The Marx brothers would have loved Guelph’s 2013 budget process

Posted December 13, 2012

When Coun. Gloria Kovach stepped up to the plate with her $500,000 staff efficiency idea that was like using a knife in a gunfight. In some ways it was a clever move to bounce the property tax increase below three per cent.

Its weakness is letting the staff come up with the “efficiencies” to lower 2013 spending. It was like handing a cannon ball to a drowning man.  It failed to address the most costly part of the budget  such as staff salaries, wages and benefits that consumed 89 per cent of the 2011 tax levy.

Compounding the problem is that police and firemen contracts are up for renewal in 2013 This is the same senior staff that proposed an 8.5 per cent 2013 property tax increase last June.  Council is now entrusting them to come up with $500,000 in savings over the next year.

The most irritating cost saving decision was stopping the Christmas tree pick-up. The savings is $22,000. That’s a miniscule number in a 2013 budget of $184,000,000. But it manages to tick citizens off and they’ll blame councillors as they truck the stuff to the organic waste transfer point.

Does Guelph have a “world class” waste management system?  Presuming that waste management includes picking up the waste of all taxpayers, it comes as no surprise that hundreds of homes in the city have to pay contractors to remove their trash. That’s because the city refuses to perform its service for a number of reasons. The city still charges them on their tax bill for waste pick-up.

The irony is that much of that private pick-up is never sorted but is trundled to the landfill.

Now we move into the big time. Council still approved hiring more people after it was revealed that the official city financial statement in 2011 said the civic staff costs were $155 million of the $174 million budget.

Adding more staff, particularly when there are more than 35 unfilled jobs pointing to a lack of confidence of the city’s employment policies. Even more interesting is the proposal to offer more than $79,000 for a custodial job at the provincial courthouse. Or, how about offering more than $80,000 for a “coordinator of some 23 crossing guards?”

These aren’t phantom jobs. They are indicative of the splurge by staff and its compliant majority of council who have little regard for cost control or the ability of the taxpayers to pay.

It’s interesting that Mayor Karen Farbridge spent some $87,000 in her 2010 re-election campaign. Her main opponent spent 1/10th of that and still received close to 11,000 votes. Most of the source of that funding was support for her and her cohorts on council, by the unions.

If ever organized labour needed to protect its principles, it lay in supporting like-minded councillors. And, that has been the case since 2006.

Employee costs have soared by 65.1 per cent in five years. Compare that to nearby peer cities whose employee costs increased collectively by 43 per cent in the same time frame.

The cost of doing business in 2012 has not been determined yet. And already council has approved adding more staff for 2013.

It’s time to take back our city.


Filed under Between the Lines

9 responses to “The Marx brothers would have loved Guelph’s 2013 budget process

  1. Jeff Burke

    Christmas trees? All in favor of the 1950’s plan for disposal— a honkin’ big bonfire in Royal City Park on New Year’s Day!
    Oh, the carbon dioxidity!!

  2. joseph paul phelan

    Love the bon fire idea at Royal City Park on New Years Day…..I can think of one fat overpaid little piggy in particular I would like to see roasting on a spit in that fire.

    • Serious Taxpayer

      If you look at the message posted by Guelph Speaks, you will see that you are overlooking the meat of the issue, Guelph City Council are complete and utter fools under the spell of senior management. And who got rid of a number of senior people and replaced them with “fans of the vision”?- You guessed it -the Mayor, numero uno with her gaggle of geese!
      Eliminating the Xmas tree pickup for a savings of $ 22,000 was peanuts in the city budget, Especially when they voted to sprnd over 3 millions to ensure property for an oversized 92,000 sq. ft. Library which is not a necessity..
      Let me see – $22,000 cut
      $ 63,000,000 committed! WOW! Guess who really should be Committed?
      And onit goes>

  3. joseph paul phelan

    Funny how they can spend that much money on a library that really isn’t needed not to mention that I have a sneaky suspicion that the commander in chief has difficulty with reading comprehension and math as do her cronies…I hope they make good use of the library….may be a good place for them to be quiet and not heard from.

  4. geo

    The City hired a consultant to find out why the new transit system, which was created by a consultant, doesn’t work. No I’m not kidding.
    After reading this I’ve come up with a plan to slash municipal taxes.
    1) Eliminate all City Staff.
    2) Elect one person whose one and only task is to bring in a consultant . when the City needs to get something done.
    This way you eliminate the middle man (staff) and even if our one elected official makes $1,000,000 a year and every consultant takes us to the cleaners every time taxes could still go down 85%

  5. geo

    I think I’ll hire a consultant to look into it.

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