The 2018 budget was passed at Monday’s meeting with an increase of almost 5%. Once the estimated growth of 1% is factored in, taxpayers in Orangeville can expect to see an almost 4% increase on the Town portion of their tax bill.
By now you have probably heard that the reason for the increase is that a motion to hire 8 full-time Firefighters was passed on Monday. And I am sure you are confused by this because as you know, the motion to hire 8 new Firefighters failed at a meeting in October. According to the Rules of Reconsideration, this motion SHOULD have only been allowed to come back to Council if one of the members on the winning side (Mayor Williams, Councillor Kidd, Councillor Garisto or Deputy Mayor Maycock) wanted to bring it back for reconsideration. This motion should not have been allowed to come back to Council at this point, in my humble opinion.
Here is how it all began. Councillor Garisto wanted to introduce a motion to remove an item for the Operating Budget ($210,000 for a Compensation Review), but a motion for this item in particular had already been voted on at a prior meeting. Councillor Wilson called for a ‘Point of Order’ to let the Mayor know that this motion should not be allowed based on the Rules of Reconsideration. Mayor Williams replied “I try to keep the budget a little less formal. I try to make it more like a committee than Council as a whole to allow a little bit more discussion.” Councillor Wilson replied with, “We act as Council and I think we have to adhere to our own rules.” Mayor Williams disagreed, “As Chair, I am taking this as a valid motion. If you wish to challenge the chair, you can certainly do that.” and they proceeded to call the vote on this repetitive motion.
After that vote happened (which failed again by the way), Councillor Wilson said “Since we are not adhering to Rules of Reconsideration, I would like to make a motion that we hire 8 Full-Time Firefighters in 2018.” His motion was seconded by Councillor Campbell. Deputy Mayor Maycock, who had initially voted against the hiring of the firefighters, suggested that $300,000 of the cost come from the Rate Stabilization Fund so that the full $800,000 wouldn’t impact the taxpayers in the first year. Maycock stated that he would happily support the support the motion if that amendment would be made. Once that amendment was made, the vote was called and Councillors Wilson, Bradley and Campbell as well as the Deputy Mayor voted in support of hiring the Firefighters.
So here is the first problem – There are RULES to regulate how Council Meetings are run for a REASON. The rules should create efficiency and eliminate repetition in motions. Without a Rule of Reconsideration, every Council Member would be able to bring up any motion they want to at ANY time. And this is EXACTLY what happened at Monday’s Meeting. FOLLOW THE RULES!!!!! Had the proper rules regulating Council Meetings been followed, this item wouldn’t not have come back to Council at all until 2019 Budget talks.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for investing in our Fire Department and other Emergency Services – The Fire Master Plan has told us that our response times in the evenings DO NOT meet provincial standards. This is something we need….HOWEVER….My big problem with all of this is that as a Council, you have known for 3 YEARS that this was a NEED…..the consultant that you paid good money for told you so….and rather than finding ways to budget properly for this item so that it wouldn’t impact the taxpayer to this degree, it was turned into a political disaster (as everything seems to be).
Let me give you an example – If I, as a home owner, know that I am going to have to replace my roof next year, I probably won’t go on vacation. The logic here should be the same. It is not ok to ignore the NEEDS of the community to add in the WANTS. Of course I would rather go on vacation than replace my roof, but the reality is that I can’t have both. When our Council is requesting recommendations from experts (at a substantial cost) and then ignoring the recommendations, it truly is a waste. I am glad that they decided to invest in the Fire Department, but I am not happy that the cost of it was just an afterthought. This should have been planned into the budget long before November 2017. They should have removed some of the “vacation money” to ensure that they had “roof money” ready to spend.
What do you think?
Another item that was up on the table for discussion on Monday was the $425,000 for a new bus in 2018 to expand the transit system to include a 4th route. Councillor Bradley made an interesting suggestion – She suggested to remove the cost of $425,000 (which would have pretty much paid for the rest of the first year of Firefighters) and instead use one of the small buses to do a pilot project of sorts of the fourth route to assess the ridership and then decide after those results were in whether it would be appropriate to spend the money on another large bus. She was not able to garner enough support for this motion with only Councillor Kidd giving her motion support. Councillors Wilson, Campbell, Garisto along with Mayor Williams and Deputy Mayor Maycock all voted to keep the $425,000 for the new bus in the budget.
Well here we are….the budget has passed – The only thing left is to pass the bylaw to move forward. Town Treasurer, Mr. Villeneuve suggested that it would likely come to Council in December as he is waiting for final growth figures.
I want to hear from you – What do you think of how Monday’s Meeting unfolded? How are you feeling about the CRAZY increase this year?
The next meeting of Council is scheduled for Monday, November 13th at 7pm in Council Chambers