"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Monday Last

And another long drawn out budget session . We sat from seven until eleven fifteen p.m. and didn't finish the agenda.

The Historical Society were invited to provide a history and justification for the continuation of a $50k. annual grant.

A market vendor thanked us for the invitation to provide a mess of figures to suggest if we hand over $7,800 to pay for a manager it won't cost taxpayers any money at all.

The Treasurer discovered an additional chunk of money has to be sent to South Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority for restoration of the East Holland River and provide trails and other amenities in East Gwillimbury. We got into that at the beginning of this term without a staff report. It was a mistake that needs correcting.

We still haven't finished the Leisure Services budget. Director Al Downey is like a ping pong ball in a game with six players taking turns at smashing him into the table.

While the Public Works Director walks on water.

The Librarian and several board members were there at seven . At 10.45 p.m. we got around to the library budget. We cut it.

Three hundred and thirty one thousand is being handed over to the outfit managing the Church Street School. Add a $140ks for the cost of operating the building and that's half a million of brand new spending for a brand new program.

We have not had the benefit of a presentation to inform us of what's going on over there. Apparently, according to the agreement, we are obliged to simply hand over the cash and let them do their thing.

The only thing I've noticed is how many town functions have been transferred to the Church Street School. They are not cultural events. Not Historic. Not artistic. They are run-of-the-mill town functions. It's not even clear our use of the facility is free.

We have yet another budget meeting upcoming on Monday night.

Every question I ask has to be re-formulated by the Presiding Member. Extensive fulmination is added to staff answers to illustrate my feeble comprehension in contrast to the Member's superior intellect.

Hours drag by. Staff sit opposite with no role to play. Blank expressions alternate with feigned interest while eyes struggle not to reveal passing thoughts and avoid meeting any glance for fear of being outed .

I already know I am not going to support this budget.

I will not vote to hand over more than three hundred and thirty thousand dollars to the reclusive management of the Heritage and Cultural Centre without even the courtesy of a visit and an update on their activities.

I will not vote for $7.5ks for a Gala Opening of the facility during an election year.

I will not vote for $50k annual grant continuing to the Historical Society. Only recently they required a legal agreement with the town to protect their million dollar investment in renovations to the Church Street School which they committed to manage independent of the municipality all of which I accepted and supported which turned out to be nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

I will not vote for additional expenditures for new management plans for properties we do not own and reflect huge bites out of our assessment base.

I will not vote for $100ks for the Arboretum. Another vision I swallowed holus- bolus that turned out not to be what it seemed.

I will not vote for $231ks for additional management positions that came out of a re-organisation study that cost $65ks and created titles like Executive Leadership Team for what used to be simply Senior Management . Director of Infrastucture and Environment for what was Public Works . Director of Customer Service and goodness knows what else in exchange for Town Clerk. These small indices may not represent a substantial financial cost but extravagance in verbiage instills no confidence in me that all else is well.

I will not vote for almost three hundred thousand additional taxes to subsidise taxpayers several years down the line. Where's the equity in that notion?

I will not vote for a budget that doesn't allow for grass in the parks to be cut when needed. Or tree branches pruned that strike pedestrians in the face while pushing a baby stroller on a town sidewalk. Or the extra cost of controlling weeds without using undesirable chemicals.

I will not vote for a budget that doesn't allow library staff to maintain the same level of service provided the year before at a time when people use it and are in greater need of the service than ever before.


White Knight said...

If you are considered to have "feeble comprehension" then where does that leave Gaertner, Granger, Gallo and Wilson?? God help us! ... and thank Him for you.
As for the Arboretum: When I went to school and learned Latin, "arbor" meant tree. As a relatively new resident in Aurora, I searched for the town's arboretum at the noted intersection. I didn't see any trees to speak of, not even saplings, in what looks like a piece of unattractive scrubland. Please explain the arboretum to me - its history, purpose, how it has become what it is and why everybody raves about it.

It Makes One Wonder said...

It Makes One Wonder said...

Will these "Executive" designations come with increased pay grades? Is the mayor trying to buy staff loyalty with 'nicer' titles (and potentially better remuneration)?

Why is Al Downey (the last remaining holdover director) no longer the Director of Leisure Services but is now the rather more prosaically-titled Director of Parks & Recreation?

One of these things is not like the others.

November 24, 2009 9:50 PM

Well, that answers some of my earlier questions.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for keeping the public informed. I can not understand how the Town can keep adding staff and wasting money $65,000.00 on consultants to give a report on staff and titles for staff members when private business is cutting back expenses. I agree that we should have a proper report on the Church Street School before money is just handed to them.
We should be looking for ways to cut rather than waste.
Thank you again