Posted October 5, 2014
When you strip away the spin broadcast by the mayor’s campaign team, you discover there is a groundswell of voters doubt about whether to support the Farbridge team of 19 candidates running for council seats.
While the contest for mayor receives the greatest exposure in the media, the real battle remains in the wards where 12 councillors are to be elected.
In the past eight years, Mayor Karen Farbridge has forged an iron-fisted coalition that has controlled the city. It has experienced several stumbles trying to prevent the public from objecting to policies deemed unsustainable.
The granddaddy of stumbles came with the Urbacon Buildings Systems Corp lawsuit. By now, most people know that the city terminated the new city hall general contractor, Urbacon, before the job was completed. Urbacon sued and the city lost. So far, the cost of the lawsuit has zoomed by $15 million. And, there is still more liability to come.
Through this, the mayor has neither accepted responsibility nor has her elected council supporters past and present. In fact, the administration claims that the costs will not cause an increase in taxes. The announcement came that the costs will be paid through undisclosed reserve funds.
Voila! Problem solved. Except, the citizens paid for those reserve accounts through their taxes and user fees. But those reserves have to be replenished in the next five years. The money will come from revenues. Again it’s your money.
Al Horsman, Chief Financial Officer, has already said that the property tax rate in 2015 will be 6 per cent and will continue its upward spiral in the next two years.
If Mr. Horsman has miscalculated, who in the Farbridge administration is aware? They don’t want to talk about it.
There is only one way to solve this situation and it’s tougher than you think.
Citizens should understand that the city can no longer experience another four years of the Farbridge administration, its policies and cost.
The way to change it is to elect a majority of councillors who will take charge of the city regardless of who is elected mayor. In doing so, it will return power to the council and not just the mayor’s office. Most of all, ward by ward, the people will have representation that will listen, be open and transparent and bring fiscal order to the community.
The greatest fear of the Farbridge group is to lose the support of the unions. More than 80 per cent of 2,100 city employees are members of various unions. The unions have unequivocally supported the Farbridge administration.
This is why the Letters to the Editor page and certain members of the Mercury’s community editorial board have been broadcasting that increasing taxes is a good thing. Kind of like a ten-year old saying that more allowance means more stuff.
It’s a good thing if you’re a union bargaining with the city and knowing that the citizens will pick-up their increases in wages and salaries, plus benefits.
The question is: Do you want the unions, read that almost all civic employees, to have such a large influence in the operations of Guelph? Shouldn’t council have the full decision-making authority? They are the people’s representatives.
If you don’t agree with the policies and practices of the Farbridge administration, then vote for two councillors in your ward who are dedicated to change. GrassRoots Guelph has published the names of those running for council in each ward. For more information look for details in the next three Thursday editions of the Guelph Tribune. There is an alternative to returning responsibility to the council.
The Farbridge supporters are making another overt attempt to retain control of the city by electing members of the labour movement to city council. If this occurs, the citizens will lose what little control they have now to stop the spending on a wide variety of projects. But the Farbridge administration can’t fix the potholes or sidewalks, can’t build a main street underpass to accept all vehicles. It can waste money on poor judgment, continue to raise taxes and do it all in secret.
For the GRG recommended list of councillors go to grassrootsguelph.com.