By Gerry Barker
My 9, 2018
Editor’s Note – Guelphspeaks faced some computer glitches last Sunday as we attempted to launch a new post. We’re back in business now. GB
If you like cheese, as I do, council was unable to turn Limburger into New York cheesecake when the opportunity arose. You will see how a majority of council voted to eliminate online voting in 2018, the Committee of the Whole (COW), the merger of Guelph Hydro and Alectra utilities aka “the Great Guelph Giveaway.”
The heady scent of Gorgonzola lingers over the council chambers today as Mayor Guthrie gushes about a linkage with the County of Wellington to win $100,000 in some vague lottery of spending other people’s public money. Go figure.
The relationship between County and City is strained, has been for some time.
Over the years the city agreed to share the cost of public health services with the county. Mayor Farbridge, who was on the public health board at the time, objected to the cost of building a new public health headquarters on Stone Road costing some $17 million.
She sued to get out of the arrangement and lost so without consultation, the project went ahead and cost Guelph some $10 million.
Ah, the sweet whiff of cheddar melting on a hot apple pie.
Another handout by the City to the County was to handle the affordable housing file.
The result that in ten years there was no construction of affordable housing in the City but the towns and hamlets in the County received affordable housing units.
If I didn’t know any better, was this decision made by Guelph Council to prevent lower income people from deflowering the Royal City? Just asking. Was it an elitist Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) decision?
These are a few examples why Guelph should assert its mission as a city of 131,000. The city’s needs and interests are different from that of the County of Wellington. The city is now a Provincial and Federal riding within its city limits.
It means we need to elect councillors who have experience, are responsible, understand financial data and are politically positioned in the centre.
The problem we face is old town rules that state a councillor only works part-time so should be paid on that basis. We will never solve this problem until we increase the salaries of the 12 councillors. And make them full-time. What is the cost to double their salaries? It’s just $840,000.
We only get what we pay for. Raising the salaries and benefits for councillors will attract well qualified candidates with a subset of truly representing the people
My argument is basic. These 12 alleged part-timers are responsible for overseeing a $500 million corporation. Yet 80 per cent of the $380 million annual budget is going to the paid staff who work for the council, our representatives..
Consider the $ 130,000 salary paid to the Mayor. He is the head of the community. Yet the four top senior managers earn more than $200,000 a year and the numbers trickle down among the ranks of the remaining 90 managers.
The way it is now, anybody with some $3,000, which is what it would cost to run in a ward for that $35,000 part-time job.
This is how the former administration kept control. Many of those successful councillors accepted campaign funding from unions as well as some deep-pocketed NDP supporters.
We cannot do much about it now as the current system remains in place until the new council is elected next October.
By electing councillors in the majority who are not ideologically bent, are beholden to no one and love their city enough to run for council, only then can we return the city to one of the most attractive and affordable in the country.
Unfettered public participation in the affairs of our city is a high calling.
Please pass the Camembert and crackers.
NOTE – If you are thinking about running for council, and have questions, feel free to contact me at email@example.com so that we may connect for an interview. Your information will be confidential and respected.