Posted September 27, 2012
The chickens are coming home to roost
When the University of Guelph announces it faces a budget shortfall over four years of $34 million, you know that the city is not far behind the economic squeeze of rising costs and lower revenues.
Some of this is due to unbridled ideological spending. The jig is up when the city staff recommends a 8.5 per cent property tax increase for 2013. When Coun. Guthrie challenges the staff for complaining about invoking a 3 per cent plan, he gets lambasted by Coun. Ian Findlay who suggests it’s a transgression that calls for the Integrity Commissioner to adjudicate.
He’s kidding, right?
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Police crack down on U of G homecoming illegal drinking
It’s comforting to realize that Guelph Police are doing a great job in civilizing the rowdiness of homecoming weekend. Similarly, the current efforts to curb excessive behaviour downtown, appears to be resolving some of the issues that made the area a hellhole on weekends.
The irony is the University still closes its pubs on weekends. That forces students to express their party animal instincts on the public streets of Guelph.
The effort of the police department is stretching resources to the limit. Busting up the neighbourhood “Keggers” those who sell beer from garages, often in single-family areas, is great police work.
Kudos to Chief Larkin, his officers and by-law enforcement officers.
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City public relations machine working overtime
The bins are coming! The bins are coming! The bins are coming! This is Guelph 2012 not Lexington 1775. For $15 million the public deserves better. Instead of committing to this costly system, there were other options. Also would it not have made sense to test this system to determine if it warranted the huge expenditure?
Personally, I cannot understand why the city sent us a “bin how to” brochure package when it refuses to pick up our waste. There are areas in the city that pay for waste pick-up through their taxes but don’t get the service.
But we still get the propaganda.
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Things are not going well on the legal front
Case One: The effort by the city legal staff to mediate the $19 million dispute between the city and Urbacon Buildings Group has foundered. After two days of testimony before a retired judge acting as private mediator, the exercise failed. In January 2013, the case will go to civil court for judgment. There is a slim chance a settlement can still be reached, but after two days of testimony it is unlikely.
Case Two: The Ontario Municipal Board hearing, heard from the University of Guelph’s chief financial officer, that the proposed Abode Varsity Living proposal was competition to the University’s housing plan. Further he testified that the university cannot fill its some 5,300 on-campus residences.
So let’s get this straight: the University cannot find enough students to fill its accommodation but wants to buy the Abode site to create more housing for female students. What in heck has this to do with alleged improper planning? The city staff convinced council to oppose the proposed twin-tower development, as it was not a fit for the neighbourhood. Having a motel there is okay, it appears.
Do you get the feeling this has nothing to do with planning but a lot to do with what the university wants?
As manager of U of G residences, is Coun. Leanne Piper in the thick of all this?
Case Three: The Ontario Ministry of Labour is suing the city as a result of the washroom wall that collapsed killing a 14-year-old student. This is a messy business. The city has settled with the family. The architect and engineer have both been acquitted of liability. The Ministry is appealing the judge’s decision in that case.
The basis of the Ministry’s suit is that the city was negligent in maintaining the washroom where the death occurred. Judgment is this case is expected in December.
These are just three legal cases that the taxpayers must cover. The result can be devastating to the city-operating budget.
It’s your money.
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What are the costs that are buried in the multi-page city annual budget that the average taxpayer does not receive or is unable to digest?
What are the operating costs of the Sleeman Centre and River Run theatre?
What is the total of outside consulting fees paid by the city in 2011?
How much does it cost to operate the civic museum and McRae House?
How much has the city spent developing the Hanlon Business Park?
What is the cost of operating the $34 million compost plant?
These are just some of the many questions that taxpayers have the right to know.
Unfortunately, this administration is expert at lying by omission, failing to communicate facts to the public, producing a financial statement that the public cannot understand, holding secret meetings with the Farbridge supporters without public exposure.
This last critique is that the five members of council who are not part of the Mayor’s majority are not included in these meetings. It is also unlawful under the Ontario Municipal Act.
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Why is the Farbridge administration afraid of Cam Guthrie?
The arguments range far and wide. He’s too young. He’s inexperienced. He speaks before his brain starts working.
All ill-informed and cruel descriptions of a councillor who understands how this city has been mismanaged for six years. He knows now what has happened and how it must be fixed. But the Farbridge majority collective discredit him every chance they get.
Why? Because they see him as the catalyst that will awake the citizens to take another course for reform, responsibility and resolve for change.
Whether it’s Cam Guthrie or a tidal wave of rejection of this majority dictatorship, remains to be seen in 2014.
But the tsunami of rejection is gathering.
And the Farbridge controlled administration understands this already.