Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Difficult Choices

Posted by auroracitizen on April 14, 2011

An article appeared in the Auroran about our 2011 tax bill. Certainly we will be spending more of our hard-earned dollars to support the Town budget. However, another article may have also caught your eye — “Council Reduces Library request for more money — which indicated that Council had reduced their budget requisition by $30,500.

We are not offering an opinion on whether this cut was justified. We are asking your opinion on this and the larger issue. When looking at the budget, and the cuts – what items did you feel should have been cut and which do you think should have been saved. And of course, where do you think additional funds should have been allocated.

Balancing a budget is a delicate “balancing” act. But the one constant is dealing with “special interest” groups. These could be very small numbering 10’s of people or very large numbering 100’s (like sporting associations or the library users) — but they are all special interest groups since they don’t service the entire community like roads and sewers (yes we know some people may not drive — but you get the point).

The question is, how much “town” money do we spend on special interest groups and how much pressure do we put on them to be self-sustaining.

Food for thought? Grist for the Mill?

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10 Responses to “Difficult Choices”

  1. Not that I like to say “I told you so”, but today’s post by Evelyn Buck on her web site once again shows who is really the problem at Town Hall and who was the problem at Town Hall. Last fall before the election I predicted that things would not change – I see that I am not wrong.

    Once again, of the nine people around that table, only she knows enough to say that the budget was not good. What is that now? 5 years in a row that she has not supported the budget? The players are different, but the play is the same. She is a loner that cannot work with the others, will not work with the others and shows no respect for the other’s views in her writings.

    Get a load of this…..

    She is claiming that councillors elected were not “familiar with the issues engendered over the term.”

    She has a “sense of betrayal.”

    “How candidates in our election could remain so sublimely oblivious to the issues that infuriated taxpayers during the last term is not credible. But it’s true.”

    And finally… “They are not honest, They are not equal. They do not stand up to scrutiny.”

    Okay Mr Dawe and the other councillors, are you going to stand by and let this type of thing go on? We are six months into a 4 year mandate.

    Fuimus

    • Anonymous said

      I do not see that speaking out with an opinion that does not match others indicates that an individual cannot work with others. It indicates that an individual can form an opinion and is not afraid to voice it.
      Voting in conjunction with that opinion indicates consistency and refusal to vote the popular way. I applaud councillor Buck for all of these traits. We know what she thinks, we know how she formed her opinion and we know that she will vote accordingly.

      Consider the discussion about randomizing recorded votes, tabled by councillor Pirri at Tuesday’s council meeting. The hypocrisy that spewed from councillor Gallo’s mouth just about floored me. As one of the GOS block voters for 2 1/2 years, what a joke that he should now preach to others about forming their own opinions and voting accordingly.
      He barely spoke during the previous administration and therefore it was impossible to know what his opinion was, or wasn’t. When he voted it was always in keeping with the GOS vote. Coincidence or contrived? I reserve judgement on whether Mr. Gallo actually practises what he now preaches but I am watching closely. Only time will tell.

      Meanwhile we are never at a loss to know what councillor Buck’s opinion is, how it was formed or how she will vote once she has expressed it. She is open and consistent and does not feel the need to follow others like a sheep. I applaud and respect that!

    • Anonymous,

      You’re right. She gets along great with others… that is why she is feeling betrayed by them. And saying they don’t know what the issues are. Or that they are oblivious to the issues.

      All of those statements tells me that after a council meeting she goes out for a point with them fo sh*t and giggles.

      When will you sheep wake up to her MO and stop thanking her for “communicating the truth”?

      This is not about Gallo. It’s about her refusal to work with anyone and her narcisstic need to always be right. She is picking up right where she left off with the previous council.

      If I was one of the others at that table I would be pissed at her and the statements that she is making outside of chambers. But nothing changes in Aurora, same crap – different crappers.

      Fuimus

  2. Elizabeth Bishenden said

    I went through the copy at the Library this afternoon. It’s impossible to decide what is and isn’t worth funding, just based on the numbers.

    For example, how would anyone know if a particular sports facility was worth maintaining? There is no reference to any particular facility, its costs, its net income or the number of people who use it.

    The revenues from the user fees for sports facilities is collected by the Parks and Recreational Services Dept, which then gives money to the Environmental and Facilities Services Dept, which then maintains the buildings and facilities.

    But the relationship between what the users pay and what the Town either makes or pays is impossible to figure out.

    There are some facilities that provide revenue to the Town in terms of long term leases. Again, no mention is made of which facilities, and how much the leases make for the Town and how much it costs to maintain the facilities.

    The library, of course, provides that kind of information in its budget proposal.

  3. In answer to Anonymous 5:44.

    I did make a presentation, I believe mine was one of only 2 made by residents that was encouraged by council. The rest of the presentations that were made to council were from those looking for hand-outs.

    I cannot comment on how “valued” my input was until I see if any of my input was considered during the budget deliberations.

    I wouldn’t expect to be consulted, but it would be nice if staff, under council’s direction if required, were to draft a summary of the budget for the public to review. It could include the points that were debated, flagging the increase or decrease arrived at.

    I think there would be more interest from the public if such a document was communicated in such a fashion as I doubt more than a handful of people would bother to download the entire budget and try to discern what happened.

    The document could be made available through the town’s “new” social media channels (Facebook, Blogger) as they seem to be desperate for content, I suppose all the generic stock photos used in all the powerpoint presentations could be uploaded to the town’s Flickr feed too.

    Seriously though, wouldn’t you want to know what items accounted for the increase? Or is everyone satisfied in reading Clr. Ballard’s blog and taking his statement at face value that he was responsible for a 1.5% reduction in the budget?

  4. To know what was cut & what remains is there a link to the budget that was passed?

    Is there anything produced by the town that isn’t a huge spreadsheet that you have to spend hours sifting through to find items?

    I would love a synopsis of items that were debated and discussed. If the town doesn’t offer one would any of the Clr’s care to provide one?

    • Anonymous said

      Chris, I thought you had valued input in the budget? Didn’t you make a presentation to council? I figured you’d be consulted before it was all done and dusted.

    • Evelyn Buck said

      The library budget cut was hard But it was consistent. Council had decided positions not filled until budget approval meant funding is reduced by
      five months.
      The library board has one new position.
      The first in seven years. Population growth means increased use of the library.
      Hard economic times means increased use of library resources. the position is more than justified. But it will only be
      filled for seven months. Next year it will be twelve months. The board’s budget will increase proportionately.

      The cut made was five twelfths of the salary. As it is with other new positions on the town staff complement.

      I cannot defend other aspects of the budget so easily

    • Evelyn Buck said

      One other point about the cut to the library budget which makes it different to the rest.
      Council can reduce the library budget. We cannot tell the board how the resources can be spent.
      So although, the five months without the extra hire was the rationale, it cannot be specified.
      As I said, I found it hard. There are hundreds of thousands of dollars of spending in this budget which I do not support and because of it. the first budget of the new council will not pass with unanimous support.

      I take no satisfaction from that.

    • Evelyn Buck said

      Providing a synopsis of the budget is certainly beyond my capabilities. With all the transfers of responsibilities shifted between departments and new titles given to old jobs,and salary reviews, I defy anyone to pilot a way through the town’s budget and make sense of what they are reading.
      In the sixties, the Province appointed the Smith Committee to review the history of municipal taxation in Ontario.There were three volumes. It was a history of Ontario because all government services began at the local level

      I read all three volumes.One principle expressed stands out above all others.

      Taxation must be simple and clear enough for all to understand.

      We have not followed or even tried to follow that principle in Aurora for a number of years.

      If I cannot identify the changes from one year to the next because of all the transfers between departments and re-naming of jobs and salary reviews, I hold out no hope for the average taxpayer being able to make sense of the budget.

      Two weeks ago we restored two million dollars to various reserve funds from projects completed under budget. The document was compiled in December but not presented until after completion of the budget. Two million dollars would certainly have made a difference in budget calculations. It represents 8 points in the tax rate. I would contend, applied sooner. it would have meant a decrease in the 2011 budget of several points below the 2010 budget.

      What a novel notion that would be. The Fat Cats would never stand for it.

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