"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

Wednesday 31 July 2013

A Daily Chore

I was hanging out my wash in the early morning. The sun was warm , the breeze was blowing about my ears and I could feel my hair . I thought about how long I'd been doing this chore and enjoyed it as much today as I always have.

Standing there , pegging out the garments one at a time thinking about things as I always have ,means nothing  whatsoever has changed about the moment.

I have another  routine of doing a quiick mental calculation about the price of something bought in bulk, as opposed to  single packaging. It isn't always cheaper.

That took me to thinking about  two hours of a Council meeting  spent in social chit-chat,no town business being accomplished  and the cost of the exercise.

Nine department heads are in attendance at meetings.  Add the Mayor and combined salary of three  other staff and we have a multiplication factor of twelve.

An average  salary of $156,000 a year makes the calulation simple.

Weekly salary is $3,000. Daily  is $600. An eight hour day  costs in excess of $80. per hour per person.

Two hours therefore is  $160 . Multiplied  by twelve amounts  to $2000.

That's the  salary cost of those two hours.

The figure is relevant . Time  staff spend at Council meetings entitle them to time off in lieu or  additonal salary.

Regulations changed a few years ago requiring municipalities , to pay staff for  additional hours rather than provide time off in lieu beyond a maimum number of extra hours worked.

The last  Council meeting  started at six and lasted until  midnight. We didn't complete the business. Not all staff were present all the time.

But all were present for the  social  chit-chat was happening , when no town business was being accomplished.

In the first year of the term budget discussions, Councillor Able told Council he had not met anyone complaining about high taxes.

For the Councillor that apparently meant we could increase taxes without concern.

It's an example of where we differ in  our view.

The average tax bill, without including water,sewer and storm water pond charges,  was $3,600. It
represents $300  a month

If a person living on old age security, unemployment insurance or government long term disabilty has  an income of $1,400 a month, a Councillor should not need to be told  property taxes are a totally disproportionate  amount of that income and represent a considerable hardship.

A home is often the only asset to show for a lifetime of work,  supporting a family, paying taxes
and contributing in many ways to the community.

Watching it swish down the toilet at a regular Council meeting by  mis-use  of the corporate business meeting to promote interests of  various  organisations that  have nothing to do with town business or expensive administrative staff  doesn't make it easier to accept  unnecessary tax increases.

Councillor Abel and myself are a canyon width apart on the  issue of burdening the community with regular tax increases.


Anonymous said...

WHy do you and Able not have this out in council chambers instead of in a vaccum?

Anonymous said...

During the last meeting, the Treasurer, seeking to ' simplify a # of accounts by rolling them into one '- so Councillors would not have to worry about where the money originated-noted in an aside that he had enjoyed the 3 hour drive from the lake & was anticipating the return 3 hour trip. I assume we get dinged for that time & travel as well ? Me, I don't have a lake property to visit.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure we can lay all this baggage at the feet of Councillor Abel. He has been the most vocal but that budget was approved by more than just his vote. And the Mayor did write that weird letter claiming low taxes were irresponsible. If we are going to go after the budget, all those who voted in favour must all be in our sights. Just saying.

Ironic, don't you think said...

I hope that you thanked the previous mayor for fighting for your right to hand out your wash!

Anonymous said...

Councillor Abel is in great company when it comes to spending our money. It seems most of the council members do... with the exception of you and sometimes Councillor Thompson. I keep hearing "Improving the quality of Life to all Aurora residences", "it’s part of the Strategic Plan!" as the excuse for spending more money and raising taxes. But hey...that's ok. York Region is $2 billion in debt. Pictures of Detroit should be sent to all Cities and Municipalities as a reminder..."This can be you!!"

Michael Suddard said...

@Ironic, don't you think...

As a former neighbour of Evelyn's I would note her house was built in 1949 as one of Aurora's first developments. The restrictions on hanging out your laundry does not apply to the original Regency Acres development. Those development restrictions came long after her house was built.

In fact many of the houses in the area have had wire pulley clothes lines for 40+ years.

Not ironic afer all said...

Michael... thanks for the update... I guess sarcasm is as elusive as a good place to eat for under $10.

Anonymous said...

Councillor Gaertner simply follows instructions from Councillor Ballard. I had hoped, not expected, for a bit better from Councillor Humfryes.

'59? said...

Mr Suddard, you're off about a decade on Cllr Buck's house.

Anonymous said...

Oh, are you ever on the money with this one. Councillor Abel will never get my vote. He is not worried in the least about increasing taxes to fund some of his schemes. He is already on record as saying taxes will increase.

The Mayor sits on his hands in his comfy seat at regional council and does not bat an eye at yearly water increases fives times the level of inflation. Pretty tough to get by without water for those pensioners struggling on fixed incomes.

Overall, the performance of this council is slipping quite rapidly for all the reason set out in councillor Buck's posting.

Michael Suddard said...

@'59 Could be.

I just based it off of the old manhole cover on Knowles Crescent I distinctly remember saying "1949" on it.

As a youngster, we used to use that as home plate for baseball games. 2nd base used to be a crack in the pavement. These are long gone now after Knowles was reconstructed.

Michael Suddard said...

@Not ironic afer all said...

Sorry, I missed the sarcasm. Normally I'm quite good at picking that up. :)

Anonymous said...

4:12 PM
We have to be careful about wishful thinking. That old lot with their old angers lurks in the background. Do we really want a return to legal shenanigans, anti-development paranoid activities, codes of conduct, witch-hunts & bullying ? Watching Ballard/Gallo/ Gaertner go after staff, that guy from Lucid and any other ' enemy ' makes me cringe.

Anonymous said...

I have a sneaky suspicion that some of these comments are coming from some slimy sources. This Mayor and council are not perfect, most would agree that they're better than the last. Councillors Gallo and Ballard have been beating their chests lately, election season is around the bend.

I'm sure they blame you for the downfall of the old regime, what sweeter revenge then to try to use you as a weapon against this lot. I would not put that type of dishonesty past them.

Anonymous said...

5:00 PM
Yeah. If you check Ballard's Twit Parade, Herself is up there going on about how ' we ' will do better. The subject actually appears to be development. Scary stuff seeing as how she has her new lawsuit against Aurora.

Anonymous said...

Mr Suddard, I'd wager that your "home plate" manhole cover was more likely to have read 1959. Regency Acres didn't start to be developed until the late Fifties. In 1949, that land was still part of a farm.