the job for less than $75 an hour, and would have to extend it to the entire population.
They’re both right, which is the vexation. As Mr. Morrisette noted,
“We do have the extra burden on payroll … We have benefits, pension funds, we have a whole array of things the private contractor doesn’t have to pay. The private contractor can do it cheaper for sure.”
In other words, the town is prevented by bureaucratic realities from doing the job at a reasonable price. A contractor can just show up with a snow blower and clear the drive. The town, however, would have to send two workers – one to run the plow and the other
to stand around and watch act as a flagperson. They’d have to be paid the going rate of $47 an hour, plus benefits. And there’s the cost of the plow.
If Mr. Williams was to get his windrows cleared, everyone in Iroquois Falls would have to have their windrows cleared, which the town estimates would bump the price to about $175,000 a winter.
So, in the real world, cleaning a driveway costs $15. In politics, it costs $175,000.
That’s why we have deficits, dear readers. And why government costs so much. And why civil servants grow accustomed to treating ludicrous costs as normal expenditures. And why taxes are far higher than they need be.
Because of the windrows in Iroquois Falls. More or less.
I’ve heard it said , by Gov’t workers themselves, that you could cut half the staff and still get the same amount of work done.
This featherbedding is simply going to bankrupt us.
In Richmond, for example,when we see the usual crew of say (8) people at a given job and maybe (2) working, I was informed that , depending on the job, the crew comes as a package. ie if a Bobcat excavator is required, then with it ALSO comes several other City workers.
With an increasingly difficult economy, the gap between US and THEM will increase….you will have a Council that has less “balls” to stand up to unions…and simply up the taxes, regardless of the ability of the taxpayers to pay.
Enough is Enough…now is the time to reel in these civil servants, and have a serious look at contracting out. We, the taxpayers owe them nothing. It is time to take charge of what was stolen, ie accountability and fiscal responsibility. If you can’t get blood out of a stone…then time to rock n’ roll.