Financial Facts and Comments by City of Quesnel Finance Chair Councillor Sushil Thapar

Financial Facts and Comments


City of Quesnel Finance Chair

Councillor Sushil Thapar

Released on October 27, 2011

1.  Over budget - Library demolition by $11,909.00
     Over budget - Wood waste drop off by $15,463.00
     Over budget  - Well #10 construction $439,789.00 (city has to mitigate those risks as water is essential).
     Over budget - Bike underpass $75,000.00 Dragon Lake hill 1 Million dollar project.
     Over budget - Newman Road project by $66,106.00.  Newman Road developer did not pay a dime for development cost charges to the city. Gook Country Estates sued the city as the developer. That cost city of Quesnel tax payers over $667,000.00.
     Over Budget - St. Laurent Revitalization originally budgeted for $890,000.00 with provision of $375,000.00 grant from Town of Tomorrow, Design $75,000.00 was already paid.  It was supposed to be done in house locally to save money and help our economy. The Grant of $375,000.00 did not show up. Instead council, rather than wait for a different program, decided to go ahead all out of city pocket and then approved over 1 Million dollars.  Now same project increased by $485,000.00. So we have to ask if this is under budget!!!.

2. Overspent –Quesnel Economic Development by $27,500.00.  Mary Sjostrom chair and lot more to it. (in Camera)

3.  City Hall Building Administration - 2008 – 1.5 million now 2011 - 2 million.
Director of Public Works was paid approx $100,000.00 a year and now the same job is costing approx $162,000.00 including a contractor for an increase of over $62,000.00.

4.  Water and Sewer bills now $406.60 increased again this year. Committee chose to add A $74,200.00 full time employee with 5 against 2 votes. Moved Councillor Roodenberg second by Mayor Sjostrom, Cave, Oakes and Couldwell in support – opposed by Councillor Thapar and Councillor Paull.

5.  City residents, (except South Hills) pay a frontage tax which is calculated on the lot size.  This covers the ongoing costs for water and sewer.  All frontage taxes were increased but the cost to South Hills was not because it is not a line item on their bills.  South Hills pays for the connection charges to city water but they do not pay for the upkeep as the other city residents do. South Hill's water debt is $1,988,758.42 that is what they are paying for.  For example: on my house I paid $120.00 for water and sewer frontage tax. Frontage tax collected in 2011 for water was $725,000.00, Sewer $208,416.00 for a total of $933,447.00 from the rest of the city. Mayor Sjostorm and council voted for this and opposed were Councillor Thapar and Councillor Paull who voted against it as it is an unfair practice.

6.  WEST QUESNEL 2014 Bring back to council option for parcel taxes for phase Two on top of regular tax.

7.   Transit…2008 municipal cost was $144,877.00 now in 2011 we have an increase of $158,477.00 for a total cost of Transit in 2011 of $303,354.00.  There is a 7 year contract in place which has 100’s of thousands of dollars in increases coming our way.

8.  Sept 3, 2010 Mayor Sjostrom and the previous manager spent over $200,000.00 of city taxpayer’s money without getting approval of council. Evidence is in the file. Never happened before in my nine years on council.

9.   Expense Claims - Mayor Sjostrom overspent $570.00 in four days at Whistler UBCM.  Her expense claim was for $2,333.85 while mine was $1763.85.
Mayor Sjostrom in 2009 FCM in Whistler spent $2915.15 for 4 days, once again Hotel Fairmont at $305.85 per night.
Mayor Sjostrom will not disclose her city owned and paid phone bills for last three years.
Mayor Sjostrom will not disclose her expenses claims from her other 9 different committees she sits on.

10.   Spending in question: (City provided data after I went to the Cariboo Observer) local Lunch $23.17 - Windshield Claim:$200.00 - Lunch and Wine: $42.30 - Lunch $49.39 - Christmas gift Home Depot $78.94 - local mileage to Quesnel Airport $9.40 - local lunch: $17.13 - local mileage to Quesnel airport $11.52 - local lunch  $49.39 - local mileage to airport $11.52 - local lunch $25.55 - local lunch $33.99 - local lunch $16.62 - picture frame, outdoor cord and plant $67.54 - Chocolates $49.46 - local lunch $30.17 - Tag (no receipt) $10.00 - Napkin receipts Mayor Sjostorm and Butch Sjostorm $20.00 - London Drugs chocolates $46.12 - chocolate $26.20 - local lunch $15.96 - Gift office supplies $85.39 - Local lunch $44.70 – fruitcup and coffee: $7.09 - roast  beef $7.00, soda, turkeyblt wrap, fruit salad: $17.37 - HELLO magazine, coke, Hickory Sticks: $9.46 - Local lunch $40.37 - Greeting card 1 $7.28, jumbo Bow Curl, tissue wrapping $12.32 - Chocolate AFTER EIGHT $38.97, TURTLES $35.97,WERTHERS $9.99 TOTAL WITH TAXES $95.12(Costco) - Local lunch for TWO $56.39 - COSTCO SPLENDA $21.99, CUP$14.79 NAPKINS 6.39 Total $45.71 - Michaels $153.00 Christmas supplies - 3 Motherstone Books $113.40 gifts 108 mile - 3 SC Books $30.00 - Local lunch 29.72 - Local lunch $21.69 -Local lunch $39.61 - Richmond Cab (dinner) $35.00 - Chocolates $16.73 - pedicure Gift Certificate $62.00 -Photo Greeting Cards council  $35.00 - ROCKY MOUNTAIN VACATION $58.00 DINNER FOR MAYOR Sjostorm and Spouse.

(The city provided the receipts in June, 2011 one month after Councillor Thapar provided the Check Listing for missing claims) local lunch $33.73 - GM Stadium Canucks game Mayor and Spouse - taxi bill city paid $34.00 - Gift to Priest $52.38 - Hands Free device Mayors cell $125.99 - office supply $13.12 - Fruit Basket $29.99 - local lunch $27.48 - local lunch $50.43 - office supply photo frame $102.93 - Gift $59.06 - frame/cards $33.05 - GIFT $60.00 for WHO? - Bathroom Supplies $27.99 - transit card/city 10.01 - lunch $16.40 -lunch 16.89 -thank you cards $30.21 - Ribbon Firemen’s Gift $3.85 - lunch $36.76 - local GAS $56.00 - TWO CHAIRS AND BENCH $1399.95 - IN ADDITION TO THIS $50.00 per month for electronic allowance (suppose to cover only council members who don’t have cell phone, printing needs). Mayor Sjostorm has city Black Berry paid for average over $100.00 per month which she is not disclosing the bills paid by Public Fund.                                                                                     

These above bills consist of local lunches consumed by the mayor and 4 councillors, Roodenburg, Cave, Couldwell, Oakes.  Few business lunches and the rest is gas within the city, chocolates, gifts, flowers, candies, taxi bills while watching a hockey game, a windshield claim, local mileage, wine, bathroom supplies, office supplies etc. Feb 17, 2010 Mayor Mary traveled with her husband to the Olympics in Vancouver, booked three nights at Westin Hill Hotel for $332.35 a night, totalling $997.05, flew twice to Vancouver within three days $391.30, claimed per diems $578.50 and then accepted 2 tickets from Richmond Oval for herself and her husband Butch, for a value of $700.00 which makes her total expense to the taxpayer of $2666.85.

11.   Perks and gifts: Rocky Mountain Vacations Gold Leaf Package $3652.00 consumed by Mayor Sjostrom and her spouse. The city was billed $58.00 for a meal when this was her vacation. BC Lotto Corp provided 2 tickets for a hockey game in Vancouver; Canucks vs. Ducks consumed by Mayor and her husband…City was billed and paid $34.00 for taxi.  No information provided for rest of the claim. Vancouver Convention Center for BC Liberal Party fundraising Mayor Sjostrom took $350.00 gift from a local forest company, no information on the rest of the claim. Mayor Sjostrom received $400.00 for 2 tickets for Vancouver Canucks from Chris Murdy, City solicitor.  Mayor Sjostrom received from Richmond Oval $700.00 for two tickets.  Total of all gifts $5495.74 were consumed by Mayor Sjostrom and her husband Butch.  No information has been provided as to how the rest of the expenses were paid.

12.   Political Issues - Mayor Sjostrom’s campaign 2008 was financed by Bob Graham, Petro Canada for $5167.61, Ron Rasmussen, city auditor, $500.00 and other city contractors.

13.   October 2008, before the election, Bob Graham, Petro Canada received multi-million dollar contract from a local forest company for three year term. Mary Sjostrom was elected mayor and she changed the policy to give a 1% tax break to industry where 2/3 of the break goes back to West Fraser Mills.

14. In 2011 the City wrote a cheque for $839,217.94 to West Fraser Mills for QRP tax reassessment.  The city lost $683,000.00 out of tax stabilization reserve fund.  The City Manager, John Steyck was preparing an appeal when Councillor Thapar asked to appeal to have the funds returned or reduced.  That report never made it to council for their decision.  This shows how much control Mary Sjostrom has with her executive committee.

15.   Bob Graham, Petro Canada received the city oil and gas contract which Mayor Sjostrom voted on in all three years as mayor.

16.   CITY DEBT AS OF JAN 2012:

        1. RCMP Building: $191,054.03

        2. Fire Truck: $912,345.44

        3. CITY HALL: $5,044,375.41

        4. Soccer Fields: $126,340.87

        5. Johnston Bridge: $767,438.35

              Sub Total : $7,041,554.10

        6. South Hills: 1,704,150.83

        7. South hills: 11 $284,607.59

GRAND TOTAL: $9,030,312.52

Next year will see a potential debt to do Moffat Bridge of $ 3 M if everything stays good.

ALL THE VALUES ARE AS RECEIVED FROM CITY OF QUESNEL. Receipts and Emails are on file for evidences.

Sushil Thapar