So we’re Number One in job creation, what about Guelph’s other Number One’s?

By Gerry Barker

Posted January 18, 2016

While Coun. Phil Allt exalts in the news that Guelph’s unemployment rate is lowest in Canada at 4.2 per cent; he has no qualms in voting for tax increases of 11.1 per cent in his first year in office.

In his first term as councillor, property taxes for 2015 and 2016 were approved. But there are other wrinkles. Council also approved a 4.15 per cent transfer to debt to pay for excessive spending of operations and capital.

Mercy me, I read a column in the Mercury by Kitchener Record reporter, Greg Mercer, who covers baseball and general assignments, applauding the job opportunities that Guelph offers, without being specific.

So, in the public interest, here is the cold hard truth. StatsCan does not measure the residency of the workers in Guelph. All you have to do early in the morning is see all the cars entering Guelph from other municipalities. Same thing happens at the end of the workday when workers return to their homes in Kitchener, Cambridge, Fergus, Rockwood and Puslinch.

Even the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, Mark Amorosi, the senior staffer responsible for the City of Guelph’s financial management, does not live in the city. He pays his taxes in Hamilton, his home away from the job.

This is another reason that the cost of living in Guelph is 50 per cent higher than either Cambridge or Kitchener. Creating jobs can only be positive if the worker resides in our city and contributes to its operations.

That does not happen with these ghost workers who migrate daily from other jurisdictions and do not contribute a dime to support the city where they work.

We’re Number One, we’re Number One.

Oh, yeah.

Well, we’re tops in Canada for property tax rates, user fees, debt, electricity, and water rates. We have a waste collection system that fails to service more than 13 per cent of the population. Did I explain that property owners, who do not receive city waste collection, pay for it anyway through their taxes?

Our city council is controlled by a Gang of Seven councillors who caucus regularly and independently from the rest of council in their assigned committee room in City Hall? I don’t think the Ontario Municipal Act permits this.

Did the report in the Globe and Mail investigate what happened in building a new city hall that was originally contracted to cost $42 million but ended up costing $65 million?

Has city council dealt with the $23 million shortfall? It wasn’t even mentioned during the 2016 budget meetings.

Speaking of which, while city staff recommended a ten-year, two per cent automatic property tax increase to pay for more than $250 million in infrastructure changes, council bounced that one down the road referring it to a committee.

Still feeling that Guelph is Number One?

Consider that Guelph’s public servants are highly unionized. The city alone is 80 per cent unionized. These unions supported the Farbridge administration, that in turn, was generous with contract increases and improvements.

.Now let’s look at the real number of mostly unionized public servants, Both federal and provincial employees, and the University of Guelph. This city has more employees earning more that $100,000 a year than any other city of similar size in Ontario.

These jobs are secure, highly paid and totally guaranteed by the municipal corporation.

How many Linamar employees have that kind of lifetime security, wages and benefits guarantees?

When our Mayor comments in the Globe and Mail puff piece that he is bringing business to Guelph and that the city is prospering, is a great sales pitch in a national newspaper. He is a salesman but the problems still exist and won’t be solved by hyperbole.

The trouble is that the baggage and costs left from the previous administration are still there. For example, when Mayor Cam Guthrie took office, he was unable to replace the Farbridge administrative assistant in his own office, due to contrived union rules.

The deep-set problem with Guelph is that the unions are still in control through their support of council’s Gang of Seven councillors.

There are so many issues in this city that need to be addressed by intelligent and concerned residents through actively supporting reform.

The dominant Gang of Seven are, for the most part, incompetent and irresponsible members who are echoing the policies of the previous administration that almost brought the city to its financial knees.

So, without public input, Ann Pappert, Chief Administration Officer for the city, agrees to allow DCAO Mark Amorosi, to oversee the finances of the city. Amorosi hired a General Manager of Finances and City Treasurer to manage the city finances. This is a job that this individual has never held before.

This is the underlying problem with which the citizens have to understand and trust the management of their stakeholder interests.

It’s complex and the special interests group that have controlled Guelph for more than eight years, are still in charge.

Now, do you still believe that Guelph is Number One?

They can’t even pick up all the garbage.



Filed under Between the Lines

14 responses to “So we’re Number One in job creation, what about Guelph’s other Number One’s?

  1. Glen N. Tolhurst

    Does the job growth for Guelph include the addition of 19 FTE’s to the city 2016 budget? Does it include a 3 year contract for some guy to do something with transparency? Note the union contracts between the city and CUPE that states “no employee with two (2) or more years seniority shall be laid off as a result of the City contracting out any services or work performed in whole or in part by members of the bargaining unit”. Sounds like “jobs for life”! The city must have had a real sharp person negotiating that contract. I guess that’s why taxpayers are treated like ATM’s for unsustainable yearly property tax and water rate hikes pushed through by the Gang of Seven. Have they not noticed the national media are mentioning tough financial times for Canada for the next 4-5 years?

  2. Jerry

    What they do not realize is the job creation in Guelph is mostly temp work or part time.Now with this type of situation how is a person going to afford a house or even be able to support his family.The job numbers for Guelph is all hog wash.These numbers do not include the thousands of people that have given up on jobs searching.I see they do not give the percentage of the part time compared to full time.I am wondering what the percentages are?.If you can Gerry try to get that info and post it and maybe that will open the eyes of these false politicians.
    And how many of these jobs are minimum wage or just above?So sure people in Guelph are working (barely surviving)but how many of us are
    really living the good live?

  3. booomer828

    I am enbarrased to have James Gordon as a representative council member in my ward. That asshat voted FOR the traffic diet on Speedvale between Stevenson and Woolwich knowing full well his electorate was 90% against. That’s acting on behalf of the people? This crew of left wing assholes have their own agendas none of which represent the wishes of the majority. It makes me sick that we are back to the same old same old…

  4. joseph paul phelan

    My entire family have moved from Guelph after it being our respective home for more than 4 decades….sad when you have to move from a home town because of bullshit city hall has created over the past number of years…sad to leave but don’t miss the bullshit or the taxes

  5. Joe Black

    And you haven’t spoken about the roads and traffic yet!!!

  6. geo

    Don’t forget our sweetheart deal with Detroit where we import their garbage and in return they import ours. All that truck traffic created and guess what Detroit does with our garbage……… they burn it in an antiquated incinerator to create electricity. Apparently we use their refuse to make mulch.
    Remember how all this resource innovation center nonsense started with the Eco- Nazis railing against all this truck traffic destroying the environment hauling Guelph’s garbage away? Now the traffic has doubled, were contributing to Detroit’s air pollution and not a peep, not a whimper, nary a sound from the previously outraged Nazis.
    All that time and money squandered, don’t forget the center had to be built twice, to make things worse.
    In Guelph environmentalist has become a synonym for coward and hypocrite!

    • Geo: In a galaxy far, far away, The former Fabridge administration decided to mulch instead of burning our garbage. Since then it has spent millions trying to prove their decision. Nobody knows about the real cost because it is a secret. But the perpetrators of this multi-million dollar waste management scheme are all gone. The mayor, the former environmental executive director, Janet Laird, the author of this mess, her general manager, Dean Wyman and a number of unnamed underlings who have departed.

      But we’re stuck with paying down the cost of this ridiculous, unworkable decisions. Because of the Farbridge plan to only allow multiple family development, poor planning and lack of coordination with other departments, some 13 per cent of residences and business in the city do not receive garbage and recyclable materials pickup. It’s because the $15.5 million collection system of using automated trucks and bins cannot function due to many cases of poor planning. The environmentalists will scream that incinerating garbage will contribute to polluting the atmosphere. There are thousands of such sites in Europe where they have mastered control of incinerator pollutiop. Nearer to home there is the massive new incinerator plant being built in Durham Region and the Halton regional plant operating on the 401 near Georgetown. Do they know something we don’t know?

  7. bostoncollie

    I recently attended a meeting of council and came away marvelling at this group. Quite a few self important people that love to hear themselves speak. At least one that did not speak a peep. Another asking questions that had already been answered. People need to pay more attention to the competency of their local council members. We’re saddled with this bunch for another few years.

  8. Glen N. Tolhurst

    The comment above by “bostoncollie” highlights the major problem with city council. There are 3 members of the Group of 7 who are past their “best before date” in that they are serving in their 3rd or more term on council. As “boomer828” noted we are subject to the “same old, same old” with the inevitable result as noted by “Joseph Paul Phelan” of having to move elsewhere due to, among other things, the taxes. Since we don’t have the option of recalling councillors, the only way to have a council that serves the people of Guelph is to have Wettstein, Hofland, and Piper do the proper thing and RESIGN. Then we might have the opportunity to have a council that isn’t perpetually raising taxes and backing a growing costly civic bureaucracy to meet their wants rather than the citizens’ needs..

  9. Fred

    Gerry you forgot another number one. We are number one in drunk students standing on the road screaming at 2 in the morning. We are also number one in paying bus drivers double time on holidays to drive empty buses.

    • Fred: So many Number One’s, so little time!

      When we have so many self-important twits running the city, we can expect more propaganda flowing from the office of Open Government and Transparency. It is nothing but an expensive mouthpiece for the council majority of seven. This majority voted in a bloc to fund this operation by $263,000 in the 2016 budget. Farbridge supporter Andy Best was hired last July as a contract worker at $92,000 for one year. With this new deal, the betting is he’s got himself a full time job with all the perks.

      The question remains, was this position advertised and were there other applicants? Want to bet it wasn’t?

  10. My son is a very educated young man with 14 years experience and he has applied for numerous city jobs in Guelph for which he was better qualified far then most . He has never even gotten an interview. Now I am not saying that he should have gotten the job , But , he did deserve a second look. It seems to me that in order to be considered for a job with the city of Guelph you must know the right people. Aside from that , the people in charge should at least make it look good and grant a few interviews even if they already know who they ARE GOING TO HIRE AHEAD OF TIME. Guelph used to be a great place to live. Maybe Joseph Paul has the right idea, MASS EXIT.

  11. Deanna

    Hey Gerry,

    I’ve read your blog for some time now as well as seen you to chat about the continuously poor decisions being made by staff and by osmosis a certain 7 members of council that we all know. With the number of problematic decisions being made by the 7 and so many individuals upset with what’s going on you’d think there was something we could do to get all or some of them out!
    Yes city hall staff have a monopoly on new hires as well as how our money is spent but there must be a way to influence getting the 7 out of the fairy tale land they’ve created for themselves. It’s obvious they don’t want things to change. Who would?
    I’m not a political animal but would love to see change. I’ve lived here for over 20 years and things are worse now than ever. I’ve taken time to write to and call my councillors but nothing changes. In fact it’s an exercise in frustration!

    We’re middle class and are feeling the pinch! Moving is pretty drastic so what options do we have?
    Any ideas you have to share would help many of us.

    • rena

      If you do not find it too frustrating, please keep trying to communicate with our mayor and Councillors. Hopefully someone will finally get the message.

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