They didn’t get the memo?

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


Filed under Between the Lines

4 responses to “They didn’t get the memo?

  1. Doak McCraney

    I totally agree I have had numerous letters to editor and to the mayor councillors stating that all city spending should be based on needs not wants in our current economy ..Needs are infrastructure , garbage renewal , snow removal etc NOT added bike lanes unless the contractors awarded are willing in bid process to include bike lanes that do not detrement traffic flow or seize owners properties ..I think bidders for the high priced roadwork would be happy to work these things in where they make sense. Also our city bylaws should be reviewed to deal with common sense not pitting neighbour against neighbour than staffing could be looked at in those areas as well. Budgets should be steered by council not left to staff unelected to handle the public purse. You would be surprised hw some councillors responded to me how the reasons for high budgets are somehow federal governments fault

    • Doak McCraney: Don’t get discouraged. There are more and more people ready to protest the way our city is being run. The truth is the time has come to reinforce with council and staff the cold hard facts that the majority of citizens voted for change. Now we want it.

  2. Gerald

    I cannot understand how Kitchener can have a budget ties to rate of inflation and Guelph cannot.Do they not face the same problems as Guelph?Same population growth?Same infrastructure problem?
    No to them all.They have a mayor and council that over time has been putting money away for infrastructure were Guelph has been spending the money on pet projects(white elephant on dunlop rd,bike lanes,lawsuits from urbacon,cashing out the hydro debt for more employees). They have money for segragrated bike lanes were guelph roads go on “diets”.THey have money for bridges and a urban train system (ion)were Guelph barely has a operating bus system.I say it is time to do some down sizing for city staff and save some money.

    • Gerald: Now that’s a name I like! You are hitting on all cylinders with your comments. The city is overstaffed with some 700 added since Farbridge gained office in 2007 or by 50 percent. The population grew by about 5 per cent during that time. While her administration fiddled with cockamamie schemes, residential assessment remained at 84 per cent versus 16 per cent for industrial and commercial assessment. That’s dangerously treading economic water for eight years.

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