It seemed like a good idea at the time – Part Two

Members of the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Board of Health (WDGPH), sounded miffed and unimpressed over the city’s decision to return three councillors to the board.

Guelph council asked the health board to hire a mediator to sort out the dirty details involving disputes. Council also wants the board to hire a chief administration officer (CAO) to operate non-health administration duties from the Medical Officer of Health.

Stop right there.  The provincial appointee to represent Guelph, Keith Perron, said that both Mayor Karen Farbridge and Coun. Maggie Laidlaw sat on the board when it had a CAO.  They voted for the Medical Officer of Health and CAO positions to be aligned. The vote was unanimous.

Now they want to change the management structure again?

Now we know that women have been known to change their minds, but this was a monumental reversal that has resulted in thousands of taxpayer’s dollars being spent to dismantle a provincially mandated organization.

No wonder the county board members were ticked off at the city’s attitude and demands.

The WDGPH is the creature of the Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA).

Mayor Farbridge has ensconced herself as chair of the powerful governance committee of council. This means she maintains tight control over all aspects of city business. Her fingerprints are all over City Hall.

But often, as has occurred in the past five years, her judgment is flawed.  A troubling aspect of her management style is a lack of understanding that the budget must be balanced. Her legacy of grandiose projects has driven city debt to unprecedented heights to a point where the city has the ninth highest debt of any comparable city in the country. Operating costs, despite the recession, have soared with Guelph having one of the highest paid city staff in the Province of Ontario.

Reserve funds have been depleted to keep the annual tax increases to at least 3.5 per cent.

Many taxpayers are concerned that future legal costs that are unbudgeted may drive taxes up to meet these unplanned expenses.

The losing attempt to spin off Guelph from the Health Board was denied in the courts and by the Ministry of Health. The legal costs of this have never been revealed.

This is only one example of how the Farbridge administration has bungled relations with its municipal neighbours.

When an administration lacks coherency and transparency, it is time to go.




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