Snow job

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Hudson side street hours after the season’s first major dump. Throughout this past winter, the only clearing was done by the private driveway contractors concerned about their clients.

If the disbursements for the first two months of 2017 are any indication, Hudson’s spendthrift ways will continue up to November’s municipal election.

And residents who voice their concerns may as well save their breath.

To nobody’s surprise, the big payouts to the town’s legalists Dunton Rainville continued into the New Year. The town cut a cheque for $30,296.73 to cover Drain-the-ville’s representation on 11 files. No indication of whether these are continuations of the golden oldies of the last three years or whether these are new fights that will continue to milk the repaving budget.

I also see the town lost its grudge match against defeated mayoral aspirant Jacques Bourgeois in Small Claims Court, being ordered to pay Bourgeois’s Raris Communications $15,000 and costs. (Echoes of Trump’s ‘see you in court.’) Now, that’s small-town cheap.

Take road salt. In February, supplier Cargill’s bill had topped $155,000. As of the end of February, the town had blown another $46,000.

The record of disbursements tabled at the March council meeting also revealed that the town paid snow clearing contractor Transport André Leroux $87,000 for sand. This was over and above the cost of the base contract, which pays Leroux $399,500 plus taxes in four instalments of $103,348.15.

Worse, the documents show the price was based on a three-year contract with these incompetents with an option to renew for another two years.

More simply, the town leaves it to Leroux to decide how much salt and sand to use and when to use it.

Residents who attended the February meeting will recall councillor Rob Goldenberg and town manager Jean-Pierre Roy vowing to more closely monitor Leroux with regard to its use of salt.

Here’s my two-part question to Goldenberg and Roy:

Given this winter’s atrociously poor snow clearing, what is this administration proposing to do to correct the situation for the next two winters?

What was the average total cost of snow removal, salt and sand over the previous three winters? If my suspicions are correct, this administration has managed to stick Hudson residents with two more winters of botched snow removal at greater cost than if they had renewed with Gruenwald.

Long after November’s municipal election, this administration’s legacy of bad decisions will live on. In that respect, they’re no different that the bunch they replaced. What a surprise.

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13 thoughts on “Snow job

  1. Welcome home Jim,

    Suzanne and I witness first hand a few weeks ago the waste and destruction that the snowplow company has caused. We were coming back towards town on Main Road from Alstonvale and we were following a snowplow, the roads were clear and I mean clear, no ice or snow. This guy had his plow down and was pounding the asphalt as he moved along, the whole time he was dropping sand! A ton of it! We figured he would be trying to widen the road by getting close to the edge but nope just kept on scrapping pavement and dropping sand for absolutely no freakin reason! We couldn’t understand but now of course we get it, just more bloody waste.

    At the meeting last week, they announced a plan to renovate the community center for 550k which will include a grant of 250k, the rest is in the form of a loan!!The council mentioned the floor and windows in the meeting hall as part of the renos. I got up during question period and asked what the hell is wrong with the white pvc guillotine windows and this floor I am standing on??? No good answer. Anyway I have asked for the list of renos, I will do my own assessment and get back to the citizens at the next meeting. Peter Ratcliff has said it best somewhere in your blog, “IF I WAS MAYOR I WOULD NOT SPEND ONE DIME WE DID NOT HAVE” Amen. Welcome home again 🙂

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  2. I understand that the horrible 2017-2019 snow removal contractor was the lowest bidder of only one bidder.

    Apparently Gruenwald wasn’t interested, and no others were.

    I wonder why? Is it collusion of bidders or are we just not a good potential customer?

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  3. Well Jim, you missed the last council meeting where there was a general consensus amongst council members that this was indeed the worst year in the history of Hudson for snow removal, and I agree.

    The town had to come and take pictures at my place on lower whitlock, and he passed with a snow blower at 3am and blew all the snow, sand, salt way up onto the properties and driveways, all over the cars.. a solid 25 feet from the road. My Jeep isn’t even 5 months old. Can you imagine how unimpressed I was to have rocks blown all over it?

    I see the community center is up here. And I’m absolutely for spending 250,000 with a matched 250,000 from the Canada 150 fund. The reasons I heard were very different. Making a ramp to access the basement, so the not phisically able could go down to the basement. Brining the kitchen up to code… Surely we remember what happens when Hudson operates things that aren’t to code.. I was in there less then 10 seconds and noticed two violations. The tiles are scratched to shit and it is very evident. I could go down to the bank and have 250,000$ by Friday 5pm. This seems to be a mountain out of a molehill, and if the federal government is interested in investing in our community center, so be it.

    Back to snow removal– Steve Greuwnwald got rid of his snow removal equipment. He also bought Crevier, the other sewage company. I don’t know own if that played a role, but he seems to be more focused on poop.

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    1. $555,000 for a new kitchen and a wheelchair ramp? Wow, scratched tiles! What horror! Nobody from the town bothering to tail Leroux from Day 1 of the season to ensure they know what’s expected of them? Maybe this works for you, pal. Not for me. All I see any more is how easily this admin writes cheques to whatever squeaky wheel needs greasing. Guess I’m just tired of subsidizing Spend-and-bend Ville. I can tell you I’m not alone.

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      1. Did you ever look up in the community center… Those age old incandescent are 500W a piece. There is 10KW of electricity being used just on lighting in that big room. So that is put into perspective, every single street light on main road from end to end doesn’t add up to 10KW in consumption. So yes, it’s high times for upgrades. The hydro bill for the community center is 52,000$ a year.

        You may not like the kitchen being not being up to code, but the fact is it isn’t. What’s going to happen if the CNSST decides to do a surprise inspection? You think it’s going to cost less then 250,000$ after fines and obligatory repairs? No way.

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    2. I’m all for upgrading or improving things that need to be changed but if the windows and floors in the meeting room are still in good shape and they are considered, then what else falls into the bizarro world of renovations. It’s not like the city has the capital to spend, they are going to borrow their share.

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  4. There was some talk at council level about doing snow removal in house as in buying our own trucks and using works personnel. I used to think out sourcing was a good idea for towns on things like grass cutting because Donald Major used to do some of it and he was really conscientious but that trait seems in shorter and shorter supply when it comes to subcontractors. On the other hand our guys in public works are unionized and probably cost more than the “drivers?” working for our current snow removal guy so it would probably end up more. We got spoiled by Hans.

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  5. “Free” money via grants is a feel good political mind trap that’s hard to resist. We look for things we wouldn’t put at top priority and spend twice as much as if they were a priority because half of it is coming back to us by way of a grant.

    Everyone seems to forget that the grant money came from taxes run through expensive bureaucracy promoting the good will of the people towards a sitting government.

    Forget about applications and management, to really do good, better to just give every community a one time stipend per citizen to be spent on the highest priority need in the community. But then you miss all the politics.

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  6. Agreed. When we get a grant from Provs or Feds it just means some poor schmuck town somewhere else gets less of what they need because they didn’t know the right avenues or lobbyists . It’s a political game indeed as old as time to scramble and dance for our share of the crumbs .

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    1. Regularly, the bank sends me an offer of cheap credit. Doesn’t mean I’m obliged to accept the offer. Hudson has to start living within its means even if it means putting up with unfashionable linoleum and ply wheelchair ramps. Lights? I’ll bet our excellent local electrician could change them out for new LED bulbs at a fraction of the cost.

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  7. Jim you’re simply missing the spirit that enables collusion.

    We’d have to hire a consultant to do an energy audit and study to determine which light bulbs were consuming the most power.

    Then an engineering consultant to draft the project specification, use our hired grant proposal writer to get refuse funding because we can’t prove we know that it’s a priority, go to tender anyway, take the lowest bidder and pay ten or a hundred times what it would cost to favour a local electrician with solid knowledge.

    Or we just be cheap and pay for it ourselves, determine the best cost and energy efficient replacement fixture and bulbs and simply acquire them and install them as maintenance a few fixtures at a time and maybe save a pile of money simply.

    If we emailed the specs on the current fixture to ten LED fixture manufacturers and asked for an equivalent light output, cost of fixture and we could estimate energy savings and buy the right fixtures.

    But that would take guidance to tell someone to do it.

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