CITY VIEW – Ambush at One Carden Street

Posted April 26, 2013

Two months ago council approved a 2013 budget item of $170,000 to renovate the popular Farmer’s Market this summer. That figure has suddenly zoomed to $500,000.

Now it is revealed the this “life cycle” project will be paid for from the budgets of other, unspecified, “life cycle” projects. All this was accomplished by the staff who ambushed council with a lowball figure to get the Farmer’s Market renovations moving.

Top question being asked is why the sudden increase cost of renovating a building whose days may be numbered, as the Secondary Downtown Plan requires the Market relocated and rebuilt.

More important, why does the staff have authority to make such a decision without council’s approval? There is ample evidence that staff has made other financial decisions without council’s knowledge or approval.

It may lie in the grey area between the Mayor’s and Chief Administration Officer Ann Pappert’s offices in which decisions are fashioned to conform to policies never considered or approved by the electorate. Having a clear majority of Farbridge cohorts on council, allows wide latitude the decisions are made without exposure to the full council.

It is willful to conduct city business this way. The staff did not recommend spending $500,000 on the Farmer’s Market renovations when the 2013 budget was struck. Instead they came up with this cockamamie scheme to take the money from other “life cycle” projects whose budgets had been approved.

It is impossible to believe that the Mayor did not know that the staff increased the Farmer’s Market renovation cost to $500,000. If she claims she was unaware of the increase, she faces a major problem with a staff that feels it can do anything it wants at any time.

And where was Chief Financial Officer Al Horsman when this was going on? When did he know and what did he do about it? Is he not the keeper of the gate in budget matters? If not, what’s the use of even having a budget where there is so much staff freelancing with money happening?

Debate is a thing of the past. Electronic voting has denied taxpayers the voting record of councillors. Sure they can ask the city clerk to breakout the council vote records. But why should they have to do that?

This and other decisions continue to steadily drip eroding any confidence that the taxpayers have in their elected councillors and city staff.



Filed under Between the Lines

9 responses to “CITY VIEW – Ambush at One Carden Street

  1. Glen N. Tolhurst

    The “life cycle” of the tax and spend mayor, and like minded councilors, as well as their administration minions will grind to a halt the day after the next municipal election!

    • Glen N. Tolhurst: I always marvel at this administration’s ability to schmooze and confuse at the same time. They can turn the simplest event into a mind-blowing description that baffles even the smartest among us.

  2. geo

    34% over budget and some councillors are very angry.
    Once their anger subsides perhaps they could get off their collective a**es, assert their authority and make sure this project costs no more then $170,000.
    That is if they want to maintain even a hint of credibility with voters.

  3. Sean

    The more I see it, City Staff have full control over everything and Council has zip

    • Sean: I don’t necessarily blame the city staff for the manipulation of finances but the Farbridge cabal that controls council is responsible. Hopefully, citizens will realize the sloppy and irresponsible way their city is being run and vote them out of office. The key to change is increasing the percentage of eligible voters. In the 2010 municipal election less that 35 per cent of eligible taxpayers bothered to vote.

  4. Jerry

    I understood in the budget process that a motion was passed to see about
    city staff finding a savings of 200,000.It was brought forward by Gloria
    Kovach and passed by council and that is how our tax increase was brought
    down under 3%.Or so i thought. is this not what Mr Horsman called the
    chicken little effect and then the number magically dropped.
    The look at us we saved you so much money?Or the classic “excuse me
    for saving the the taxpayers money”(farbridge quote in the last election).
    Or the other classic of having a transparent government in Guelph.
    I think somebody should send the city staff/mayor a dictionary with the
    word transparent high lighted so she and staff can fully understand
    the word.

    • Jerry:The Farbridge majority practice the art of mushroom politics. First, they create a description of an event that defies logic or understanding. Then, they bury it deep in a dark, cool place treating the peasants like mushrooms blinded with obfuscation and lack of transparency. Result? We’re rarely told the truth except when they want to blow their horn.

  5. geo

    The Farmer’s Market renovation comes in almost triple the amount budgeted which leads me to claim the project is 34% over budget and nobody calls me on it.
    I think there’s a future for me in municipal finance.

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