Potpourri – Part Two

Posted October 20, 2012

It takes a city to make a village

Did you ever wonder who decided that Guelph would be the capital of waste management in the country?

No? Neither did the more than 14,000 voters in 2010 that re-elected Mayor Karen Farbridge and her majority of Council followers.

Was it ever determined that they had the right to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to create a web of waste disposal facilities that converted all manner of waste? Did taxpayers agree that we would service the needs of other municipalities?

This includes 60,000 tonnes of household and commercial wet waste. Then there is dry waste or recyclables that is drying up feedstock because of a superior operation in Cambridge that is automated to handle dry waste at half the cost.. Next comes the sewage sludge, the by-product of 20,000 tonnes of treated sewage, which must be disposed.

So, your council, in just six years, has managed to spend more than $75 million to achieve the majority of council’s goals of misguided sustainability.

Example: Spend $34 million on building an organic composting plant with a partner, Maple Reinders, that is six times the required capacity of Guelph’s wet waste requirement. Then spend another $15 million on a waste collection system. But don’t reveal the details of the contract or the costs

Throw in the plant that has yet to reach operational capacity despite delivering some 1,300 tonnes of compost, none of which was sourced from Guelph. Whose wet waste went in there?

It’s not over. The city plans on spending another $20 million of special glass-lined stainless steel storage tanks to store the sewage sludge generated over the cold months. Then enters a deal with Lystek, the human waste fertilizer company from Cambridge, to “re-water the sludge” and spread it on agricultural lands as fertilizer. How they do that is disgusting, using hot human waste from outside sources.

Is this what you voted for?

*            *            *            *            *

The attack of the ash tree borers

You gotta love it. Who doesn’t like trees? Guelph has some great areas where trees form a delicious canopy to give us comfort of shade and protection from the sun’s rays and absorb the carbon emissions of our society.

Taxpayers should applaud the work of stopping the infection of the insects on ash trees. But that’s not the only brand of tree in the city. Our city is populated with trees of many species.

Why then is it necessary to hire four, full time employees to cope with protecting a single species?

The committee responsible for this idiotic request moved it up to council for approval.

Are none of them listening to the rumble of discontent about the high costs of civic employees across the province and Canada?

To make the argument that the committee wants to see Guelph from space as a forest, is ludicrous and typical of the agenda of the Farbridge administration.

As Oliver Twist said: “More, please.”

*            *            *            *            *

How we taxpayers were disadvantaged

Most taxpayers are wondering: ”What happened?

In 2010, Guelph voters elected Mayor Karen Farbridge and a slim majority of her followers. The key, included an artful political move was to persuade Conservative Todd Dennis to join her majority. This gave her complete control of council with an majority of eight supporters, to five councillors who were elected to change the direction the Farbridge administration was taking the city.

The Dennis defection, after proclaiming he was dedicated to reducing taxes and establishing a recreation centre in the growing South End of the city, turned out to be a sham.

That has not happened. And those voters in Ward Six should take note for the municipal election in 2014. Dennis masqueraded as a conservative but joined the Farbridge team in a New York minute. These are the same councillors who proceeded to ladle more tax money on their specious projects, regardless of the consequences of future needs of the city.

Here are the three reasons why we have a tainted public administration.

1.  Those with power – politicians, police and bureaucrats – don’t believe they should share that power. In their sphere of controlling influence,  they dismiss the rights of citizens to share that power.

2.  Those in power frequently dismiss those who oppose and complain. They label thee objectors in a pejorative way and use surrogates to attack those objectors as ignorant, dangerous and out of touch.

Is this starting to sound familiar? Think of the tactics used by the Farbridge supporters in the last two elections.

3.  Citizens must use the tools they possess to keep true democracy alive in their community. This includes solidarity, standing up to authority and researching their objections of the course taken in their society

This is a mirror image of the civic Guelph political scene. Power is absolute.  Only the people can change it.

Reform must come and the people sense it.

*            *            *            *            *

Civic salary creep commits Guelph taxpayers to future uncontrollable costs

A recent post compared the salary of the Chairman of the Regional Municipality of York to the Chief Administration Officer (CAO) of Guelph. The chairman is unelected as is the CAO.

The York guy made $207,654 in 2011. He presides over 1.1 million people and nine municipalities with nine councils.

Guelph CAO, Ann Pappert, presides over a city of 122,000 and earns $191,000 per year.

This is a base example how the Farbridge administration has escalated senior staff salaries and benefits in the past six years. The problem lies with the arbitrators who decide these increases  and they are the city staff itself.

These decisions to consistently increase staff compensation have resulted in an exponential flood of costs to the taxpayers.

As a result, Guelph’s annual budget is now composed of 89 per cent being paid out for staff salaries, wages and, simply extraordinary benefits.

Want a comparison? The City of Waterloo pays 56.6 per cent of its budget for staff costs..

Is there a plumber in the house?

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22 Comments

Filed under Between the Lines

22 responses to “Potpourri – Part Two

  1. Jeff Burke

    This takes a while to load, and City of Guelph is at the bottom of the page— the sunshine list for 2012— I wish I knew how many non-public sector people in Guelph earned more than 100K in 2012…
    http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/publications/salarydisclosure/2012/munic12a.html
    Wow… police constable…

    • Jeff Burke: Can’t tell you how many in the private sector in Guelph make more than $100,000 a year. I can tell you that the city employs 129 staffers who all make more than $100,000 a year plus taxable benefits.

  2. rena

    And we wonder why so many people are coming from outside of Guelph to work at our City Hall, but do they actually live here?

  3. geo

    Our $200,000 CAO doesn’t live hear.

  4. geo

    sorry meant “here”

  5. Glen N. Tolhurst

    It’s time to “red circle” the high priced help, such as the CAO, with no increases, bonus, or increases in benefits for the duration of the incumbent’s occupancy in their positions. Hopefully they’ll get disgruntled and leave. Then, if & when the positions are filled, the remuneration should be at 65% of the current rate and for a fixed term. A smattering of sanity in salary levels in the administration is long overdue.

    • Glen N. Tolhurst: Yeah! Like that’s going to happen. The recent vote of council to sanctify the staff with a 12 – 0 motion, signals the grip of the city’s business resting exclusively with the staff and its Gang of Eight masters. The motion by Coun. Ian Findlay chastised Coun. Guthrie for having the nerve to criticize the staff. The odd thing was Guthrie voted for the motion. Only in Guelph, you say?

  6. Looking for Facts

    Gerry,

    Would you be able to provide the source for your claim that the new organic facility is built to handle 6 times our current needs? Thank you

    • Looking for facts:The plant is built to handle 60,000 tonnes of wet waste per year. Guelph generates 10,000 tones. Its agent, Aim Environmental, a subsidiary of Maple Reinders the designer and contractor of the facility, has contracted with the Regional Municipality of Waterloo to process another 20,000 tones. That leaves 30,000 tons additional capacity to attract future business. The source includes the two local papers, the Guelph Waste Coalition and my own contacts.Hope this helps.

  7. Looking for Facts

    Thanks Gerry. Everything I have read says the facility has a 30,000 ton capacity. Would you be able to provide a link to either the Mercury or the City where it shows 60,000?

    Thank you

    • Looking for facts: Contact the Guelph Waste Management coalition. Two of their members serve on the Public Advisory Committee. The PAC was formed by the city to oversee the operation. Also the Ministry of Environment, is a source as it has to approve all aspects of design, construction and capacity.

  8. Looking for Facts

    Gerry : I think the organic facility was a terrible idea. However, it is important that misinformation doesn’t cloud the issue. The facility was built to process 30,000 tons. When you report incorrect information, you loose credibility. You were the one that reported it can process 60,000 – so I respectfully suggest you provide the source or simply correct your mistake.

  9. Deer in Headlights

    That’s exactly why Gerry is no longer with the Mercury. Everything is made up. Can’t wait to see his response. He needs to be called more often.

    • Deer in the Headlights: I guess the Farbridge trolls are coming out of the woodwork. Obviously, you don’t know much about me. I don’t make things up. Don’t have to. This secretive control group in council provides more managed news fodder than I can handle. Much of it is not news but public relations. We taxpayers are told what they want us to know, not what we need to know. Thank you for personally attacking me as it indicates I am hitting home with my commentary. Meanwhile hide behind the pseudonym, it makes your credibility suspect.

  10. Glen N. Tolhurst

    I have trouble believing “factoids” / blather from people who don’t have the gumption to stand up and use their name on their comments as they attack others. Keep up the good work Gerry!

  11. Deer in Headlights

    Gerry: You are a little sensitive today. All you are being asked to do is provide the facts behind your 60,000 ton claim. You don’t need to call people trolls for asking you to back up your claim. Here is the City’s version http://guelph.ca/newsroom_display.cfm?itemID=78503 – they say it can only handle 30,000 tonnes of waste. You have said many many times it was built to handle 60,000 tonnes of waste. I say you are making that up. Please prove me wrong.

    • Deer in Headlights: I have already supplied the sources. If you don’t want to believe them, that’s your choice. By the way, where have you been for the past four years? Which deer are you? Deer One or Deer Two?

  12. Deer in Headlights

    That’s sad. Saying someone told you isn’t much of a source. The facility can only handle 30,000. There is a difference betweeen a CofA maximum and the physical capacity of a building – you should do a little more research. If you correct your statement, I will leave you alone.

    • Deer in Headlights: If you are so sure of the designed plant capacity, show me the evidence. The C of A is the approval for the capacity as laid out by the city and its partner, Aim Environmental Group operators of the plant. This outfit sells the composted material and has rights to sell capacity. Wait for the other shoe to drop.

  13. Glen N. Tolhurst

    Wow, DIH says correct your statement & he will leave you alone. Sounds a lot like harassment.

  14. Deer in Headlights

    Gerry: I have put a few references below but will provide more if required. So I will suggest again that you either correct this obvious mistake or provide a reference to something that says the facility was designed to accomodate 60,000 tonnes. Supporting misinformation is not very professional.

    Glen: Sorry, I didn’t mean to harass. Gerry’s columns tend to be full of erroneous information. If he retracts this obvious mistake (which is repeated throughout his blog), I won’t bother asking him about his other mistakes. Is that nicer?

    http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/854051/maple-reinders-completes-state-of-the-art-organic-waste-processing-facility-for-the-city-of-guelph

    http://dcnonl.com/article/id47239/–maple-reinders-uses-gold-seal-certified-staff-to-build-guelph-ontario-compost-plant

    http://www.guelphtribune.ca/news/city-outlines-compost-facility-costs/

    http://www.journalofcommerce.com/article/id47656

    http://www.pcl.com/News-And-Media/News-Releases/Documents/CDBI%20Award%20of%20Excellence%20-%202012%20CDBI%20News%20Release.pdf

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