Mayor describes the tax increase of 5.45 % as a staff wish list that won't pass

By Pepper Parr

October 28th, 2021



Tom Muir, a regular Gazette reader and commentator said he “ saw the Mayor on CHCH TV this morning and the budget was covered. She said 5.45% is a wish list, is too much, and will not be approved.”

In the budget discussions we have heard so far not a peep from the Mayor on what she thought was an appropriate level of tax increase Council could accept.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward reported to have described the 5.45% budget increase as a “staff wish list” that would not be passed.

To say publicly that the budget is a “Staff wish list” is disrespectful and condescending in the extreme.

Joan Ford and her crew work hard on the budgets and they look for ways to trim costs where they can.

Ford, who fully understands how municipal budgets work, struggles to get this Mayor to understand that reserves are in place for a reason and they are to be respected.

How Meed Ward convinced herself that more than $4 million could be taken from the Hydro Reserve fund and used to pay for a wave break at the LaSalle Marina.  The decision was so egregious that City Manager Tim Commisso said aloud that he would begin looking for ways to group the Reserve funds so that it wasn’t so evident just how much money was kept for extreme situations.

There are still those recovering from the flood of 2014.  The city had reserves in place then that allowed immediate spending to clear up the creek beds and repair the bridges that had been damaged.

Staff takes their lead from Council.  To have people in the finance department working their tails off only to learn that their efforts are seen as a “wish list” hurts.

An apology might be in order.

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2 comments to Mayor describes the tax increase of 5.45 % as a staff wish list that won’t pass

  • Phil Waggett

    An interesting admission by the Mayor which validates an earlier post (which you didn’t publish) about the lack of a proper budgeting process at City Hall. If department managers are being encouraged to submit “wish lists”, the focus is on spending and not on CONTROLLING spending. No line item analysis or evaluation of existing programs appears to be done; hence no budgeting that shows respect to the taxpayers of this community.

    Editor’s note: The city treasurer reports each time budget items are being discussed that her staff do as line by line review of the budget.

    • Philip Waggett

      Reply to the editor’s note: I’m sure the City Treasurer may review the numbers that are submitted to them but they don’t control the data that is submitted. Is the City Treasurer in a position to evaluate individual department programs and decide if those programs continue to have merit or if they can do programs more efficiently? I think that is left to the department managers. Once again I would emphasize if “wish lists” are being submitted as part of the budget, it precludes departments being instructed to find savings or to operate within tight parameters. I must admit that I have no knowledge of how this process works and as a taxpayer I find that very troubling.