Just Bitchin’ – Letter to City Hall

They have asked for input from the public with regard to the upcoming 2013 municipal budget exercise – so I provided mine.  On re-reading my rambling rant – I probably should have waited until cooler heads prevailed – it does go on and on……but, such as it is, I do earn my right to whine!


Let me start by saying I am not the least bit happy with a 2.5% annual budget increase.  That number has been talked about to such an extent, it is almost now considered the de facto starting point and IT SHOULD NOT BE SO!!
I spent 30+ years in the private sector and have a pension with zero cost of living increase – ZERO, not 2.5% – and a much smaller pension than a public sector one at that.  I’m not complaining about my pension – I’m darned lucky to have one.  I am concerned  that everything EXCEPT my pension continues to go up and up and up, resulting in my disposable income going down and down and down.  After working hard, saving hard, buying a home, paying for a home, worrying about finances is not how I saw myself spending my retirement years.  Property taxes are a significant chunk out of my monthly income!!
I feel concern when I see my municipality involved in things I believe to be outside of a “municipal mandate” – such things as long-term care facilities, social housing, buying strange works of art,  while our roads and infrastructure are falling apart.  These things should be left to the provincial folk.
I want my City to treat tax dollars the way most households treat their income.  You must prioritize!  You start with the “must haves”.  If there is budget money left over, you move to the next priority group. We seem to spend a lot of money on “nice to haves”.  WE CAN NO LONGER AFFORD THESE.   I have never felt a sense of accountability at the municipal level.  Mr. O’Brien had great ideas but found himself all alone in a sea of people who prefer not to rock the boat.  WHERE ARE THE REAL LEADERS?  Is re-election really so important?  Or – given the union strongholds, can anyone ever really lead???
I want you to start the budget exercise with a goal of decreasing the overall budget by 10%.  If this is set as a REAL goal, maybe the bright minds that are being paid the big bucks at city Hall will actually think of some good ways to  reduce expenditures!!  Do you think the unions would allow this???????….and therein may lie the real problem.  More and more, the unions seem to be running the show – in public sector at all levels.  There is something very wrong with this picture.  I don’t believe that there is a place for unions in public sector, funded by us, the public and I am appalled at how strong they have become.
I want SOMEBODY to take on the unions.  More, More, More, simply cannot continue.  With the exception of firefighters, policemen and paramedics, staffing at the municipal level is probably 30% higher than it needs to be.  Nobody HAS to think of better and more cost-effective ways of doing things…..in fact, anyone who does is considered anti-union.  Eegads!!  What has happened to basic work ethic?
I have lost faith. I have lost faith at the municipal level, the provincial level and the federal level. I now fully expect to see a minimum of 2.5% increase in the city budget.   I don’t think we can afford to be as GREEN as we would like to be.  I don’t think we can afford to run programs that run negative balances (e.g. green bin) – lovely ideas – but NOT AFFORDABLE.  I want a return to common sense!!!  Remember that?
Lastly – you will not see me attending one of your town hall type or open forum/discussion meetings.  Special interest groups take them over, standing at the microphone with tomes of paper and droning on and on about stuff that is of no interest to the average person.  Set aside special meetings for special interest groups and I will start to attend the real people meetings once more.
Lovely idea to ask for input – it may give many others besides myself an avenue through which to vent.  My expectations are, unfortunately, abysmally low.

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