Letter on controlling spending truly hit home

Hamilton Spectator - February 15, 2003 Robert (Bob) A. Beyette

Accolades to the Feb. 8 letter "we must control spending" letter from Frank Gue.

As always, Gue's published view allows for enhanced thought processing by other readers.

I applaud his use of the term "total life cycle" as it relates to measuring all projected costs against projected total benefit of an initiative when governments consider spending taxpayers' money. Yardsticking "life cycle costs" to "life cycle benefits" might show that a few benefit at the cost of the many.

We understand and accept social conscience projects, but surely, not all projects fit into this category.

I would truly enjoy seeing this "best for all taxpayers" analysis done before any government project moves ahead. As in business, a Return on Investment (ROI) calculation needs to be completed before decisions are made to move forward.

These analyses would allow governments to better identify more cost effective solutions at planning phase, rather than at the overspent phase, which is apparently the norm.

For example, take a look at the government boondoggle happening regarding the mid-peninsula transportation corridor for the proposed highway atop "our" protected Niagara Escarpment.

The MTO suggests this proposed highway will cost somewhere between $1.2 to $1.5 billion.

Using Gue's "total life cycle" costing approach, are we now looking more to spending $2.5 to $3.5 billion of taxpayers' hard earned dollars? Truth needs to be on the table.

More than likely the "total life cycle" analysis will reflect a non-ROI result and clearly show that though all taxpayers will pay one way or the other, only a few will benefit. Where is the ROI? Will this proposed highway in 10 years look like the current 407 highway privatization scandal?

Before jumping the gun on this costly proposed highway exercise, the MTO must be patient until such time as the Smart Growth Panels have reported and the MTO has demonstrated that it will respect Smart Growth principles -- the environment, the inputs from stakeholders and the policies of other levels of government, when formulating transportation policy and planning.

All of us, hopefully, you as a reader too, must call on the MTO to recognize that a forward-looking and responsible transportation strategy for the province will encompass rail, transit, marine improvements to existing structures and other transport modes as well, as new and very costly roadways.

Within the intelligent thinking process of needed transportation solutions, the "total life cycle" costing approach must be harnessed to best define taxpayers' ability to pay options.

Thank you Frank Gue of Burlington. Your thoughts truly hit home.

-- Robert (Bob) A. Beyette
Campbellville

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