Monthly Archives: March 2015

How the public trough is drained by retiring senior staff

Posted March 31, 2015

The 2015 Sunshine List contains some revealing figures. For example, four senior staff members left city employment in 2014. Of that number, three were resignations while the remaining senior staffer’s departure is unknown and believed to be a case for termination.

Keep in mind that the figures are split in two, Salary and taxable benefits. In this case only the slary figures are used.

Let’s start with the resignation of former Police Chief, Bryan Larkin. whose last day spent as head of Guelph police services was August 31, 2014. He had accepted the job of chief of the Waterloo Regional Police Department. Presumably he went on the payroll in his new job, September 1.

The Sunshine list shows that Larkin was paid $181,930 by Guelph for his eight months working for the city in 2014.

By dividing $181,930 by 12, the former chief’s monthly rate was $15,160.

But he only worked for eight months and should have received $121,280 for his service. That indicates Mr. Larkin was overpaid by $60,650. At the same time, he was drawing his Waterloo chief’s salary for the remaining four months of 2014.

How did this happen? Even if it was a contractual issue, it should not have happened. The man gave notice two months notice ahead of leaving and there was no doubt he resigned. Larkin was chief for about three years. Was handing him a bonus of $60,650 represent some sort of pay back for promises made and pledges of support?

What kind of message does this send to the police rank and file and other city employees? What’s good for the goose isn’t good for the gander?

In addition, the former chief breached the Ontario Police Act by publicly supporting former Mayor Farbridge before he left his job. Draw your own conclusions.

But wait, there’s more.

Executive Director Janet Laird, longtime friend of the former mayor, resigned right after the election and left. She received $189,865 plus a taxable benefit of $6,271. She worked 10 months in 2014. That indicates her monthly salary was $15,822. That’s a total final pay of $158,220, a difference of $31,648.

Executive Director Derek McCaughan, also left, following the election, for reasons that are unclear. The List showed he received $180,824 plus $8,030 in taxable benefits. At that rate, his monthly salary was $15,068 so his final pay should have been $150,686 for the months served. That’s a difference of $30,138.

Those senior staff peers, who worked the 12 months, were reported as earning similar annual salaries as Ms. Laird and Mr. McCaughan. Deputy CAO Mark Amorosi earned $182,761; Deputy CAO Al Horsman, 182,761; Deputy CAO Derrick Thomson $173,720.

The fourth senior staffer who resigned, Chief Librarian, Kathleen Pope, received $141,271 plus taxable benefits of $577. Unfortunately, her departure date is unknown. She resigned to take on the Windsor public library system.

There may have been some minor statutory adjustments made by the financial department at city hall and police headquarters, prior to the four leaving. One may have been payment for unused sick leave or vacation. Why are employees paid twice just to show up when they retire or resign? That’s a question citizens should be asking,

If an employee does not use his or her sick leave allowance in a given year, then it should not be rolled over and accumulated. Former Guelph police Chief Rob Davis did just that when he retired receiving $42,000 because during his tour of duty he was rarely sick,

Regardless, how can the citizens understand that when you resign, you get paid for service after you leave? That’s what happened in the three cases above, they were paid for work they didn’t perform.

The Larkin case is the most serious. Theoretically, he made more money in 2014, for eight months work, than Chief Administrative Officer, Ann Pappert who worked the full 12 months.

Here is the comparison of the two key employees for the first eight months of the year.

Larkin received $181,930. Ms. Pappert received the equivalent of $146,438 in the eight months of 2014. That’s a difference of $35,492.

Is it any wonder why the people defeated the former mayor and some of her supporters with this kind of treatment of retiring senior officials? Is it part of the sense of entitlement that some senior staff appears to possess?

It is also about the growing concern of citizens that its civic staff costs are out of control particularly when compared to peer group municipalities. More on this later.

Mr. Larkin should return the four months pay he received after leaving the city’s employment August 31, 2014.

Citizens deserve to be told all of the details of these senior staff resignations.




Filed under Between the Lines

The 2015 Guelph employee Sunshine List of those earning more than $100,000

This  is the Sunshine List for 2014. The city has 266 full-time employees including city administration, police services, fire services, EMS and library. The break down is: City employees, 79; Fire department, 69; EMS, 10; Police 108. In the city numbers almost all are managers or senior advisors.

There were four senior employees on the list who left their jobs in 2014 including Police Chief Bryan Larkin (August 31), Janet Laird (November), Derek McCaughan (November), and Kathleen Pope (August).

The second column of numbers are the taxable benefits each employee received during the year. These include personal travel expenses and city supplied vehicle.

ADLINGTON, GEOFFREY Platoon Chief In-Training $130,381.08 $359.82
AGNELLO, TINA Deputy City Clerk $113,457.25 $521.69
ALONZO, LORETTA Internal Auditor $126,884.80 $580.89
AMOROSI, MARK Deputy CAO Corporate Services $182,761.44 $6,238.26
ANGELO, MARY Supervisor Development Engineering $108,292.91 $495.23
ARMSTRONG, SHAWN General Manager Emergency Services Fire Chief $177,644.78 $6,195.37
AVGOUSTIS, PETER Manager Business Services $113,447.62 $521.69
BANTING, BRUCE Associate Solicitor $113,447.62 $12.72
BARDEN,SCOTT Captain $121,543.88 $340.55
BARR, BILL Manager Fleet & Equipment $126,088.37 $5,980.83
BECK, JONATHAN First Class Firefighter $101,814.29 $284.91
BERWICK, SCOTT First Class Firefighter $101,413.04 $284.91
BEVERIDGE, ANDREW Captain $117,981.08 $340.55
BOISVERT, BRENDA Corporate Mgr Strategic Planning & Initiatives $103,140.09 $474.22
BOORSMA, DAVID Platoon Chief In-Training $125,715.35 $359.82
BOTTOMLEY, CRAIG Fire Prevention Officer $112,990.04 $323.92
BOYLE, DAVID Corporate Network Specialist $109,691.57 $431.31
BRAIN, TIMOTHY Platoon Chief In-Training $125,603.77 $359.82
BRATTON, GREGORY First Class Firefighter $102,128.94 $284.91
BRIGGS, LYNNE Manager Partnerships & Inclusion $108,292.86 $1,847.12
BRNJAS, JONATHAN Advanced Care Paramedic $104,639.84 $285.21
BRYDGES, PAUL First Class Firefighter $108,728.62 $293.58
BUSATTO, PETER General Manager Water Services $134,585.25 $614.91
CALMA, BRUCE Commander $116,226.43 $511.31
CAMERON, MURRAY General Manager Parks & Recreation $164,725.29 $2,430.18
CARTWRIGHT, PETER General Manager Economic Development $150,977.58 $4,742.88
CASTELLAN ALDUNATE, M Manager Policy Planning & Urban Design $104,492.52 $480.66
CHRISTENSEN, SEVEN First Class Firefighter $106,120.33 $293.39
CLACK, COLLEEN General Manager Culture & Tourism $140,798.80 $1,990.90
COISH, DOUGLAS Platoon Chief In-Training $125,947.40 $359.82
CONNELL, HEATHER Manager Integrated Services $103,136.28 $474.22
COUTTS, BRADLEY Manager Court Services $125,456.88 $4,623.60
CRAVEN, ROBERT First Class Firefighter $101,572.25 $284.91
CURTIS, DEAN Captain $117,901.20 $340.55
DEDMAN, KEALY General Manager Engineering / City Engineer $143,055.02 $614.79
DELUCA, DEAN Paramedic Field Supervisor $106,528.84 $469.55
DEWAR, STEPHEN Chief Emergency Medical Services $131,982.94 $5,544.94
DMYTRUS, STEVEN First Class Firefighter $108,296.70 $292.27
DUNCAN, ANDREW First Class Firefighter $100,456.17 $284.91
DUNNING, HARRY Manager Admin & Emergency Preparedness $140,193.98 $6,054.64
DUPUIS, VICTORIA West End Community Centre Facility Manager $103,200.88 $1,824.22
FARQUHARSON, ALLAN Captain $120,962.93 $348.89
FELL, ROBERT Captain $120,620.94 $348.89
FERGUSON, GRnt Technical Services Program Manager $103,265.86 $1,846.94
FISCHER, adam Corporate Telephony/ Convergence Specialist $109,913.76 $431.31
FITZPATRICK, brian Captain $120,620.94 $348.89
FOSTER, STEPHEN Advanced Care Paramedic $103,994.89 $272.06
GERRIOR, FRED Manager Transit Operations $106,024.56 $474.22
GILLIS, RANDY Fire Prevention Officer $118,159.81 $348.89
GODFREY, DOUGLAS Manager By-Laws, Security & Licensing $104,783.61 $474.22
GODWALDT, DAVID General Manager Human Resources $135,160.30 $612.36
GRAU, RICK Sleeman Facility Manager $103,136.28 $474.22
GRILLS, HARRY First Class Firefighter $100,735.47 $284.91
HAID, ARTHUR First Class Firefighter $106,390.02 $284.91
HAMBLY, DAVID First Class Firefighter $115,323.08 $329.09
HAMILTON, BRAD Project Engineer $103,136.28 $474.22
HAMMILL, CHRIS Training Officer $113,681.28 $321.68
HANSON, ROBERT Lead Environmental Protection Officer $112,004.70 $267.35
HASSARAJANI, CHETAN Manager Client Services $103,139.34 $474.22
HEAD, RON Captain $122,600.21 $348.89
HILL, ROBERT Paramedic Field Supervisor $105,618.29 $469.55
HODGSON, KIMBERLY Chief Fire Prevention Officer $138,901.59 $382.19
HOFFMAN, MARK Captain $121,418.15 $348.89
HORSMAN, ALBERT Deputy CAO Infrastructure, Development, $182,761.44 $6,238.26
HUNTER, COLIN Captain $135,297.47 $340.55
JACOBSON, GLENN First Class Firefighter $106,885.59 $284.91
JANES, ANDREW Project Engineer Supervisor $115,411.18 $530.33
JAQUES, DONNA General Manager Legal Services City Solicitor $150,977.58 $2,042.88
JOHNSTON, BRIAN First Class Firefighter $103,994.09 $284.91
KELLER, RODNEY General Manager Public Works $137,258.42 $6,030.18
KERR, ROBERT General Manager Guelph Municipal Holdings $132,600.00 $608.84
KING, JOHN Captain $117,812.12 $340.55
KIRKWOOD, SYLVIA Manager Development Planning $113,447.62 $521.69
KNIGHTON, MICHAEL Captain $121,820.88 $340.55
KRAFT, STEVEN Chief Executive Officer Library $116,246.83 $530.35
KRUSKY, MATT Captain $120,620.94 $348.89
KUBIK, ADAM First Class Firefighter $101,428.38 $284.91
KUDO, DONALD Deputy City Engineer $131,038.27 $600.22
LABELLE, BLAIR General Manager Technology And Innovation $137,152.85 $627.66
LECROIX, JOHN Captain $119,967.27 $346.26
LAIRD, JANET Director Planning, Engineering & Environment $189,865.00 $6,271.85
LUBITZ, DAN Manager Corporate Applications $106,463.74 $487.57
MACCULLOCH, STEVE First Class Firefighter $109,887.69 $293.58
MACDONALD, DAN First Class Firefighter $109,055.43 $284.91
MACINTYRE, LYNNE Mgr Compensation, Benefits, Human Resources $120,956.53 $3,247.59
MAIRS, JAMES Senior Business Development Specialist $103,136.28 $4,524.22
MARTINELLO, JOHN First Class Firefighter $108,452.40 $284.91
MCCAUGHAN, DEREK Executive Director Operations & Guelph Transit $180,824.02 $8,030.61
MCCAUSLAND, CATHERINE Manager Operations $113,447.62 $521.69
MCCRONE, MIKE Captain $117,822.97 $340.55
MCDONALD, GARY Platoon Chief In-Training $125,988.48 $359.82
MCDONALD, SCOTT Captain $119,842.74 $346.26
MCGILLIVARY, WARREN First Class Firefighter $100,816.85 $284.91
MCILVEEN, ALLISTER Manager Traffic & Parking $115,164.30 $5,921.69
MEAGHER, PHIL General Manager Guelph Transit $132,272.79 $578.21
MITCHELL, KERRY Commander $117,171.10 $511.31
MITCHELL, MARK Chief Training Officer $128,305.37 $382.19
MORRISON, GLEN Platoon Chief $131,955.26 $382.19
NEUMANN Manager Forestry $102,822.73 $473.89
NIEUWOLD, DAVID Captain $120,841.48 $344.96
NIXON, DANA Manager Staffing & Workforce Planning $117,960.89 $3,221.69
O’CONNOR, MICHAEL Platoon Chief $132,021.97 $382.19
OSBORNE, JOANNE Advanced Care Paramedic $102,670.43 $285.21
OSBORNE, JOHN Deputy Fire Chief $161,356.00 $6,120.45
PAGE, ROBERT First Class Firefighter $108,844.60 $284.91
PANABAKER, IAN Corporate Manager Downtown Renewal $113,956.01 $474.22
PAPPERT, ANN Chief Administrative Officer $219,657.49 $6,403.47
PATERSON, DARRRYL Platoon Chief In-Training $125,690.21 $359.82
PATTERSON, DAVID Platoon Chief $138,664.22 $382.19
PEDERSON, PAUL First Class Firefighter $102,667.41 $284.91
PENDER, LOREN Captain $118,478.19 $340.55
PETRICEVIC, MARIO General Mgr Corporate Building Maintenance $124,792.46 $3,273.60
PETTERSEN, JENNY First Class Firefighter $106,822.11 $292.27
PHILIPS, TODD First Class Firefighter $100,137.51 $284.91
PHILLIPS, GARY Platoon Chief In-Training $125,304.10 $359.82
PHILLIPS, MATTHEW Supervisor Water Supply $100,391.57 $433.10
PLETCH, KERRY-AN Organizational Development Specialist $107,210.62 $470.15
POOLE, BRUCE General Mgr Building Services $144,121.38 $662.31
POPE, KATHLEEM Chief Executive Officer Library $141,271.93 $577.28
POWELL, BARBARA General Mgr Community & Social Services $137,258.42 $1,980.18
POWER, KATRINA General Manager Finance $137,258.42 $630.18
PURTON, SRAH Manager Financial Planning & Budgets $102,386.39 $471.72
QAQISH, MAJDE Project Engineer $103,143.96 $474.22
RAYNARD, GREG First Class Firefighter $105,951.66 $289.51
REYNEN, ROBERT Manager Inspection Services $113,447.62 $521.69
RIDER, PETER Sourcewater Risk Management Official $113,514.94 $521.69
ROBERTSON, TIM Manager Operations $116,747.75 $474.22
ROSS, PETER Advanced Care Paramedic $101,718.32 $275.97
RUSSELL, JOHN Manager Technology Services $103,142.53 $474.22
SABATINI, TONY Assistant Chief Fire Prevention Officer $122,451.35 $348.89
SABZALI, KAREN Manager Parks Open Spaces $113,447.62 $521.69
SALTER, TODD General Manager Planning Services $147,870.92 $678.91
SANVIDO, ANDREW Captain $124,432.17 $346.26
SCOTT, CHAD Manager Waste Collection $103,136.28 $474.22
SIMONS, DAVID Captain $122,213.88 $348.89
SMITH, JASON First Class Firefighter $104,477.04 $284.91
SMITH, SUSAN Associate Solicitor $121,626.81 $521.69
SPRIGG, TARA Corporate Manager Communications $115,246.42 $474.22
STANDRING, KENNETH Captain $121,175.46 $348.89
STEWART, WILLIAM Manager Procurement & Risk Management $113,447.93 $3,221.69
STOCKER, FRANK Fire Prevention Officer $107,641.54 $313.89
STOREY, KEVIN First Class Firefighter $100,755.27 $284.91
SURESH, KIRAN General Manager Wastewater Services $148,122.32 $588.12
SWANTKO, LEANNE Deputy Chief Emergency Medical Services $120,198.44 $5,941.47
SWARTZENTRUBER, B Senior Advisor Policy & Intergovernmental $112,732.80 $486.10
TALBOT, JIM Corporate Server Specialist $117,992.18 $431.31
THOMAS, KERI Advanced Care Paramedic $107,550.18 $275.97
THOMSON, DERRICK Deputy Chief Administrative Officer $173,720.24 $6,190.11
TRANQUILLI-NARDINI, F Mgr Labour Relations and Health & Safety $128,100.75 $3,261.53
TRENTO,STEVEN First Class Firefighter $102,237.74 $284.91
TUNNEY, ROBIN Director Branch Bookmobile Services $113,447.62 $521.69
VALERIOTE, MATTHEW Fire Prevention Officer $117,383.56 $315.44
VAN DUZER, JOSH First Class Firefighter $107,770.15 $284.91
VANDER MEULEN, MIKE Paramedic Field Supervisor $105,072.25 $469.55
VICKERS, BRAD Platoon Chief In-Training $125,160.28 $359.82
WAY, BRADLEY Platoon Chief $131,850.27 $382.19
WELLS, JOHN First Class Firefighter $101,804.67 $284.91
WORSFOLD, SCOTT Deputy City Solicitor $124,792.46 $573.60
WYMAN, DEAN General Manager Solid Waste Resources $137,258.42 $7,380.18
2015 City of Guelph Sunshine List – Police Services
ANDERSON, AMANDA Police Constable $101,771.53 $286.81
BAIR, BENJAMIN Police Sergeant $125,398.70 $408.74
BALDASSINI, ENZO Facilities Coordinator $114,482.05 $337.71
BEGIN, DAVID Police Sergeant $111,092.12 $340.81
BISER, SCOTT Police Constable $112,239.37 $374.56
BROWN, KENDALL Police Constable $101,254.20 $831.31
CAMPBELL, BRENDAN Police Constable $101,232.74 $277.91
CARON, DAVID Police Constable $112,448.28 $290.89
CLARK, MELANIE Police Sergeant $103,399.54 $313.67
, ROBIN Police Constable $100,418.69 $305.05
CONIBEAR, DONALD Police Constable $104,361.81 $319.43
COX, RODNEY Police Constable $103,285.93 $317.96
CROWE, ANDREW Police Constable $107,391.36 $277.74
CROWE, P[AUL Police Staff Sergeant $123,734.79 $391.79
DAVIS, MICHAEL Police Sergeant $129,461.17 $344.05
DERUYTER, JEFFREY Acting Chief of Police $187,021.47 $1,262.09
DOXEY, DAVID Acting Police Staff Sergeant $114,649.03 $336.13
DRENTERS, MATTHEW Police Constable $103,042.63 $285.19
DUMBRECK, SHAWN Police Constable $101,398.74 $277.31
ELLOWAY, DAVID Police Sergeant $130,496.29 $355.39
FINORO, JAMES Police Constable $102,369.80 $307.25
FRASER, JOSHUA Police Constable $103,552.98 $294.80
GAWLIK, STEPHEN Police Constable $112,710.78 $1,849.71
GAZZOLA, MARINO Police Staff Sergeant $124,328.53 $387.22
GILL, STEPHEN Police Sergeant $108,609.06 $330.13
GILL, THOMAS Police Staff Sergeant $130,413.76 $385.49
GOODY, ANDREW Police Constable $103,340.21 $290.18
GORDON, Raymond Police Sergeant $132,548.54 $358.90
GREEN, JONATHAN Information Systems Services Manager $127,163.35 $375.65
GREEN, SCOTT Police Inspector $161,605.64 $437.83
GRIFFITHS, TIM Acting Police Staff Sergeant $116,384.47 $358.09
GROVER, ANGELA Police Sergeant $109,354.96 $324.54
GROVER, SCOTT Police Staff Sergeant $120,313.44 $374.51
GUARDIERO, JASON Police Constable $110,833.96 $304.06
GUEST, DAVID Police Sergeant $111,105.30 $339.17
GUTHRIE, TRACEY Police Constable $108,362.10 $521.68
HALL, JASON Police Constable $105,765.46 $284.09
HAND, KIRSTON Financial Services Manager $125,506.43 $357.37
HARDING, PAUL Police Sergeant $113,368.40 $342.63
HARRIS, TRACEY Human Resource Services Manager $126,987.83 $374.13
HASHAM, ARIF Police Sergeant $112,143.94 $342.26
HERN, TREVOR Police Constable $100,059.30 $277.31
HILL, DAVID Police Constable $100,104.40 $305.56
HOWE, DUSTAN Police Constable $103,833.85 $277.31
HOYER, MANFRED Police Sergeant $119,680.49 $353.62
HUNT, DALE Police Constable $110,535.84 $1,335.71
HUNTER, BRUCE Police Constable $105,447.57 $321.88
JOTHAM, KELLEY Human Resources Advisor $101,803.23 $302.53
KARAVELUS, JEIMY Police Sergeant $111,898.57 $333.70
KELLER, ROSS Police Sergeant $118,574.87 $340.48
KERFOOT, CARRIE Police Sergeant $103,705.09 $318.41
KERFOOT, KEVIN Police Constable $104,039.60 $288.43
KING, KEVIN Police Sergeant $119,700.71 $340.14
KORGA, ATTILA Police Constable $105,381.78 $307.45
LARKIN, BRYAN Chief of Police $181,930.49 $1,623.31
LAYNE, EARL Police Constable $104,547.95 $298.74
MACARTHUR, GREGORY Police Constable $101,126.38 $277.31
MACLACHLAN, ANDREW Police Constable $100,166.10 $279.03
MALE, GARRY Police Inspector $155,798.18 $431.83
MARTIN, JAY Police Constable $110,171.35 $452.44
MARTIN, PAUL Acting Deputy Chief of Police $162,726.50 $437.34
MCGARR, HOWARD Police Inspector $162,864.80 $438.07
MCNEILLY, DEREK Police Sergeant $111,330.12 $342.56
MEIER, JULIE Police Constable $104,646.15 $302.08
MILLER, DAVID Police Staff Sergeant $122,018.45 $389.42
MILLIGAN, PATRICK Police Inspector $196,954.15 $433.81
MITCHELL, GORDON Police Sergeant $115,335.77 $343.18
MITRO, PETER Police Sergeant $115,090.36 $338.92
MOSEY, DANIEL Police Constable $109,926.01 $305.26
MOULTON,   NEIL Police Constable $102,170.46 $285.19
NEUMANN, RALPH Police Constable $107,196.67 $307.40
NIGH, CRAIG Police Constable $101,116.08 $277.31
NINACS, ANDREA Police Staff Sergeant $125,260.58 $393.02
O’CONNELL, MARK Police Constable $114,375.31 $580.60
ODORICO, SANDRA Data Services Manager $114,202.48 $336.75
OROK, ANDREW Police Constable $106,470.07 $601.05
PAVLICIK, DANIEL Police Staff Sergeant $122,231.45 $390.42
PETTAPIECE, MARK Police Constable $103,673.39 $301.99
PETTAPIECE, SHERRY Police Constable $101,376.50 $298.74
PFLUG, DOUGLAS Police Sergeant $112,381.12 $336.92
POWELL, MICHAEL Police Constable $105,957.63 $277.31
PRINGLE, DAVID Acting Police Inspector $131,115.58 $428.57
PROBST, CHRISTOPHER Acting Police Sergeant $107,063.44 $310.22
PRONOVOST, PATTY Police Constable $124,171.77 $311.79
ROBERTSON, STEWART Police Constable $104,798.81 $285.19
RODD, KENNETH Police Constable $102,459.99 $305.44
RUSSELL, CLIFFORD Police Sergeant $119,675.30 $335.64
RYAN, TINA Police Sergeant $125,518.84 $347.88
RYNN, THERESA Police Constable $101,991.97 $314.71
SAINT, BRADLEY Police Constable $106,706.74 $742.84
SCHLEEN, JONATHAN Police Constable $100,734.10 $290.58
SCHNURR, HARRY Police Inspector $147,082.39 $393.69
SHERRATT, CORY Police Sergeant $110,222.13 $318.82
SIDLOFSKY STOFFMAN, J Legal Counsel $126,855.83 $368.81
SMITH, IAN Police Constable $107,410.40 $285.19
SONNEMANN, BRANDY Police Constable $107,308.11 $301.67
SUTTER, CHRISTOPHER Police Constable $100,216.59 $290.23
TANG, LESTER Police Constable $104,675.66 $290.70
TOVELL, MICHAE; Acting Police Sergeant $112,612.85 $309.47
VALLES, JOHNI Police Constable $103,662.10 $307.91
VANDEN ENDEN, DEREK Police Constable $102,617.68 $303.34
WAECHTER, KEITH Police Constable $101,671.13 $277.31
WARREN, DAVID Police Constable $102,048.33 $307.45
WELSH, BRIAN Police Constable $110,958.27 $321.28
WELSH, CATHERINE Police Staff Sergeant $128,792.86 $411.70
WRIGHT, SCOTT Police Constable $102,683.34 $302.85
ZORN, KARL Police Constable $100,379.14 $307.12


Filed under Between the Lines

So, here’s the score

March 27, 2015

The voter crusade for a Better Guelph died early Thursday morning with approval of the 2015 budgets.

Here’s why:

Because council approved a 3.55 percent property tax increase and a 4.5 per cent increase in water usage. Mayor Guthrie pledged during his election campaign to hold the property tax increase to the Consumer Price Index. currently at 2.1 per cent.

Because by an 11 to 2 vote, council approved spending $600,000 on east and west bike lanes and some unidentified sidewalks on Woodlawn Road. The decision came despite an earlier motion to not spend $300,00 toward the project. The argument was all about safety, but for whom? The cyclists demanded that council live up to its ten-year $3,000,000 capital bike-lane-spending plan, approved by the previous council. City deputy engineer. Don Kudo presented the Woodlawn plans to council. You remember him; he was in charge of the Wyndham Street rail underpass reconstruction. We now know how that turned out.

Because there was no consideration for the 6,400 homes in the city that do not have their waste picked up by the city. They pay for it through their taxes, but must hire private contractors to remove their waste.

Because they back-doored buying a new Zamboni to resurface the ice surface in front of city hall. The real reason was to buy one for the indoor rinks and send the old one to city hall for its rink. Wonder if this one fits in the barn that was originally too small for the Zamboni. In this switcheroo what happens to the former city hall Zamboni? Are you still with me? More voodoo handling our money.

It’s because council keeps approving hiring high-salaried managers as requested by senior staff.

Because a key apologist of the Farbridge administration’s gaffes, fumbles and lying by omission, the current Chief Administrative Officer, is still there. Remember her? Telling us the Urbacon lawsuit settlement will not impact property taxes. She seems to believe that reserves are a piggy bank to be raided at will for covering-up mistakes.

Because, there was little discussion, let alone rejuvenation, of the industrial promotion department. Guelph property taxpayers are carrying an increasing share of the tax levy because there has been no change in commercial and industrial assessment ratio of just 16 per cent for the past eight years. Why? Because building high-density housing was part of the Farbridge administration’s “housing intensification” policy. This offset any real growth of commercial and industrial businesses. In this case, policy trumped common sense.

Because voters were promised there would be an audit of the total Urbacon costs and it hasn’t happened. This costly affair has more strings than a cat playing with a ball of twine. The thing that citizens want to know is the depth of this debacle. Where did the money come from for the two contractors hired to complete the new city hall and renovate the old one? What was the source of funds to pay the other liabilities including city legal expenses, settlement with Aviva, the bondholder and the subcontractors?

Because a motion by Coun. Karl Wettstein to reduce the $900,000 in the budget to replenish the drained reserve funds to $500,000. The motion included asking the staff to find ways to reduce the liability repayment. This is a stupid and immoral decision that reflects the reluctance to reveal what the Urbacon mess really cost.

Because some council members were part of the former administration and are predictably opposed to any investigations that would darken the image of their former leader. This could result in damaging personal reputations.

It is now apparent that the voters did not get what they voted for last October. While it is early in the term of office, there were promises made that must be kept.

It’s not too late to revive the push for a Better Guelph.

Citizens are growing impatient with slogans and political posturing. They seek reform of the way their city is being managed.

More of the same won’t cut it.



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Yipeekio! The Farbridge gang rides again

Posted March 26, 2015

The council passed 2015 operating and capital budgets early this morning that included a 3.55 percent property tax increase. Joanne Shuttleworth, the Mercury reporter covering city hall, was hard pressed to file all the details due to deadline pressure.

That final tax increase exceeded the staff’s proposed budget by .5 per cent.

What she did manage to report was that the council approved spending $600,000 on building a multi-use active transportation lane on Woodlawn road. Translation: another expensive bike lane on a major road. It is a major cave-in to a minority group of cyclists who represent about 1 per cent of the Guelph population. First their request for $300,000 was rejected but then they persuaded the majority of council to spend $600,000/

It’s the Lance Armstrong syndrome: If you build it, they will come.

Another item was spending an undisclosed amount to resurface the ice pad in front of city hall. The question arises why does it need resurfacing after only four years? Coun. Dan Gibson moved to remove that from the capital budget. He also moved to remove a computer replacement plan (cost unknown). Both his motions were defeated.

But spending $25,000 to remove the signs at the West End recreation centre was chopped from the budget.

But the elephant in the chamber was the Urbacon settlement costs.

Recall the claim by Chief Administrative Officer, Ann Pappert, that the $8,935,000 settlement charges would not affect the ratepayers’ tax rates? Well, it will to the tune of $900,000 plus “associated costs” a year for the next six years. Let’s take a closer look at this.

During the budget meeting, Mayor Cam Guthrie said: “I thought the community was told that Urbacon wouldn’t impact the taxpayer, but in fact, there is a repayment.”

Urbacon and the lawyers have been paid. The money came from three unrelated reserve funds.

Also paid, were the two companies hired to complete the new city hall and renovate the old one into a provincial courthouse. The $4.5 million settlement owed to the subcontractors has also been paid.

Where did that money come from? None of it was budgeted by the city council.

It gets stranger. Doing the math on the $900,000 to be repaid over six years equals $5,400,000. That’s $3.535 million short of the $8.935 million. Remember the $900,000 each year was to replenish the three reserve funds? These are the same funds that were drained to pay off Urbacon and the lawyers.

That money is public money, generated from municipal taxes and user fees.

Then Coun. Karl Wettstein moved that the amount be reduced to $500,000 in 2015 and “allow the staff to figure out a suitable repayment schedule after that”. It was passed by a majority of council.

Wettstein’s motion just kicks the can down the road. Yet, he was unable to convince council to agree to build the South End Recreation Centre, a project that has been in the planning stage for more than 10 years.

It is now clear that the seven Farbridge supporters are still controlling the show.

Supporting this large property tax increase and water increase costs is more of the same tactics the majority of voters rejected last October.


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A premature declaration sometime turns out to be self-serving and illusionary

Posted March 23, 2015

The Guelph Mercury quoted a copy of the city report on the number of employees earning more than $100,000 in 2014. As pointed out in, the Province will publish the official figure March 31.

Looks like this kind of report is a defensive maneuver the city administration published that the Toronto Maple Leafs would make.

The city statement, and why would we not believe them, says there was an increase of only 15 employees earning $100,000 in 2014 bring the total to 159.

Trouble is the Sunshine list, produced by the Province, stated last year there were 200 city of Guelph full-time equivalent employees earning $100,000 in 2013.

It’s called cutting the cloth to fit the figure.

According to the Mercury report, the number of firefighters earning $100K last year jumped from 49 to 68. The EMS had four employees topping the city’s version of the Sunshine list.

Which brings up the excellent column by Bob Moore in the same edition of the paper titled: “I called for an ambulance and a fire truck showed up”.

It seems that with the dramatic drop in life-threatening fires and dangerous spills, the firemen’s role in public safety has dramatically changed. After all, there are only so many cats to get out of trees these days.

While fire department negotiators across the country sell the idea that they risk their member’s lives every time the truck rolls out, the growing number of life-threatening incidents has been steadily dropping. That’s thanks to technology, improved building construction and education.

So to justify their existence, the fire department negotiators tell their municipal negotiators that they attend vehicle collision and assorted emergency that calls for medical assistance and other lifesaving extractions.

That’s okay, but because of union jurisdiction rules, the firemen are not trained to perform primary medical care to accident victims or patients. They leave that to the EMS personnel when they arrive at the scene.

In Guelph, there are six fire halls located around the city and two EMS ambulance stations. A city official said this provided better coverage for citizens. That may be true but those firemen are not trained to treat injuries, or transport victims to hospital.

The Mercury report also quoted two members of council who justified the 27 per cent increase in firemen’s staff earning $100,000 a year. One said they work hard for the risks they take while the other said $100,000 is a meaningless benchmark today.

Mercifully, we will not name them to protect the ignorant that possess a cause. Just ask those folks who toil outside the cosseted public sector if they would like to earn $100,000 a year in a job that has the ultimate in security for life.

The time has come to say “no” to these organized labour organizations and bring these contracts in line with the reality that citizens can afford.

The bottom line is the citizens are paying some staff more than $100,000 for jobs that do not warrant those salaries and benefits.

The time has come to merge the three public safety services, police, fire and EMS, into one organization. A number of these contracts with city unions are up for negotiation the year. This provides a window of opportunity to build a unified, effective and well-trained public safety team.

On a voluntary basis, start by training firefighters to perform paramedic tasks and EMS personnel to perform fire and rescue. Reward those who qualify for the new responsibilities.

In Guelph, anything is possible. Besides, there are only so many cats and so many trees.

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Coming up: The 2014 Sunshine list and final city budget for 2015

Posted March 23

Just eight days from now, there are two major pocketbook events that will affect the lives of all Guelph citizens.

The first is the March 31st deadline for council to approve the 2015 budget. Plans call for this to actually occur March 25 however; plans can change with events and politics. Regardless, the law requires the city to approve the annual budget by March 31st.

The second event is the publishing, by the Province, of the 2014 Sunshine list. It names every municipal public employee in the 444 Ontario Municipalities, earning a base salary of $100,000 or more plus, the taxable benefits. The lists for all those employees making that salary must be submitted to the Province by March 5th.

So it is understandable that the new council has already received the finance department’s list of those Guelph civic employees earning $100,000 or more in 2014. On March 31, you can download the 2014 Sunshine list of names at:

Lets step back a bit to examine the 2013 Sunshine List, the last one reported. It is natural that there has to be a three-month period at the beginning of each year to gather and assemble this Sunshine information for the previous year.

In 2013, the city had 200 employees earning more than $100.000. In addition and separate from the list, it named 55 Guelph police officers and police civilian employees earning $100,000, or more.

This was an increase of 22 over 2012 or 12.3 per cent.

As an educated guess the 2014 Sunshine list could number 224. We’ll know March 31.

On the city employee’s list, the top earner was Chief Administration Officer, Ann Pappert, who made $214,605.59 in 2013, plus taxable benefits of $6,3217.28. The taxable benefit number seems puzzling given that she received a moving allowance of $20,000 to move from Waterloo to Guelph. It may show up in the 2014 Sunshine report.

If she chose to roll the moving bonus to an RRSP which is perfectly legal, the taxpayers of Guelph added $20,000 to her retirement accounts and she received a deduction for the extra contribution. That’s a great double header!

You cannot blame Ms. Pappert for this largess. Most members of council approved it. It is ironic that the 12 elected members of council, are paid part-time wages annually of $33,000 for performing almost a full-time job. The mayor is the only full-time elected employee. Is there something wrong with this picture?

Gregory Thomas, national director of the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation (CTF), was quoted last year “People working outside government in real Ontario are scrambling for every dime. More and more public workers are working in jobs that do not warrant six figure salaries.”

The CTF produced a report in mid-2013 about how 20 Ontario cities were controlling their employee costs, particularly the growing number of those earning more than $100,0000 a year. The study showed that Guelph ranked 18th out of 20 in managing to keep those costs under control.

With the growth of city staff of more than 550 full-time equivalent employees in seven years of the Farbridge administration, it’s not difficult to see the exponential growth of higher wages and benefits. This annual Sunshine lists prove that Guelph has not been able to contain the growth of its $100,000 salaried employees.

That’s why 85 per cent of all property tax revenues are spent on city staff costs including pensions, accumulating unused sick leave plus vacation benefits, and healthcare. In addition there is a list of 20 other benefits given to each employee some of which are taxable..

It is easy to understand why Guelph placed 18 out of 20 Ontario cities that were controlling their employee costs, particularly those earning $100,000 a year.

The staff ‘s 2015 budget proposal included spending $246,000 hiring two senior asset managers in 2015.

That’s one item that could be eliminated and considered in the 2016 budget.






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Tackling the former administration’s voodoo financial tactics


Posted March 20, 2015

Now that Ms. Maggie Laidlaw is no longer a member of Guelph council after her defeat at the polls last October, should we trust her current judgment that the people did not vote for tax cuts?

After reading her latest column in the Mercury, it’s easy to understand why she was not re-elected. The barrage of negative blog comments in the Laidlaw column , echo why she was not re-elected.

She still sticks to the myth that the Urbacon firing was caused by then-acting CAO Hans Loewig. She went on to write that only he had the authority to do so, not council. This myth is perpetuated by the current CAO, Ann Pappert, who stated he had the right to dump the city hall general contractor under “the CAO bylaw”.

And that says a lot about these ladies who are still operating as if there wasn’t an electionUrban myths are easy to propagate when you hold tight control of the city’s business, as was the case for the past eight years under former Mayor Karen Farbridge. And Maggie Laidlaw remains chief cheerleader for the tawdry operations of the city from 2007 to 2014.

The choice of accepting Ms. Laidlaw on the Community Editorial Board lies with the Mercury management. The selection methodology is unclear. The supporters of the previous administration are in a firm position to maintain the myth, you know, the one about blaming Hans Loewig for firing Urbacon.

Myth and the man was rewarded six weeks after the firing with the CAO getting a juicy four-year contract starting at $195,000 a year plus benefits. For the record, the current holder of that office, Ms. Pappert, earns $234,000 and that doesn’t include the $20,000 she was paid to move from Waterloo to Guelph. The Canada Revenue Agency allows a moving expense deduction if moving more than 20 kilometer for a job. In Pappert’s case it was a bonus.

And Maggie Laidlaw wonders why she and her pal, the former mayor, were not re-elected. People! You got it all wrong on October 2014!

It’s the classic “you can fool some of the people some of the time but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

Not far behind, is the Community Editorial Board’s, Yvette Tendick. She opines in the paper that because the previous council agreed to spend $300,000 last year for a “multi-use path” on Woodlawn Road, it should be spent this year along with a similar amount in the 2015 budget. Adding that she is proposing that $300,000 be spent every year for the next ten years. That’s a total of $3,600,000 to support that minority of “active transportation” adherents.

Wisely, the proposal was axed from the 2015 budget as was the previous $300,000 contained in the 2014 budget created by the previous administration. That money was promised but never spent. It was an election year remember?

The writer should understand that unspent city budget allocations in a calendar year cannot be rolled over to the next year’s budget. This is what Ms. Tendick is proposing. It was a practice of the previous administration to do just that. The administration declared in the official Financial Information Report, filed annually with the province, the closing figure was frequently altered in the folowing year’s budget.

This was documented in the petition to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing by GrassRoots Guelph. It challenged the accounting of public funds, and the charges are as true today as they were three years ago.

To read the actual petition, please go to and click on the post: “Petition by citizens in 2013..”. In the event you are unable to access, send an email request to

Just how many persistently active “active transportation” enthusiasts are using Guelph’s sidewalks and streets? This is another hangover from the previous administration that used public funds to create social change for a minority of citizens.

It was a basic war on cars advocated by members of yesterday’s council, regularly addressed by Maggie Laidlaw, a durable cyclist. She predicted some years ago that cars would not exist downtown in Guelph within 20 years. Reckon that prediction still has 14 years to materialize.

Did she seriously believe that seniors and the disabled could get to doctor’s appointments and grocery shop on bicycles or by walking?

The exact opposite has occurred with the narrowing vehicle lanes on major roads to allow wider bicycle lanes, creating growing traffic congestion.

This is yet another example of the huge job facing the new council to correct the mistakes, misrepresentations, excessive taxation, and voodoo financials imposed on the city for the past eight years.

They face daunting tasks ahead and we wish them well.




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Petition by citizens in 2013 to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs requesting an audit of Guelph’s finances


                        Application to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs

            Requesting an audit of the City of Guelph’s finances and operations

            As per the Municipal Affairs Act R.S.O. 1990, Chapter M.46 Part II

September 12, 2013

Please note that this document is almost three years old and does not include the Urbacon city Hall law suit settlement and associated costs that have yet to be revealed.

Under part II section 9 (1) we, the 162 undersigned taxpayers, request a Provincial Municipal Audit of the City of Guelph’s finances and operations. Our concerns are the management of the city has resulted in exponentially increasing liability to the taxpayers now and in the future.

In our collective opinion we cite the following:


  1. In the past four years, when figures were available, the City of Guelph expenditures exceeded budgets by a total of $24,771,000. The amounts were: 2012; $10,750,000; 2011; $5,783,000; 2010; $2,581,000; 2009; $5,657,000. In our opinion if the trend continues, these figures will exacerbate future liability to the taxpayers and the corporation.
  2. Further, the audited financial statements for the City of Guelph in the comparison year did not compare to the figures of the previous year. For example, the 2011 statement showed 2010 expenditures of $309,198,000 while the previous audited statement showed a figure of $305,482,000. This is a difference of $3,716,000. Similarly, 2009 shows a difference of $3,668,000. In our opinion, expenditures exceeding budgets year after year produced by the required annual audit, does not imply confidence in the accounting numbers.
  3. The above data points out some of the imprudent financial decisions and management by the City of Guelph.
  4. The current administration created a municipal holding company of which the chief revenue component is Guelph Hydro. In the current year, the holding company, controlled by the Mayor and her cohorts on council plus two independent directors, approved a $2,995,000 dividend that was 96.7 per cent higher than previous years. Despite an income decline of 44.1 per cent to $1,057,000. The result was a 179 per cent payout ratio as dividends exceeded earnings. In our opinion, this withdrawal does not meet corporate standards of risk/reward and is a misuse of public funds.
  5. A non-budgeted and undocumented item that appeared in the 2011 and 2012 City of Guelph annual reports was used to boost revenues. In 2012, a $20,744,000 entry labeled “contributed subdivision assets” was stated while a similar item in 2011 totaled $9,901,000. Neither was in the budget. In our opinion these non-cash entries only serves to embellish revenues.
  6. A report dated April 10, 2012, from the finance department labeled “Unaudited Operating Variance Report” stated that the total enterprise budget had a favourable variance of $4,304,000. Please note that this occurred three months past year-end. Yet in the Guelph audited Annual Report dated June 27, 2012, the expenditure variance was a negative $5,783,000. On the revenue side, the variance was $39,495,000. Neither figure was remotely similar to that presented to Council. In our opinion this does not instill public confidence in the City of Guelph accounting methods.
  7. The reporting of financial data to taxpayers lacks clarity and accessibility. In our opinion, posting a 300-plus page 2013 budget document on the city’s website is not sufficient or accessible to most taxpayers.

Legal matters facing the city

  1. As of March 11, 2013, there are 16 court matters reported in the Litigation Status Report. In addition, there are 16 outstanding Ontario Municipal Board hearings. There are 23 insured matters to be resolved. In our opinion this represents a potential unfunded liability to taxpayers. (Current Litigation Report in attached as appendix A)
  2. An example was the city’s attempt to leave the Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health Unit. The resulting court case was lost but the legal costs incurred were never revealed. In our opinion this was a politically motivated attempt to opt out of a Provincially mandated Health Unit and failed to publicly disclose the cost to the taxpayers. Until the court case was settled, Guelph council’s representatives refused to attend WDG Health Unit meetings for many months.

Capital spending

  1. In our opinion, in 2011, the city breached its 55 per cent of current budget capital spending limit. Under the self-imposed limit, the 2011 debt ceiling was $94 million. Instead the debt rose to $121 million.
  2. In our opinion, taxpayers are concerned about city announcements of proposed capital spending projects including: A $73 million downtown library to be operational in 2017; a $37 million south-end recreation centre and then propose to spend $16 million to expropriate an existing commercial centre and convert it to a new riverside park.
  3. In our opinion, the capital and operational spending in Guelph’s downtown has created a vacuum preventing needed spending on projects in other parts of the city. For example, the proposed south-end recreation centre, to be built in an area where there has been substantial residential development in the past ten years, is proposed in the long-term capital plan.

Figures released by the city audit in 2012 showed that civic employee’s total compensation costs were 88 per cent of the city’s property tax levy.

  1. From 2008 to 2012. Guelph civic employees received total compensation increases of 31 per cent. In 2008, the city spent $124.8 million on compensation. In 2012, it spent $163.6 million. In our opinion this was triple the annual inflation rate during the same period.
  2. Between 2006 and 2012, during the period controlled by the present administration, City of Guelph employee’s costs increased by 68.1 per cent. Or 10.9 per cent per year. During the same period, the comparable employee cost increase of its peer group included: The City of Kitchener, (35.3 per cent), The Region of Waterloo, (42.8 per cent), the City of Cambridge, (29.6 per cent). It represents a 41 per cent increase in employment costs over the peer group.
  3. In our opinion the Guelph employee costs are excessive, in view that the population of the city grew by 5.8 per cent in the same period.
  4. Reference: Presentation to Guelph council by taxpayer Milton Burns November 29, 2012 based in city administration reports and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs FIR report, schedule 42 (Copy attached).
  5. Between 2006 and 2011, the city has had four individuals performing as chief financial officers. One of these was a deputy treasurer in the financial department who was responsible for managing the city finances for more than a year, following the dismissal of the previous CFO. Another candidate lasted one week on the job. The current CFO was hired in July 2012. In our opinion, this has resulted in a lack of taxpayer confidence in the management of the city’s finances.

Waste management

 Failure by the city administration to provide taxpayers the opportunity to comment on operational decisions, involving major capital spending of waste management projects.

  1. In our opinion the building of a $33 million organic waste processing facility (OWPF) without revealing details of the construction, operational costs and contractual obligations, represents a breach of fiduciary responsibility of the city council.
  2. The question arises as why the processing capacity of the facility, as approved by the Ministry of the Environment, is six times the wet waste needs of the City of Guelph.
  3. In our opinion selling the right to 20,000 tonnes of the facility’s capacity to the Region of Waterloo, without revealing the operating costs, has not served the taxpayer’s interests.
  4. In our opinion, City Council, without informing taxpayers or consideration of the accessibility to collect waste from all residences, awarded contracts totaling $15 million to install an automated bin-based waste collection system.
  5. This system is not available to 6,400 condominium residents due to the city refusing to pick-up waste in these developments. This represents 13.6 percent of the 47,000 Guelph households being forced to not only pay taxes for waste collection, but also pay private contractors to remove garbage. In our opinion, this is not fair to those homeowners affected.
  6. Terms of a contract with the Lystek Company of Cambridge that processes human waste to store and dispose of city treated solid sewage sludge have not been revealed. In our opinion ths fails to detail safe disposal.


 In our opinion, the present financial and operational situation in the City of Guelph will provoke future tax liabilities that cannot be corrected in a short time frame. Among these, is the growth of staff, defined pension and sick leave liabilities under OMERS and employee associations, of which the majority of civic employees are members. This will adversely affect the municipality’s budgets for years to come.

  1. Considering that in 2011, 52.2 per cent of city revenue was derived from property taxes, plus another 20.9 per cent in user fees, we request an independent audit of the city’s finances and operations to examine taxpayer exposure to current and future liabilities.

Respectfully submitted by the attached list of those supporting this petition.

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Big Box Boo Birds slam Lowes store development

Posted March 9, 2015

In a letter in the Mercury the writer bemoaned the development of big box stores in Guelph.

The basic argument was that small businesses provide jobs as well as the big boxes.

The writer criticized the mayor for supporting the impending Lowes building services company setting up shop near the new Costco outlet.

Didn’t we settle this issue about nine years ago when the council approved the Wal-Mart store on Woodlawn Road? The result was an expansion of the store to a Super Centre with food added to the mix and a steady clientele. Also there were the taxes paid by the company of more than $650,000 annually.

Mayor Guthrie understands that the city badly needs commercial and industrial development to reduce the property tax pressure on residential and small businesses. In eight years the ratio of commercial/industrial assessment has stuck at 16 per cent of the total assessment in Guelph. That leaves 84 per cent for residential properties.

It is encouraging to see the mayor reacting this way. He is on track and hopefully will be supported by council to bring balance to the property assessments in the city in the future to a 60/40 ratio, 60 per cent being residential and 40 per cent industrial/commercial.

Not only will this strategy enhance revenues but create jobs. But it’s a long-term exercise. This first step is just the beginning of achieving the goal.

Guelph is no longer a small town but there is an activist element in the city that wants to keep it that way. Such idealism is misplaced and now lost in the sands of time.

We’re growing up.



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Guelph Noir – The continuing dark side of municipal politics

Posted March 8, 2015

What happens to smart, experienced and seemingly popular people when they are elected to Guelph City Council? Why is there fear about what you say or do that might make you become a case for the Integrity Commissioner?

While Karen Farbridge was defeated in the October election along with some of her council supporters, plus two who retired, the remnants of Farbridge Nation are still running the show.

Still remaining is the residual fear of talking or discussing (with constituents) the important issues facing the city — because too much of the city’s business is conducted behind closed doors.

This is exactly how the former mayor managed city business. With the compliance of the majority of council who were her devoted supporters, this six-person executive team, all of whom were handpicked by the former mayor, solidly backed her up.

These city hall apparatchiks’ bureaucracy is rolling out the same self-serving political gruel that has occurred over the past eight years. That was one of the major issues in the October election.

There is growing evidence that it is business as usual as far as the senior staff is concerned after they released its draft operation budget that included a 3.05 per cent property tax increase. It did not include the total picture of the end cost to taxpayers. The automatic increase in property assessments, authorized by the provincial government, and its impact on taxes, is not included in the 3.05 pee cent increase.

With hamster-like regularity, the staff refuses to use zero-based budget forecasting.

The real issue is the planned secrecy by the current council in conducting the people’s business. Operating under a phony code of conduct, councillors are forbidden to say anything that is discussed behind closed doors. There are a small number of issues that are allowed by the Ontario Municipal Act to be discussed in camera: Those concerning staff performance, real estate and union negotiations, and major contract’s negotiations.

It is important to remember that conclusions of these items reached, in camera, must be presented and debated to council in open session and a timely fashion.

Issues that must be discussed by council in open meetings include: Debate on public issues such as major spending proposals; city operations including transit and waste management; taxes and user fees; public impact issues and long range planning.

In her eight-year reign as head of government, Ms. Farbridge carefully controlled the agenda behind closed doors. Council meetings were chiefly rubber-stamped by what was agreed in the back room.

More importantly, the mayor was able to control the message with press releases produced by her communications department.

There is evidence that the former administration was constantly looking for leaks in its Noah’s Ark of operations. There were meetings held in private to discover why information was being leaked to various people, including

The sword of fear of reprisal hung over members of that council. It now appears the same principle of secrecy is being foisted on the new council.

Why all the secrecy in city operations? It’s simple really. It’s about avoidance of accountability. It makes us Orwellian cogs doing the bidding of the city administration.

The Farbridge Nation people loved their leader and her leadership. Now that’s she’s out of office, the drumbeat of taxing and spending drones on.

The performance of the new mayor has disappointed many citizens. He pledged to keep the tax rate to the Consumer Price Index. Yet he voted to give the water department a 4.1 per cent budget increase. In the past four years the water department’s operating budget has allowed the hiring of 31 additional full-time staff.

He sent out a blistering email to an undisclosed number of people ordering them to ignore this blog and ignore me and do not “contact or respond in any public way.” He stated that my writing “goes horribly sideways”, whatever that means. After 594 blog posts and some 70 columns in the Mercury since 2007, what could possibly go wrong or even sideways?

The mayor’s hissy fit only points to his penchant to be a hostage of his own ego.

But don’t worry Cam, there is still ample time to redeem yourself and create an open, transparent and effective government, like you promised before the election.

I note that your confidential email mentioned that you are willing to talk in person. I will make an appointment to discuss these issues with you following final approval of the 2015 budget.



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