Sunday, January 24, 2021

Budget Thoughts

Editor,

I read the recent coverage of budget talks. First, the fact that anyone was present at the final meeting is amazing, considering the significant COVID upswing.

It was interesting to read Mr. Bartley’s comments about ‘thousands of pages’, and challenging anyone to find cuts. (For the record, I have no issue with Mr. Bartley;j ust responding to the municipal sentiment that he voiced.)

First, the ‘thousands of pages’ was compiled mostly by staff, a group that I have long asserted is too high in number and too low in results. They have no motivation to reduce expenditures; if they can simply limit their budgetary increases, they’ve met the council-dictated guidelines.

I accepted the challenge of finding cuts long before it was thrown down. It’s just a shame nobody listens. Starting at least two years ago, I have spent hours on phone calls or e-mails with councillors, various administrative staff (CAO, treasurer, etc.) and staff managers. Some questions are answered, but if the truthful answer will show financial waste, it’ll usually be ignored or sidestepped. Any mention of staffing levels, or of staff acting in a negligent, unqualified, or just plain lazy manner is either foolishly defended or argued. I’ve never mentioned any wasteful or incompetent staff behaviour, to anyone, and been shown any interest in researching the problem. Employees of this municipality, at all levels are defended, it seems, no matter how little it’s deserved. Shifts of workers which are, by municipal policy, completely unjustified, or equipment which we own or lease at an obvious verifiable financial loss seem to be above discussion.

Probably the most frustrating example is watching, four days after the most recent late winter 2019-2020 snowfall, with bare roads, a grader drive its entire route, with the blades never touching the ground, then having this paid ‘drive in the country’ defended by a manager who didn’t even understand how snow removal is performed. (Same operator who I’ve mentioned repeatedly operates as though it was his first day in the machine with no training, winter or summer. Requests to meet with the lead hand at his convenience have also been ignored.)

There most certainly are substantial sustainable cuts in the operating budget. What’s lacking is a staff or a majority of councillors that will explore them.

So here’s my challenge to council and staff: Work obligations and fear of COVID have kept people from the meetings. Instead of the typical online survey for future expenses or programs, run another one, asking one question of the taxpayers: Where do you see the potential for cuts? Just please give the responses the attention they deserve. In this manner, suggestions are on record and harder to ignore. I’ve taken your challenge before you even put it down. Will you take mine?

Bill Cameron, Bognor

Popular this week

Snitching and Shaming Have Been an Unfortunate Side Effect of the Pandemic

Lock-downs, stay at home orders, physical distancing, and mask wearing have all made for a frustrating and stressful past 10 months, but what I...

Meaford Fire Department Welcomes New Chief

The Municipality of Meaford has announced Courtney Allen as the new Chief of the Meaford Fire Department. Allen comes to Meaford from the City of...

OPP Enforcement Under The Stay-At-Home Order

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is requesting that Ontarians voluntarily comply with the new Stay-at-Home Order to limit mobility outside their homes, except for...

Latest news

Snitching and Shaming Have Been an Unfortunate Side Effect of the Pandemic

Lock-downs, stay at home orders, physical distancing, and mask wearing have all made for a frustrating and stressful past 10 months, but what I...

The Pet Expert: Canadian Pet Food Brands Leading The World in Innovation

Recently, Canadian Pet Connection released their Top 21 Canadian Dog Foods of 2021 rankings; an update to their wildly popular 2020 article that receives...

Grey Sauble Conservation Offers New Membership Pass for Residents of the Watershed

The summer of 2020 showcased a renewed interest in the outdoors for many Ontarians, who visited parks and conservation areas in record numbers. The...

Increase in Proposed Developments Reignites Concerns About Wastewater Treatment Plant Capacity

A growing number of proposed residential developments in the municipality has reignited concern about the capacity of Meaford's wastewater treatment plant. The facility, located on...