By Gerry Barker
Posted November 1, 2015
Here’s this week’s line-up:
* Wishful thinking department: A 1.58% property tax increase for 2016?
* $50 Grand to study the geese in the parks problem?
* While the boss fiddles in China, the Legislature is burning
* Don’t you wish our cops would keep their guns in their holsters?
City Staff to propose 1.58 per cent tax increase November 10
The city released an executive summary of its proposed tax-supported operating budget for 2016 on the city website. The details are yet to come when council receives the staff’s full proposal November 10.
The summary indicated that the city would transfer $37,547,080 to reserves and reserve funds.
Where is this money coming from?
Is it included in the tax-supported operating budget proposal of $213,203, 925? On the surface this appears to be a modest operating cost increase over the $207 million budget of 2015. But some $37 million?
Are the three reserve funds used to settle with Urbacon Building Group part of the proposed reserve payment?
Will this be a repeat of last March when the council majority pushed the staff proposal to 3.55 per cent at the 11th hour of the final approval by council?
You remember, Coun. Karl Wettstein pushed through a reduction of the repaying $900,000 to the raided reserve funds to $500,000 for 2015. Then along comes Coun. Mike Salisbury with a proposal to double the amount spent annually on bike lanes to $600,000. It remains to this day a manipulated effort to maintain the Farbridge administration’s promise to spend $300,000 a years on bike lanes. Salisbury said that the money was not spent in thru 2014 budget so council voted to double it for 2015.
This example of kitchen table financing is why Guelph citizens’ per-person costs of the city budget are 50 per cent higher than those in Cambridge and Kitchener.
Don’t hope for a property tax rate of 1.58, this dance is underway and the best we can expect is a rate increase under 3 per cent.
The problem is the staff and council will not cut costs. Our city staff is growing exponentially to a point where it is not sustainable with the taxpayer’s ability to pay.
Sorry if I sound cynical, but I’ve been to this party before and understand how the budget is manipulated to please individual councillor’s agenda and sloppy financial management.
Solution? Hire a smart, experienced Chief Financial Officer and stop the manipulative money games played by both staff and council.
Remember, it’s your money.
* * * *
Turning a goose problem into giving refugees a Christmas dinner
The city has announced that it will spend $50,000 to a goose consultant to figure out a way to force the wild geese to go elsewhere. The University of Guelph uses trained dogs to solve its goose problem.
Their geese probable end up moving their population to the safer havens of city parks and recreational areas where there is ample supply of water, grass and nesting facilities.
The geese aren’t stupid; they know a good thing when they fly over it.
But here’s the ultimate solution. First, we have to get the Federal government to donate a CF 17 military transport plane to move the captured geese from Guelph to, say, Hungary, Germany, Slovakia and Croatia.
To facilitate this, we hold the first Guelph Goose Festival. This will be a happy event with the gathering of the geese in comfy cages with lots of water and grass. Just think, everyone gets involved with prizes awarded to those who herd the geese into their destination abode. The use of border collies to herd the geese facilitates their next destination.
There will be fly always, but we are a determined lot.
The confined geese will be transported to CF Base Trenton where they will be flown to those countries that are overloaded with refugees. Throttling back, to allow the geese to enter a new air pace, the geese will be discharged to land in their new home.
Welcome to our world! Everyone gets a Christmas dinner.
Is that not the Canadian way?
* * * *
When all else fails, book a trip to China
Our beleaguered premier, Kathleen Wynne, is in China on a trade mission. Trouble is she has left her house in the midst of a conflagration that has managed to tick off just about the entire Ontario population.
Two weeks ago it was the revelation of the teacher unions’ payoffs of $2.5 million to negotiate their contracts. The Minister of Education, Liz Sandals, states not only are the payments “normal” but also have been going on since 2004. It’s more than $7.1 million of your money and all done in secret. The Globe and Mail got a copy of the current payouts agreements that revealed $2.5 million was given to three teacher unions.
So Sandals then admits that the unions supplied no receipts to support the payments. Then she says the system is “ nothing to do with anything.” Really?
But it gets better. Just before taking off for her China mission, the premier announces that the unions must supply receipts in order to receive the money. Liz Sandals, her former friend and Minister of Education just had her political legs cut off by her boss.
Today (Sunday) the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and the Ministry are to agree or, as the premier has dictated, they’ll be docked pay for their work-to-rule actions.
The delicious irony of all this, the ETFO refused to go along with the settlements made with the three teacher’s unions who agreed to a 2.5 per cent increase over two years. That did not include the million dollar payouts promised.
It is important to know that the ETFO refused to receive the money offered to settle so could this be a case of retribution by the Wynne government for not playing ball? If no settlement is reached today, the Wynne rollbacks kick in and the chaos remains.
This is the worst bungling of union/government relations since former premier Bill Davis gave the Roman Catholics the right to receive public funding of separate schools from grade one to grade 13. Billions of dollars since, Ontario remains the only jurisdiction in North America with a two-tiered public education system, based on religious preference.
Tell us Premier Wynne; will that be shark fin soup or Kentucky Fried Chicken? Perhaps a little Tse Tao to wash it down?
* * * *
Why our police don’t like to talk about personal gun control
This week the Mercury published a story about a police officer that drew his loaded service weapon in police headquarters. Fellow officers confronted him over an hour before he was relieved of his 9 millemetre, semi-automatic service weapon.During those tense moments, pointed his weapon at fellow police officers and they also pointed their service weapons.
So what do you think? Is this a serous management problem to be solved, or a cover-up of the blue fog?
Start with the officer using his service issued weapon to threaten fellow officers in POLICE HEAD QUARTERS, and now returned to duty and not being charged.
Now when did this incident occur? Oh! We don’t know. The police are not saying. The chief, or whoever was chief at the time, decided to not only investigate but ask a member of the Waterloo Regional Police Services to tackle the job.
What happened to the civilian oversight on this case?
So here’s the score folks: Blue 2, citizens with the right to know the truth, 0.
Why wasn’t the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) called in to probe the gun issue, as it was a police gun issue of an officer using his service weapon to threaten other officers?
This coincides with the killing of a patient in the Guelph General Hospital by two Guelph police officers. The blue lid is slammed shut because the SIU was authorized to investigate. The two officers, who allegedly fired the shots killing the man, were back on the job days after.
That occurred months ago and there is still no explanation of the events by the Guelph Police Services Board or the SIU.
If the cops have the right to clam up under the Ontario Police Act and their union contracts, what does this do to the ordinary citizen who has placed their trust in the police?
Why is a officer who pointed his gun at fellow officers in his station house, still on the job? Is he on the streets, tucked away in some administrative job or undergoing treatment for his totally unacceptable behaviour?
The citizens deserve straight answers.