Posted October 16, 2013
In a news report published Wednesday in the Guelph Mercury, Mayor Karen Farbridge stated, “the municipality’s operations are transparent and city hall would not oppose scrutiny from anyone”. It was the second response by the Mayor similar to talking points as the first.
She was responding to claims by GrassRoots Guelph, an independent citizen’s organization, that has petitioned the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to conduct an audit of the City of Guelph’s finances and operations.
Well GrassRoots Guelph is anyone; in fact, it is a lot of anyone’s.
So, let’s start with the organics plant. Here are some obvious questions that taxpayers would like answered and the city has refused to reveal:
* Why was this $33 million plant built with a capacity three times the city’s needs for the next 20 years?
* Why are Guelph taxpayers paying for a plant in which the city, or its agent, has sold 66 per cent of its approved annual capacity to the Region of Waterloo?
* In two years since its official opening, why has the plant never reached its operating capacity of processing 30,000 tonnes per year? In 2012 it only processed some 17,000 tonnes.
* How much did the city receive from the sale of some 3,400 tonnes of finished compost sold to an unknown person?
* What are the terms and conditions of contracts entered into between the city and general contractor, Maple Reinders, and its subsidiary companies?
* What are the operating costs of the Organic Waste Processing Facility (OWPF)?
* What is the breakdown of operating costs for the entire waste management facility on Dunlop Road?
* Why does the city continue to approve condominium developments, knowing full well city personnel will not collect the waste generated?
* If the goal of the administration is to divert waste from the landfill, why does it refuse to collect from 6,400 Guelph condo households?
* Why is the $465 per household waste management charge 71.1 per cent greater than its peer group of municipalities?
And there is more, Madame Mayor. Just answering these questions would be a great start to attain your claim that your administration is open and transparent. After more than six years in office. Was it suddenly necessary to hire a Toronto consultant to create an “open and transparent plan” for the city costing $100,000?
Is it any wonder why citizens are dismayed and puzzled by your statements that leave out the pertinent details?
Your statement that the rating company Standard & Poors giving Guelph an AA plus “with a positive outlook” looks silly. Especially when comparing the statement by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation rating Guelph’s financial management with a “D”. This was compared with 19 other similar-sized Ontario municipalities. Guelph ranked 18th in the ranking.
The Mayor says that staff compensation is “considerably lower’ than that claimed by GRG. She is using the base salary figures to make her claim. The true picture is the total compensation that the city pays its employees results in 88 per cent of property tax revenue. Some 173 employees earn more than $100,000 a year in remuneration and taxable benefits.
Again, that figure obtained from the city’ own figures provided to the Province’s “Sunshine List” does not include benefits such as sick leave, overtime, pension, parking, healthcare costs, and insurance that all employees receive as part of their package. In fact there are 24 benefits for city employees.
Guelph taxpayers are entitled to the truth. The Mayor does not help herself when making patently false and misleading statements to deflect serious criticism.
The most laughable is saying the “city would not oppose scrutiny from anyone”.
Does she really believe that has been the case for the past almost seven years?
What do you think?
Not a member of GrassRoots Guelph? Send your name, full address, email address and telephone number to: firstname.lastname@example.org and join the growing ranks of folks who want factual information about how their city is being run.