By Gerry Barker
March 4, 2019
This past week, I experienced a five-hour examination designed to challenge my credibility as a citizen, a taxpayer and homeowner. It was a crucible to discredit my persona reputation and that of my wife and family.
I won’t go any further than that, as it has become a two year plus legal case that will be resolved so therefore I cannot comment at this time.
What I can address are the details of the 2019 budgets that are now reaching a crescendo of policies that will impact every part of your life and living in Guelph.
The core problem is the ineffectual management of the city by the staff. Let’s drift back a week or so ago.
Chief Administration Officer Derrick Thomson “parted ways” with the city. Why the sudden separation in the middle of the city budgets’ preparations over which he oversaw?
As the head of the city staff, the staff proposed a property tax rate set at 3.93 per cent.
Before getting too excited, there is a process of meeting in which the public can appear before council to express their needs and demands.
Tomorrow night, March 5, council will approve the new property tax increase.
History shows that several influences arise.
First, the sitting councillors have their chance to promote their pet projects. This creates a political adjustment such as you, as a councillor, add your project to the list. Something has to go in order to keep the property tax rate under 4 per cent.
Are you starting to get it? First, announce a staff recommendation of 3.93 per cent. This is done before the citizens request their projects be approved. There are a wide range of projects requiring the blessing of the mayor and his council.
* They include an appeal of the Kazoo festival supporters along with the Guelph Arts council to “plead for more funding for the city’s Community Wellbeing Grant to assist small arts organizations.
* Head of the Guelph Transit union wants more funding to support finding for nameless improvement but Transit has the go-ahead to hire three more drives. Did management not have a say in this? It would be helpful if Transit would total ridership, the route usage and impact of the University student passage contribution, compared with taxpayer subsidization.
* Steve Dyck quickly wants the city to spend another $1 million this year to fulfill its commitment to reach zero carbon emissions. Steve, the transition from fossil fuels will take at least another 50 to 75 years, if ever. Steve, how’s it working for you?
* A delegation protested the increase in their monthly parking fees from $40 to $100. Is this part of Steve Dyck’s zero emissions proposal?
* A number of advocates for affordable housing to accommodate those marginalized citizens to be able to have a home.
There were a number of citizens who, in the main, asked for public funding. In my opinion, this has been a problem for years. But should the municipal taxpayers be responsible? The administration can certainly support it through planning and expanding projects. Financing should come from senior governments and the private sector.
Today, we have no CAO, a triumvirate of three skilled DCAO’s in charge of the city staff its responsibilities and financing.
For 12 years I have been advocating reducing city overhead chiefly to fix the city infrastructure deficit. Unfortunately, council does not agree, instead it includes in the 2019 budget an additional 17 new employees at a cost of $9.2 million.
In my opinion this is a self-serving staff recommendation that lacks detail of where and what are these new staffers supposed to do? The city information releases don’t offer any rationale for recommending these new employees.
What Guelph needs now is a cadre of experienced and qualified staff leadership. We already have the base of individuals to refocus management and turn our city into a model that will attract businesses, technology firms and make our city a great place to live and be affordable for all.
Let’s loosen the surly bonds of misguided management that has sucked the treasury dry in the name of progress and the environment.