Is this the end of the beginning of taxpayer discontent?

Posted November 25, 2012

Thursday evening, November 29, will be remembered as the beginning of the citizen revolt against the City of Guelph council’s mismanagement of the public trust.

So far, more than 17 citizens have applied and received approval to address council regarding the 2013 budget.

The mounting number of protests is magnified in the letters to the editor in the print media. Likewise, citizen comments to guelphspeaks in recent weeks indicate the growing disenchantment and distrust with the administration under the leadership of Mayor Karen Farbridge.

The energy of protest is multiplying as details of the proposed budget are revealed.

It started last June when the staff produced a budget for 2013 requiring an 8.5 per cent increase in property taxes in the city. Council requested the staff to come back with a property tax increase of not more than 3 per cent.

Public confidence in the process eroded when Ann Pappert, the Chief Administration Officer for the city, complained that council’s request was “Regressive” and “Unpalatable.”

These statements coming from the head of the city staff ignited the public interest. The questions being asked included, who is in charge of running the city? Is council just a rubber stamp for staff-driven policies? Where is the base of power in the city, does it rest with the staff or the elected representatives of council?

Then a 2013 staff-initiated budget document of more than 300 pages was put on the city website. It was a breakdown of spending that included drastic cuts in services plus, ironically, adding 23 new full-time employees to the already bloated staff.

On Thursday, a presenter will reveal data about the growth of staff between 2006 and 2011 during the Farbridge administration’s control of council.

One figure will chill any relationship between council and the taxpayers who elected them.

Fact: The cost of city staff’s salaries, wages and benefits rose by 68.1 per cent between 2006 and 2011. That works out to 10.9 per cent per year.

There is more devastating evidence of mismanagement to come from various spokespersons addressing the meeting, supported by facts and figures from city and public documents.

It is important for citizens to either attend the Thursday night council meeting or watch the proceedings on cable television. It is an opportunity to learn the truth about how their city has been taken down a financial path that few voted for in the 2010 election.

The cumulative misguided approach of the Farbridge dominated council in the past six years renders confidence lost and dismay is prevalent among voters.

It’s all about a misuse of power to support personal agendas that have created capital project costs that future generations will have to carry. It also binds future councils with a debt load that is unsustainable to provide basic services to the public.

You, the public, provide 94 per cent of the total revenue of the city. There is no magic bullet to overcome excessive and wasteful spending, except political action..

Secrecy, closed-door meetings, controlling the message (i.e. propaganda), withholding details of public contracts, these are the hallmarks of a Farbridge administration.

As Winston Churchill was quoted, following the Battle of Britain: “This is not the beginning of the end it is the end of the beginning.”

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5 Comments

Filed under Between the Lines

5 responses to “Is this the end of the beginning of taxpayer discontent?

  1. Glen N. Tolhurst

    If one was to take a look at the latest inflation rates, the rampant spending increases by the current city administration become glaringly obvious as is their unsustainability. What a sad legacy for the council and burden for the taxpayers.

  2. Pingback: Is this the end of the beginning of taxpayer discontent? - Cambridge Advocate

  3. geo

    I’m bending over backwards trying to get back to where I was before 2008 and can’t yet afford to restart contributions to an RRSP but my municipal taxes are going up way beyond the rate of inflation yet again all in the name of guaranteeing some more over paid city staff a sweetheart pension!
    Come age 67 ( I won’t be retiring at 58) I think I’m going to live at City Hall. I here they have lots of extra rooms, free showers free parking, free swimming and free skating.

  4. Jeff Burke

    58? geo, do you mention that b/c that’s the average age of retirement of OMERS staff, right? How about no OMERS pensions paid until they reach pensioniable years… ie. 67, LIKE THE REST OF US.
    My OAS will not cover my property taxes, IF I can retire at 65— who am I going to sell my house to… there won’t be enough pensioned off civil servants to keep the prices up.

  5. geo

    A gargantuan civil service that wants keep on keepin’ on like it’s 1999 forever.If this doesn’t change ( a smaller service or a service that accepts wage decreases or perhaps both) then Ontario’s chances of being competitive in today’s world are equal to the chance that we’ll hear the unvarnished truth about Guelph’s economy from Her Royal Highness The Queen Farbridge..

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