Posted May 14, 2014
There is an interesting parallel between the Boston Tea Party that triggered the American Revolutionary War and the Farbridge administration.
You see, it was all about taxes and taxation without representation.
Fast forward to 2014 and we have, in Guelph, a council that taxes without representation. Oh! You say we have an elected council to represent us but in the past eight years, but it hasn’t worked that way. The majority of our elected representatives ignore their fiduciary responsibilities with excessive taxation, spending and failing to fix a failing infrastructure.
Instead, we get a multi-million dollar overbuilt and inefficient garbage dump and part-time collection system, bike lanes and a costly attempt to transform a downtown at the expense of other parts of the city.
When was the last time you had any say in paying one of the highest property tax rates in Ontario? Or had any say in the 77 per cent increase in water bills when water use is declining despite the increase in population? How about the predicted 42 per cent increase in Hydro rates over the next four years, has there been any input from citizens?
The city recently announced it is seeking a chief executive officer to run the shadow holding company know as Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc (GMHI) with its chief asset being Guelph Hydro, its subsidiary, Envida Community Energy Inc. and the city-owned Guelph Railroad. The board of directors is composed of the mayor as chairman, four of her council supporters and two independents known for their loyalty to the mayor and the CEO of Guelph Hydro.
The question is why does Guelph need another layer of expensive talent to run a holding company with one major asset? Guelph Hydro has a management structure that has functioned well for many years. Why is more management needed?
The holding company, it has been revealed, will manage the latest Farbridge vision of supplying underground thermal heating and cooling to the downtown area. The Guelph Hydro subsidiary, Envida Community Energy, has announced it will build a $20 million gas-fired plant generating electricity combined with a thermal based heating and cooling system to service the Hanlon Business Park occupants.
Even more interesting is how GMHI is paid a dividend from Guelph Hydro. In 2012, the dividend was $2,900,000 forwarded to the city and swallowed up in general revenues. It was paid despite a decline in Guelph Hydro’s revenues in 2012.
Is this what you voted for in 2006 and 2010?
The bottom line, it is another sneaky way for citizens to be taxed, every time they turn on the lights, heat the house, heat the water, refrigerate the food and watch television.
The same thing is happening when providing water and water treatment services. The alarming trend of increasing water costs to consumers reached 77 per cent from 2007 to 2012. The electricity and water revenues play an important role in propping up the shaky Farbridge vision of turning the city into some kind of environmental wonderland.
This takes money. Lots of it and that’s why there is the constant scramble to find ways to excessively tax people, overcharge user fees and now use two vital services, power and water to help pay for blind ambition.
Trouble is, the Ontario Municipal Act frowns on municipalities taxing those two vital services, directly or indirectly. The subterfuge of using the municipal holding company to launder the Hydro “dividend” so it does not appear as another tax is egregious and possibly unlawful.
These are facts with which the electorate will have to face October 27.
Another four years of a Farbridge administration will bury this city financially.
Here’s why: People will not want to live here because of the high property tax rates. In fact, many residents, particularly those on fixed incomes, will not be able to afford to live here. Industrial and commercial development will not grow because of high taxes, operating fees and a complicated system of obtaining approvals from a dysfunctional city administration.
Throw in the plight of the University of Guelph, a major economic contributor to the city. The institution’s budget is showing a current deficit of $34 million. This has prompted staff layoffs and cutbacks in programs.
On top of that, the university staff pension plan is currently underfunded by $741,300,000 and that is not shown on financial statements.
The provincially mandated sunshine list revealing those public employees earning more than $100,000, show the University of Guelph had 175 employees on the list in 2002. In 2012, there were 788 employees on the list, a 350 per cent increase.
The same thing is occurring in the city administration where salaries and wages, plus soaring pension costs have created a financial crisis that will have long-range consequences. In 2013, some 200 city employees made the sunshine list, up from 178 in 2012.
Regardless of who takes over next October, a lot of the damage has already been done. Fixing it will take heroic action on the part of the next elected council.
The Farbridge administration has already demonstrated how to milk the electorate in a variety of ways to fulfill its agenda.
This lame duck bunch, in the final months of its mandate, has abused the public trust and it’s time for them to go.
OMG! “The British are coming! The British are coming!” Paul Revere, 1776.
Where is Paul Revere when we need him?