taking on water

At the March 26th Aurora council meeting Smart Commute came begging for $10,000.

They did so in 2011 and were approved, despite my budget presentation which I commented on here:
http://christopherwatts.posterous.com/anyone-notice-how-the-word-discretionary-prec

Something must have sunk in throughout the course of the year though because in 2012 when they made the same presentation they were thankfully denied: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2012/01/26/smart-commute-dumb-commuters/

On Tuesday night, after a lengthy and rather meaningless power-point presentation intended to wow council with statistics and KPIs of reduced emissions, that are impossible to accurately quantify, some real numbers were disclosed.

As she did in 2012 Clr. Buck inquired as to the percentage of Smart Commute’s operating budget that goes to pay for staff.

The figure provided in 2012 was over 50%.

This was one statistic that was not readily available, but after a little number crunching at the podium we learn that Smart Commute cost over $194,000 to run last year. $126,000 of that went to the salaries benefits and incidentals of 3 staff members, placing the direct spend on staff at 62%.

WTF?

Not only does it cost an unreasonable amount to run what should be a small and agile program, staff costs have actually increased by 10% in one year.

No wonder they are out begging for money, for an outfit that preaches sustainability their fiscal model is woefully unsustainable, and basically boils down to hitting up the same tax base on the provincial and multiple levels hoping that they can get them to double down.

KPIs presented were not broken down by community, so attempts by the audience to decipher the impact on Aurora from the overall region was impossible. That said State Farm, being the biggest, perhaps only corporate participant, seems to make up the bulk of the carpooling numbers in town.

Which begs the question, if State Farm is already engaged, what ongoing benefit does Smart Commute add? Awarding a cheesy clip art gold medal award for their continued efforts?

There is nothing I can see that Smart Commute offers that the Town of Aurora, or the Region itself is incapable of. In fact I think the town is in a way greater position to engage residents and businesses to advocate the same end goals that Smart Commute is doing.

Instead of handing over any money to Smart Commute the smart thing would be to review existing budget allocations to environmentally sustainable initiatives and see what impact they are having, and what can be strengthened.

Smart Commute’s message may be smart, however they seem to be woefully ignorant as to how to execute their business in a sustainable fashion proving Don Herold’s assertion that "it takes a lot of things to prove you are smart, but only one thing to prove you are ignorant."

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