March 27, 2015
The voter crusade for a Better Guelph died early Thursday morning with approval of the 2015 budgets.
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.