Public did not get a chance to hear about the proposal that could have reduced $1.46 million from the budget

budget 2021By Pepper Parr

February 24th, 2021



Just what was the hullabaloo all about?   It was about a possible $1,466,000 savings that had something to do with city hall staff remuneration.

Councillor Stolte looking for a response to her motion - put forward last April

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte had some ideas on where savings could be found – wasn’t allowed to talk about them. They had to do with how much the city pays its staff.

Details on just what was behind that idea were not made public because Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte was not given the opportunity to talk about her proposal in a public session.

We are never really going to know the whole story but based on what is available we can say this: no one in the city knows the Municipal Act better than Clerk Kevin Arjoon who managed to find several sections on the Closed meeting provisions to keep Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte from speaking publicly about her idea for reducing the size of the tax bite for the current year.

Stolte had an item on the BAR forms that didn’t have an amount next to it. It did have a note that it was to be discussed in a CLOSED session.

BAR confidential

The items Stolte had in mind were broken out by Staff who created a list of four items.

Council then went into a CLOSED session to debate.  We do not know what Stolte said, if anything, in the CLOSED session of a Standing Committee that lasted 12 hours.

There is a report that Stolte did not speak to her own motion while Council was in CLOSED.

Item 1 Defeated.Stolte Item 1
Item 2 – withdrawn


They then recessed until 6:30.

After the recess they then went back into Closed session to debate the other two items.

Based on what we have been able to piece together, we know that the proposal had to do with staffing.

Tim Commisso - finger up hard eyes

City manager Tim Commisso appears to have out the interest of his staff ahead of the taxpayers.

The city manager was adamant in wanting to get the discussion off the public table and have the views of Council members, particularly Stolte, away from the public.

More to follow on this one.  There are very serious grounds for the way large parts of the meeting were held, including Chair of the meeting, Rory Nisan, who called the vote on a Stolte motion but did not allow her to speak until after the vote – and then cautioned her on several occasions about what she was going to say.

More details on what happened will be the focus of a follow-up story.

The big issue for the Mayor at this point is where she is going to find the $343,735.00 to get the tax increase down to 3.99%.  As it is now it stands at 4.18%

More on that as well.

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

7 comments to Public did not get a chance to hear about the proposal that could have reduced $1.46 million from the budget

  • Joseph A Gaetan

    Having read the article and replies I am left wondering whether something substantive is going on and whether the electorate are being served, as they voted for change to the way council and the City Manager conducted business? This reads like a chapter in a mystery novel. I await the next chapter,complete with “facts”, please.

  • Jim Barnett

    Its nice to see Councilors Stolte and Bentivegna try to keep the cost of government down. The staff should not be allowed to protected their kingdoms in private meetings. Let the sun shine in!

    • Phillip Wooster

      I agree–when they are asking taxpayers to reach in their pockets to pay for services, salaries, and pet projects, those same taxpayers have a right to know all the deliberations. Transparency and accountability demand it.

  • Blair Smith

    I would like to offer two brief comments and an observation. First, that as the Clerk of the City of Burlington, Mr. Arjoon should be looking at ways to make every part of every meeting more open and accessible to the public not busy himself with obscure and ill-fitting rationales from the Municipal Act to justify closed sessions. Secondly, that this administration which campaigned on a platform of making City Hall more transparent and accessible has, to date, been one of the more opaque and distant in the Region – even within the constraints imposed by the pandemic. Finally, to Mr. Commisso’s concern that citizens not hear the ‘give and take’ of Council about staffing and, I would expect staff constraints, salary roll backs and Council pay reductions, he should go to the City Archives and resurrect the email memo of his predecessor, James Ridge. Mr. Ridge as well swore to “have staff’s backs” in a direct conflict with Council direction. He met a well-deserved and appropriate end. And isn’t this at least the second time that the topic of Council salary reductions has either been removed from the agenda or ported quickly into closed session? Oops, sorry that would be two observations


    Exactly how do you prevent a voted-in councillor from speaking at a Council meeting????

  • Phillip Wooster

    Shameful–it appears that City Hall are looking out for themselves, not the public who they are supposed to serve. The private sector has endured significant hardship during this pandemic whereas the public sector has suffered relatively little. But clearly what City Hall is saying is let’s inflict more pain on the private sector in the form of a tax increase so that we don’t suffer any hardship. A classic case of “I’m alright, Jack” that puts a lie to the myth that “we’re all in this together”.