By Gerry Barker
Posted October 19, 2015
Note: Revised October 19, 2015
Coming next week, exposing city finances – a three part series – Predicting the Federal election outcome- Moving to the mushy middle
Next Wednesday: The Farbridge Legacy saddled Guelph with high taxes, financial mismanagement and with your money
Part One of this series reveals a new, startling analysis of the per-person cost to live in Guelph. It is 50% more than residents of Cambridge and Kitchener pay. The analysis is an apples to apples comparison, prepared by a professional accountant, extracted from published official financial statements. The facts are clear that our city is saddled with operating costs that greatly exceed those costs of our nearby neighbour municipalities. How did this happen?
Part Two, to be published Thursday, October 22, is about putting Guelph on a financial diet. It is a plan to cut costs and bring property taxes and user fees in line with peer communities. After eight years of financial mismanagement and growing costs to citizens under former mayor Karen Farbridge, it’s time to pay the piper. Her policies have driven taxes and user fees higher to a point where the middle class can no longer endure paying among the highest tax rates in Canada.
Part Three will run in guelphspeaks.ca Friday, October 23 under the simple title: “Farbridge’s Fumbling Fungible Financial Folly.” If the alliteration fails to get your attention, read on because ‘fungible’ is the right word to describe how budgets and spending were manipulated by the Farbridge administration. It works like this: The staff prepares the annual budget with detailed allocations for funding projects and operations. Council approves it.
Then, what happens is a cost over-run occurs that was not forecasted so money is taken from a reserve or other less important funded project, to pay for it. Multiply this practice over eight years and it’s one reason your taxes, electricity, water and user fees have soared. The most recent example was taking $8,900,000 from three reserve funds to pay off the Urbacon City Hall settlement.
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Sometime I feel like the Sorcer’s apprentice figuring out the outcome of the Federal election.
So after hours of reading the polls, the tea leaves and chicken bones, (old Voodoo practice), here is the unofficial guelphspeaks prediction of the number of seats each of the four official parties will win, Monday October 19.
Before beginning this exercise there are 338 seats up for grabs. One of our sources was the Sauder Business School in British Columbia, which used a system of investors voting their choices with money. Now you have to take that seriously because it is meaningful and about money, not just a “who would you support today?”
So, here’s the guelphspeaks.ca federal election seat count that indicates a Liberal minority government.
Liberals – 140 seats
Conservatives – 129 seats
NDP – 69 seats
Greens – 2 seats
It would take 170 seats to form a majority government.
And what do the tea leaves and bones predict in Guelph?
Longfield 33%, Kovach 31%, Miller 28% and Seagram 8%.
Cluck, Cluck, Cluck
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Is Canada moving toward the mushy middle in the political spectrum?
The reports of the various pronouncements by the political parties, indicates a shift from the extreme positions of both Right and Left. Example, Thomas Mulcair moved his party from the enduring “tax and spend” policies of the NDP to proposing a balanced budget. Sacre Bleu, Monsieur. However, with the other social promises he made, the usual NDP dilemma and record, seem to diminish the party’s message and opportunity. He went from running first in the polls in early August to last in October.
Lesson learned? You can’t appear to be moderate and appealing to the base but promoting long-term and expensive social policies. Then there was the naqib uproar when Mulcair misread the feelings of his Quebec supporters.
On the other hand, Prime Minister Harper moved his party from right to left, promising more tax breaks for Canadians and strong economic management. However, his campaign was still sitting under the Duffy trial and the Senate misrepresentation of the facts by the PM.
The death knell came to the Conservatives when Rob Ford tweeted a photo of himself and his family with Harper. It was an ill-considered event tying in with the Fords as Rob, was mayor of Toronto, was a revealed drug user and alcohol abuser, embarrassing the citizens of Canada’s largest city for four years in office.
With friends like the Fords, Harper doesn’t need enemies.
Despite the pressing attacks by the Conservatives on Justin Trudeau, he established himself as confident and ready to lead the country. He accomplished this by presenting himself as an agent of change. He identified with the struggling middle class and opposed the fear propaganda that the Prime Minister was selling to Canadians.
As they say in showbiz: “It ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings.” She’ll be singing about 1:15 a.m. Tuesday morning.