Posted February 27, 2014
It was worthy of an academy award performance.
The spokesperson for the Farbridge administration, Chief Administration Officer (CAO), Ann Pappert, lashed out at GrassRoots Guelph (GRG) yesterday for having the temerity to dispute the city’s own financial statements.
She said that GRG chose to ignore financial facts. Really? Ministry staff in a meeting with the GRG delegation, verified the contents of the petition’s numerical claims.
This is coming from a CAO who has no professional designation in finances?
Ms. Pappert claims the city is in a strong financial position and getting stronger. GRG disagrees and has the numbers to prove it. When you charge taxpayers excessive rates on property and user fees to pay for misguided and self-serving adventures, you have no alternative but to raise taxes.
For 2014, the city announced a property tax increase of 2.37 per cent. It failed to include the rise in those taxes caused by increased assessment. The real charge to ratepayers is 4.36 per cent, one of the highest rates of any municipality in Ontario.
Pappert parrots the administration line that GRG is wrong -headed about its claims of financial mismanagement of the city. Indeed, GRG exposed how the city financial people have inaccurately forecasted revenues and expenditures for three years, from 2010 to 2012.
But you won’t hear about that because it’s embarrassing and indicative of the way the administration runs our city. Recall the saying: What they don’t know, won’t hurt them?
The official city financials showed that more than $24 million exceeded official budgets over three years. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) did not dispute those figures. Yet the CAO charged GRG “use(d) blatant misinformation” to attack the reputation of the city administration.
Methinks the lady doth protest too much.
The Mayor was AWOL except for a brief comment on her blog. So, frequently the Mayor trots out her CAO to represent the administration’s position.
A few years ago, transparency and openness of operations, was non-existent. It was a time that prompted a number of citizens to band together to question the closed-door decisions by the Farbridge administration.
The turning point was the $53 million spent on a waste collection and composting of organic material system, that was foisted on the citizens.
Without going into the details of this failed experiment, the 2010 Financial Information Report submitted to the province, schedule 51, stated the valuation of the gross waste management plant was $40,973,923 with a depreciation of $3,857,031. In 2011, the plant value rose to $69,308,440. Depreciation declined to $3,182,558. In 2012, the schedule 51 report stated the plant value was $76,407,350 and depreciation was $4,146,577.
Do you think GRG made these figures up?
The three-year increase of plant evaluation was 86 per cent. In the same period the depreciation increase was only 7 per cent. In responsible accounting circles this could be described as “cooking the books.”
What difference does this make in the overall city finances? Well, it allows the city’s financial staff to inflate the asset side of the corporate ledger to balance the books as required by provincial law.
Was the CAO involved in this charade? If not, she should have been. Was the mayor signing off on this make-believe move to meet provincial regulations?
These are some of the questions that GRG asked the MMAH to investigate. Instead, it passed by handing it over to the same people who have perpetrated this financial maze, misrepresenting the city’s finances.
There are many reasons for citizens to be concerned about the management of their city. GRG will continue to reveal the excesses, misrepresentations and propaganda designed to fulfill a cock-eyed agenda.
In the next few weeks there will be more information forthcoming about the political interests shared between the Mayor and Guelph MPP, Liz Sandals. All this makes for very interesting provincial and civic elections this year.
As they say in journalistic circles: “the first casualty in war is the truth.”
Join grassrootsguelph.com today and make your voice heard to stop the bleeding of our treasure and halt rank mismanagement of our corporation.