Well that was just embarrassing…..
The Town of Orangeville Finance Committee (which is composed of all of the current members of Council), met for their first Budget Circus..*ahem*…I mean Meeting…on Monday, January 11th to start deliberations for the 2016 Town Budget and I do mean “meeting” in the loosest definition of the word.
I walked out of Council Chambers following the meeting feeling like I could probably just copy and paste any one of my blog posts from last year around this time – nothing has changed. The same Councillors are using the same grandstanding speeches, the word “reserves” is thrown around to the point that it has just become meaningless…and is quite a cringe-worthy word again this year. AND the meeting went on for almost 4 hours with nothing really being accomplished…..see what I mean?? Deja Vu.
If this circus is left to continue, I have a feeling that we see a real repeat of last year with a budget being completed in May…or worse.
These are our elected officials. And they are making a joke of our of Town and turning these meetings in to an improv comedy show….but it’s not really funny when it’s our money on the line, is it?
In December, there was a presentation of the 2016 proposed budget at a council meeting. The proposed increase at that point was 2.2%. At the start of Monday’s meeting, Karen Mills, the Acting Treasurer announced that due to a change in some assessments, the actual proposed budget had been reduced to a 1.9% increase. To give you an idea of how productive the almost 4-hr meeting was…at the end of it, they were still at pretty damn close at 1.7%.
One of the items brought forward at the meeting was the proposed salary increase for the non-union staff. The budget had proposed a 2% COLA (cost of living adjustment) increase. Councillor Garisto, who is also the chair of the Finance Committee put forward a motion to have the COLA be adjusted based on salary…for example, a 2% increase for someone who makes $50k per year is $1000 per year, therefore, he reasoned, employees that make $100k per year should only get a 1% raise so that they too would get $1000 increase per year. Councillor Bradley spoke up at this point stating that it is unfair to discriminate against people based on their salary in that way and employees shouldn’t be penalized for making more money than others (and I have to agree with her there). Thankfully that motion was defeated.
After a number of attempts to speak were interrupted by Councillor Garisto, Councillor Kidd became fed up with his tactics and referred to Councillor Garisto as Mr. Putin…yup, as in Vladimir Putin…
While the comment was certainly unprofessional and wildly inappropriate, especially in this setting, Councillor Kidd was fairly on point, as Putin is widely known for his “un-democratic” tendencies…and rather than being the “chair” of the meeting, it quickly became more like the ‘Garisto Show’ with several Councillors voicing their opinions of being overlooked and unheard by the “chair” of the meeting.
What do you think the role of the Chair should be? In my humble opinion, perhaps now is a good time to redefine this role to start ensuring these meetings have flow while being productive.
Honouring Terry Sanderson
Another item of great discussion throughout the meeting was the request for funding for a memorial for Terry Sanderson. A recommendation of $6500 to commemorate Terry Sanderson with a tree sculpture outside of Tony Rose Memorial Arena was brought forward and was met with some resistance – not about the memorial itself, but about what type of memorial would be appropriate. Some felt that a tree sculpture was not the way to go, but rather a more permanent memorial. Suggestions of the renaming of Tony Rose ‘A’ rink were also suggested as well as the possibility of a plaque being installed. In the end, the finance committee passed a motion for $7500 to be set aside for the creation of a memorial for Terry. Well deserved, in my humble opinion.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” ~Albert Einstein
I’m interested in hearing from you. In my humble opinion, if meeting #1 is any indication, this years’ budget talks are shaping up to be history repeating itself from last year – and we all know what an epic disaster last years’ budget was. Are we being set up for a repeat of last year? What do you think Orangeville Town Council should be doing differently this year? And how can they nip this in the bud BEFORE we end up still deliberating the budget in April?
Another budget meeting is scheduled for Monday, January 25th, 2016