Tag Archives: Guelph Police Services

This U of G professor believes the 2020 Guelph Police budget increase of 9.81 per cent outweighs the need

By Gerry Barker

November 4, 2019

Opinion

Dr. Rene Van Acker, dean of the Ontario Agriculture College, part of the University of Guelph is urging people to protest this increase requested by the Guelph Police Services Board.

It seems to be a clash between the academic ivory towers and the 24/7 protection and services of our community.

The professor obviously has never performed shift work, carried a gun, investigated fatal collisions and major criminal occurrences, attended domestic violence calls, and responded quickly to cases that engage citizens.

In short, this is a city with a university sitting in the middle. Often, Guelph police are called for support to control student behaviour on and off campus.

Think weekend’s downtown, homecoming, St. Patrick’s Day, and political protests.

It seems stranger to read the professor’s letter to the editor in which he refers to the proposed 2020 police budget as “outweighing the need.”

How would Dr. van Aker know the details of police operations to make such a statement?

He ignores the night and day risks that our police endure on a routine shift. He criticizes the Mayor that he “senses” that people want a professional and responsive police service, night or day. And Mayor Guthrie should know because he sits on the Police Services Board along with Coun. Christine Billings.

So the unsubstantiated complaints from Van Aker over the 2020 police budget rings hollow because he does not identify the needs of the police services.

The Ontario Sunshine List shows that three times in the past six years, Van Acker has received more than a 7 per cent salary increase. It was topped off in 2018 with an increase of 7.69 per cent earning a yearly salary of $235,000 plus benefits.

Dr. Van Aker should look beyond the police services budget and consider all the other services that citizens pay for, including the public safety personnel who are engaged around the clock.

The city administration must raise sufficient revenue to pay for the scores of public services plus the cost of primary and secondary boards of education. One can only imagine the operating costs of those institutions that function 10 months of the year.

The U of G pays $1,600,000 per year in lieu of property taxes. The payment is based on the number of registered students, currently estimated at 22,000. This was a deal granted in 1987 to public post-secondary institutions. The rate is still fixed at $75 and has not changed since.

Lets compare the impact of inflation that this deal has ignored for more than 32 years. All costs have increased. Are your property taxes fixed for 32 years? Has the university increased tuition and student fees and land leases in which it derives income?

Keep in mind that the chief revenue sources of the city are property taxes and user fees.

Our property taxes have more than doubled in the 16 years we have lived in Guelph. It is this property tax deal with the University and Conestoga Community College that remains fixed and only increases when additional students enroll.

About Guelph Transit

Students are required to pay $75 per semester for bus passes. It’s ironic that this mandatory contribution to access public transit is twice what the University of Guelph pays the city in lieu of property taxes.

This is particularly advantageous to the university because it is, we believe, to be the largest landowner in the city. The management over the years has leased its land to a variety of commercial and residential developments.

Seeing that these developments are on University lands, does this sweetheart deal extend to those leased properties as well?

In the 32 years of this arrangement, the city has grown, requiring citizens to pay for the need for increased city services. That is a subsidy that is unfair and needs revision.

Unfortunately, this would have to be a decision by the provincial government. It involves more than 600 post-secondary institutions in the province.

Our representative in the Ontario Legislature is Mike Schreiner, Ontario leader of the Green Party, a party of one.

This affects a number of municipalities and an independent committee of mayors and chief Financial Officers need to negotiate with the government to update the property tax arrangement.

It will be a daunting task and predictably the University of Guelph will oppose changes to any proposal that will increase their property tax commitment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A collection of news snippets people are talking about

By Gerry Barker

October 2, 2017

How council sabotaged the property tax infrastructure levy

Last fall when the council was finalizing the 2017 city budgets, the staff proposed a one per cent special levy on properties. The levy was to pay for the backlog in needed infrastructure repairs and replacement.

Well, Councillors Mark MacKinnon and Karl Wettstein proposed that the levy be increased to two per cent with one per cent being used for “City Buildings.” Council in its wisdom, decided to postpone spending $700,000 for new parking meter heads downtown until this year’s 2018 budget, with negotiations starting next month.

Instead, those funds were diverted to help pay an estimated $3.5 million for the designing process of the proposed South End Recreation Centre projected to cost $63 million. So instead of installing the meters this year, it would have alleviated the downtown parking problems and generated an estimated $650,000 annually. They went ahead and approved preliminary funding for a major project without any prospect in the ten-year capital budget to pay for it. This is the budget that CAO Derrick Thomson admits is currently $170 million in the hole.

It is yet another case of “kicking the can down the road” with a net result that nobody wins. The city does not have $63 million for this project but MacKinnon and Wettstein have successfully committed the city to build it. Or so they may think. Isn’t this an election year coming up?

Yet this council approved spending $20 million to build the Wilson Street Parking garage that will be mostly used by city hall employees using monthly passes. Toss in the $34 million police headquarters renovation and the financial cup runneth over.

The financial hole keeps getting deeper and deeper.

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Go Figure department: Trump fiddles with the NFL while Puerto Rico perishes

Wrapping his toga around his Imperial rotunda, Donald “Nero” Trump takes on the National Football League calling the players “Sons of Bitches” who protest disrespect by certain police officers towards people of colour. His Romanesque rants came on Twitter two days after the U.S. island territory of Puerto Rico was flattened by two Hurricanes. He hardly mentioned the fact that 3.411 million Americans were desperate for the basic needs of life.

This malignant narcissist billionaire demonstrated yet again that he doesn’t care about people. Besides he said that the governor of Puerto Rico was delighted with his government’s support as was the Mayor of San Juan. Wrong! Nine days after the second of two hurricanes hit the Island, they were pleading for more help and news reporters on the scene confirmed this was a disaster of historic proportions.

Last week was a lousy one for the Trumpster. The third attempt by the Republican Congress to repeal Obama Care and replace it with a cobbled-together bill never came to a vote in the U.S. Senate. The independent Congressional Budget Office said if the bill passed, “millions” would immediately lose their health care plans. In the end, it was not even brought to a vote in the U.S. Senate because three Republican Senators said they would vote against it. In 255 days in office, Trump has failed to advance any of his campaign promises for congressional approval.

But he found time last weekend to sharpen up his golf game at his Bedminster golf club in New Jersey. His current approval rating is 36 per cent according to the Gallup Poll.

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Surprise! The storm water levy revenues exceed projections

Back in July, council said it favoured rebate to taxpayers who are charged a monthly fee to maintain the city storm water system. Last year, the city Engineer, Kealy Dedman, presented a detailed plan to service the city’s storm water system. The revenue projection was exceeded in 2017’s Q2 by $600, 000.

This report prompted council to seek a rebate to customers. If any clear thinking councillor thought this out, the administrative cost to carry out the proposal could cost more than any increase in revenue.

While expectation of increased revenue makes most of us shudder because we know it is another boo-boo in forecasting budgets. Better it’s a surplus and not a deficit.

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We lose $2.5 million in recycling waste and the investigation will take nine months

The failure to reduce waste processing costs. The waste management service review report is delayed until next March.

The previous administration spent millions on collecting and processing waste to protect our environment. At the same time, the management disregarded areas in the city that did not receive the waste collection and disposal. The reasons are varied, including bad planning by the city, union work rules, incompetent financial management, terrible contracts and intransigence to fix it.

The estimated 6,000 households and businesses were forced to pay private contractors to collect and dispose of their garbage but still pay for the service through their property taxes.

Will someone explain why we spent $34 million on an organic waste processing facility seven years ago to serve the needs of Waterloo and Simcoe County? The compost produced by the plant is not available to the people who built and financed the facility.

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Trashing the city 101

The University of Guelph Homecoming Weekend resulted in students and assorted drunks trashing the city with garbage, lewd behaviour and disregard of public property standards including the right to live in a safe and clean city.

The Guelph police admitted they could not cope with the calls by citizens to put a stop to the behaviour and carnage in many residential areas where there is student housing.

Now it’s ironic that the Guelph Police Services announced its two-month “Safe Semester” program to maintain, we assume, law and order. Instead, much of the city was treated like Animal House complete with intoxication, lewd behaviour and property trashing including the University’s permanent residences.

The U of G President apologized, as did Mayor Cam Guthrie.

The questions remaining: Who was responsible, how many carousers were arrested, who cleaned it up? If the city staff had to do it, send the bill to the University.

After all these years of Homecoming Weekends and St. Patrick’s day celebrations, one would think that the Safe Semester programs in the future should include the resources to prevent such a civic transgression as this was. It calls for strict and severe penalties for carrying open carry of alcohol and use of cannabis or any other drug. It also needs a strong police presence with equipment to arrest revelers who get out of line.

The message from the top should be, this will never be tolerated again and those who ignore the law and rules of behavior will be charged and spend the night in jail.

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Don’t mess with Tuxedo, our neighbourhood cat

We live in an enclave of 22 homes where we know each other and enjoy our secluded collective lifestyle.

And we are blessed with a very unusual cat named Tuxedo. He is black and prowls the neighbourhood checking any infiltrators and gratefully enjoying the odd saucer of milk.

Tuxedo maintains a route every day to keep the chipmunk and bunny population to a minimum. He is the Great Black Hunter who wants to make his human boss proud and never hungry. Look what the cat dragged in!

This is one cat with personality. He’s our cop on the beat and the subject of many conversations driven by neighbour’s sightings and reports.

Tux is no ordinary mouser. He dropped by the other day for a lactose-free milk snack and I asked him who would win the first game of the NHL season Wednesday night: Toronto or Winnipeg?

He thought for a moment and said: “Toronto has depth but it will be close. Toronto 4-2 with Marner getting an empty-netter with 33 seconds left on the clock.”

Igasped. Where did that come from? Tux hopped down from the table and was gone.

If you are ever in our neighbourhood, look for Tuxedo. If you don’t see him he’s either sleeping off that last saucer of milk, busy stalking a squirrel or studying the Vegas odds sheets for the Sunday NFL games

This cat’s work is never done.

 

 

 

 

 

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