Published August 19, 2015
(Editor’s note) This is a letter to the Guelph Tribune that was rejected. We publish it in full in the public’s interest. It is of particular interest now that the city has published online a 2016 citizen’s do-it-yourself budget program. There will be more on this later.
The recent article by the Tribune’s Doug Hallett “Mayor, city staff not eye to eye on property tax” shows how absolutely dysfunctional are both city staff and the rump of Farbridge tax and spend councillors, as well as their recently elected ilk.
Doug’s enumeration of 8 reported different budget options illustrates the 8 “dead cat bounces” of a cat’s 9 lives. It would appear that staff is anally fixated on a dart board game of trying to choose how to maximize spending on their pet projects rather than considering what taxpayers really need.
Staff seems to have not gotten the voter’s memo (or didn’t understand it) who overwhelmingly endorsed Mayor Cam Guthrie’s platform of holding property tax increases to the rate of inflation.
Staff and council should recall in the late 1990’s BF (before Farbridge) that under the direction of councillor John Pate, the city operated with a zero-based budget process. However, once the Farbridge regime was installed, zero-based budgeting was replaced by tax and spend which saw taxes skyrocket by 85.7% while CPI increased by 31.8% over 12 years.
The 2015 tax increase, is the highest since 2010, and was opposed by only four council members (Guthrie, Billings, Van Hellemond & Gibson).
With Canada now facing a mini recession, it is time for citizens to contact the mayor and councillors to demand a zero-based budget process with any increase limited to the Canadian CPI.
If staff continues to have problems comprehending the need for such a budget process, they should be firmly reminded of the “voters’ memo” and to either comply or be terminated.
Glen N. Tolhurst