"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

Sunday 17 April 2011

Comment On The Budget

Every time I use the name Citizen Blog I feel like a character in a Tale of Two Cities, a Dickens novel about the French revolution in Victorian times. Other aspects of my life  contribute to the same feeling.

I commented on Citizen Blog yesterday that a cut made to the library budget was hard but consistent with others in the town's budget.

Cost  of an additional  fire crew  was reduced by  25% due to the complement not being in place for  a full year. The same logic was applied to new town staff and followed through with the single addition to  library staff.

We provide resources for library service. We have no authority to direct how funds will be used.

In the same comment to Citizen Blog, I indicated I cannot defend other aspects of the budget so easily.

I need to explain that.

The last election demonstrated real and serious dis-satisfaction with  the previous council. Four incumbents  were booted out unceremoniously.

Because I was there. Because I kept people informed through this blog, no doubt exists in my mind as to reason for the election result.

People wanted no more  pandering to special interest groups, no  giveaways to people with perceived political clout,no sponsorships with questionable return, no more  inconsistent application of  grant policies and  no further access to massive spending by groups without accountability.

An egregious assault on rights and  intelligence was  uncontrolled spending on legal fees for invalid  purposes and deliberate withholding of information about the full tally.

In the third year I requested a  total for spending on legal fees. After first agreeing to accede to the request, then sufficient staff prevarication and a contrived resolution to conceal the true extent, the information was simply withheld.

The voters wanted that changed. They made it  abundantly clear.

The current budget does not make the change.

The pattern begun in the last term, is being maintained.

User fees continue to be waived, sponsorships with questionable return , massive funds  provided to groups without accountability,  financial rational for increase in water rates that fails the test of scrutiny, all this and more swell  the 2011 budget.

Little is changed. Little is corrected. 

It is not what I hoped.

Speaking for 5322 voters, I  refuse to accept.

If it passes as it stands, the first budget of the new Council  will not receive unanimous support.

With regret.


Elizabeth Bishenden said...

Thanks for the post on the Aurora Citizen acknowledging that Council can only reduce the net amount of the Aurora Public Library's contribution from the Town Budget. The Council cannot direct the use of the money. Michael Thompson was quoted in The Auroran giving the same information.

The current way of communicating the budget to the community (and presumably councillors as well) is so lacking in detail as to leave those of us who are interested without a shred of information.

Departments report revenue and expenditures, sometimes linked between departments, and they don't tell the sources of the revenues or the recipients of the expenditures.

I know that in the past, there were some silly discussions about line items (I believe the "birthday cake" discussion was huge) but perhaps we could get a moderate amount of information based on various facilities and their use.

Then, as citizens, we can voice our opinion about expenditure and usage.

Anonymous said...

No surprises here.