Sunday, February 25, 2024

Suggestions For Budget Season

Dear Editor,

The best news I’ve read in a while was the coverage of Grey County council sending staff back for a major re-calculating of this year’s budget. The county has, for many years, been a shining example of inefficiency, with equipment they can’t justify owning, and a constantly growing administrative staff, with many in supervisory positions spending their days commenting on various boards and committees, while accomplishing little. In other words, just like Meaford. The better part of this event was the details of the recorded vote. Apparently, Meaford’s two representatives were both in favour of rejecting the budget. Is this a signal that there is hope for us also?

It was infuriating to read a quote in this paper in 2021 from a councillor who claimed there were ‘hundreds of pages of budget documents, and no savings to be found’. Anyone who has ever managed a business or in this case, a municipal government, knows that when the pressure is on, there are always savings somewhere; you just need to dig deeper. They won’t all be million dollar efficiencies, but every small amount adds up. The same councillor further embarrassed himself by falsely stating that any taxpayer with suggestions should step forward, but none had. Utter nonsense. By that time, that councillor, and every other that would respond, likely had my e-mail address memorized, as I had frequently questioned inefficient municipal practices that fell into my realm of experience. I didn’t just complain; I offered sensible alternatives involving lower costs. All were either ignored or argued (by people who did not have the same experience or expertise in that field).

In November, I sent a lengthy file to most members of council, outlining all the major inefficiencies and unnecessary spending that I had found (without needing to look very hard), that had prompted me to run (unsuccessfully) for council in 2022, after finding little or no interest from any councillor or staff member to show any interest in changing our unproductive methods. With or without that file, or my previous three years of unproductive communication with council and staff, the ability to trim costs and allow taxes to eventually equalize with the levels of other area municipalities has always existed. What has been horribly lacking is the willingness to make difficult decisions to make it happen. Hopefully the right path has been created by the county budget vote to change that problem.

Bill Cameron, Bognor


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