Tag Archives: 2017 Guelph budget

A 19th century French philosopher exposes Guelph’s disasterous socialist experiment

By Gerry Barker

December 15, 2016

This week a commentary in the National Post addressed Premier Kathleen Wynne’s new “Patients First Act.” With an approval rating of less than 14 per cent, Ms. Wynne is desperate to resuscitate her failing tenure with another plan that will directly affect the traditional sanctity of doctor-patient confidentiality.

This Act will allow government agents to inspect the doctor’s business and an individual’s medical records without a warrant. They may copy records and doctor’s business details. They may question a patient on matters relevant to their investigation. This macabre Act Bill 41 is supposed to monitor local integrated health networks to ensure these organizations, controlled by central planning, are delivering efficient, compassionate service.

Didn’t the Stalinist Communist central -planning -system failures lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union?

This law treats our right to privacy with casual disdain. Section 12.1 (6) says inspectors can’t look at your records without either (a) your consent, or “(b) in such circumstances as may be prescribed.” And keep your arm up, because in a blizzard of Wynne-Speak jargon, Bill 41 alters 19 different statutes. These days, that’s how government works.

Alexis Charles Henri Clérel de Tocqueville was a 19th century French diplomat, political scientist, and historian.

He warned, writing in Democracy in America, that given half a chance the state “covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform … The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”

Isn’t that a stunning portrait of the administration of the city of Guelph? Isn’tlike the crumbling of the Soviet Union, after ten years of authoritarian control of our city by a group of leftists, led for much of that time by former Mayor Karen Farbridge?

In Guelph, these central planning powers are rampant across the city’s administration. Look no further than the recent 2017 budget, approved by nine members of council with only three opposing, Christine Billings, Dan Gibson and Bob Bell. Coun. Phil Allt was unable to attend for medical reasons.

In the past two years, seven members of city council, supporters of the former mayor’s agenda, has dominated continuing central planning polices to turn our city into a socialist community that failed to evaporate with her defeat in 2014. Want to talk about the millions spent on waste management? Reducing vehicle lanes on major roads to accommodate bicycle lanes? Turning new developments into high-density housing with no open space and most with no garbage collection?

Comparing democracy with Socialism

Here is another apt quote of M. Tocqueville: “Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom, socialism restricts it. Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number. Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: Equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.”

That’s how it works in Guelph and the Liberal government in the Province of Ontario that has endured 13 years in Office. Both governments are shameless and dedicated to a socialistic agenda under the guise of progressive action.

The finances of both governments are in a shambles. In Guelph, we are experiencing an administration that continues it’s spending on projects large and small but with little attention on the costs associated with running a $500 million corporation.

Here are some examples:

The 1,950 city staff, not counting the managerial staff or part-time workers, is bloated and badly needs a rationalization study, preferably performed by third party experts to, dare I say it, cut the fat?

Witness that a year ago when council was told that a total staff rationalization program would cost $550,000. Adding13 new staff for 2017 costing more than twice that seems incredibly stupid and careless of the people’s money. The majority control of the administration seems only capable of hitting the property tax ATM’s and wallets of the people with a state that “covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform”: Alexis Tocqueville.

Here’s another example of your council playing with your money. The 2016 budget included $700,000 for new parking meter heads so the city could use the revenue to help pay for the proposed Wilson Street Parking garage next door to city hall. Sounds like a plan, right? Well the parking meter heads were pushed into the 2018 budget. Council voted to use some $650,000 of it to launch a final design of the proposed South End Recreation Centre. The end price tag of the design plan was an estimated $3.500,000. That’s just to design the actual complex, mind you..

They did this without any capital to build the estimated $65 million centre. Again, the $60 million downtown library was pushed into the unknown future. The authors of all this were the two Ward 6 councillors and the majority went along with it. It’s nothing but a political move to ensure that Mark MacKinnon and Karl Wettstein get re-elected. Residents in Ward 6 are being used by council to believe their Recreation Centre is on its way

A final thought on this boondoggle: The $3.5 million design plan has a lifespan of five years. Factoring in inflation and the continued make-believe financial theories by staff and council, there will be an estimated $70 million needed to spend on the South End Centre.

The approval of council to budget $5,000 for a concert by some well-known band in the future that the Mayor got all tizzy about probably because he may get invited to play the drums with a name band.

Cam, why not spend it on the geese that are fouling our parks so the folks attending don’t have to sidestep the droppings?

Only some outside expertise on how to live within our means and a lot of common sense will straitghen out the Guelph finances. It has taken 10 years to put the city in this hole; it will probably take another ten years to make our city affordable and livable again.

Aux Barricades, Mes Amis!

 

 

 

 

 

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Why does the city administration ignore reducing the costs of overhead?

 

By Gerry Barker

December 12, 2016

To the people who manage our city – the senior staff and city council – last Wednesday’s 2017 budget discussion was just another day at the office.

Again we face increased taxes with little attempt to reduce the costs of living in Guelph that have substantially increased since the advent of the Farbridge dominated council in 2007.

The root cause is the cult of infallibility. It is a state of government that largely ignores the basic interests of the citizens. For eight years, there was no recourse for citizens to object or complain about the rising costs of living here.

Then along came Urbacon and the citizens reacted predictably by defeating the mayor and two of her loyalist councillors while two other decided not to run.

Yes, the only recourse a citizen has occurs every four years. There is no right to recall or dismiss elected officials. Nor is there any opportunity to question the management, the hired professionals, who, for ten years now, have continued the failed policies of the former Farbridge administration.

Nothing has changed since 2014. There are now eight councillors who continue to support the past record of mismanagement, that wasted millions on failed projects, and worst of all, lack the expertise or willingness to reform a broken government.

Now we know that the Group of Seven progressives, who have been in control of city council for ten years, believe they are infallible when it comes to running our city. At the same time the four realists on council face a difficult, if not impossible task of reforming the way the city is currently being managed. In the middle is Mayor Guthrie who walks a tightrope between the two factions in an attempt to maintain harmony and compromise.

It is now painfully apparent that the eight progressives’ stubbornly believe that they are infallible and know what’s best for the city and its residents. They are mostly ordinary folks with limited experience in overseeing a corporation worth more than $500 million. What they do have is the support of a senior management that essentially is running the city.

Citizens make their views known but are largely ignored.

Even when an experienced professional expert, Pat Fung CPA CA, presents a thorough eight-page analysis of four years plus, of city financial operations compared to other like-sized cities, the senior staff and Group of Seven progressives ignore the details and solid advice.

In fact they added ten new permanent employees to the staff. Four were Paramedics to serve Erin Township through an agreement with the township.

So while the weekly Guelph Pravda newspaper weighs in claiming that the new budget cuts the fat, somebody must have had a thumb of that scale.

The Fung report nails the root cause of our runaway taxes on all levels. Property taxes are up 10.08 per cent since the Mayor was elected. Remember? He promised to create a “Better Guelph” and keep property tax increases to the rate of inflation. How’s that working for you?

For some inexplicable reason, the senior staff fails to consider what each resident must pay to live in this city. They disregard the ever-growing cost of staff and liabilities, electricity, water, storm water maintenance, Wynne’s carbon tax and city services user fees. My complaint lies with the annual assessment increases that hit property owners every year. Each property valuation uptick adds revenue to the city.

Regardless, we still get stuck again with a budget increase of $3.13 per cent. Oh! We are told that a house assessed at $350,000 with the increase of 1 per cent, jokingly known as the “infrastructure levy,” that the increase will only amount to $120.

I had hopes that CAO Derrick Thomson would clean up the high cost of operations that are 50 per cent higher that either Kitchener or Cambridge. Despite the warning of the progressive, cutting overhead costs does not mean cutting public services. It’s a myth perpetrated annually. Thomson did not help when he warned last September that public services would not be cut in the 2017 budget but did not mention overhead.

Yep, the thumb is still on the scale and the people are stuck with it.

When they believe they are right and continue to tap the purses and wallets of the people, that’s because they believe they are infallible. There is only one guy I know that carries the rite of infallibility, and he lives in Rome.

The only way it can change is coming in October 2018 when we can elect responsible and experienced people to represent the people’s interests. When you have a councillor, Mark MacKinnon, says that because your home has increased in value, you can take out a reverse mortgage or refinance an existing mortgage or take out a second or third mortgage to pay your taxes. Spoken like a mortgage expert.

 

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