Councilor Andre Rivette shared a tip of what’s brewing at City Hall in this video from last Spring; one which not only resulted in him being attacked at a secret meeting that violated the municipal act, but one that resulted in the city’s failed attempt to put into place a by law that would muzzle councilors from speaking out.
If the good councilor’s estimate is accurate you’re looking at nearly 2 tax points for Cornwall or more. With pending potential litigation and/or settlements such as the one involving Rob Hickley how much does a community have to pay to cover the sins of non-elected city officials?
With Mayor Bob Kilger stating how close his relationship is with the about to be former CAO who’s sucking dollars on executive leave, whatever that is, to the tune of $186K per year before taking his retirement where does that leave the voice of council? This same council that for the most part gave the CAO a whopping 14% raise knowing of some of this litigation?
And while we’re at it there seems to be some confusion as to Mr. Fitzpatrick’s previous leave, before his executive leave. The buzz at City Hall now is that he was on vacation but as the above video shows Mayor Kilger clearly states he is on leave for medical reasons.
The Mayor and council have a deep responsibility to the Corporation of the City of Cornwall which ladies and gents is you and I. What is wrong with these people some of whom we actually voted for that they sit in silence allowing this nonsense to occur?
With the city prepping the public for a WHOPPING 3% tax increase to taxes that are already too high to attract business and residents where is the logic or protection of our community?
The Community action group (which I’m a member of for the record) sent out the following release.
The Community Action Group feels very strongly that some difficult choices will need to be made in order to keep the 2013 tax increase below 2% as we have seen in the past few years, or even better a 0% increase. CAG sees growth of the tax base compromised with a 3% tax increase, i.e. short term gain, with no benefits for long term growth.
Over the past few years the CAG has been working with Council and members of the Administration to emphasize the importance of a competitive tax rate. The CAG feels and has stated many times that if we are going to grow as a City we need to be more competitive with our tax rates in all categories. The choices seem clear to the CAG, change is required and without it we run the risk in the long term of remaining as we are, which is not an option that the members of the CAG would support. The problem we have is a higher than average property tax rate combined with a lower than average household income. To overcome this we need growth, with a larger population we will be better prepared to pay for City services and amenities, in all sectors. Currently we have a population of 46,000 people with city services that are geared for a city with a population of 60,000. We need to grow, we need to reduce the tax burden for all citizens, and so we need meaningful change.
At both the federal and provincial levels there is significant fiscal restraint, with many sectors seeing their salaries frozen due to budget constraints, so why are we talking about a 3% property tax increase? Restraint is the answer.
For the CAG the priorities are,
-A list of priorities that Council follows at all times
-Fiscal Responsibility at all levels of City operations
-An annual 0% Tax increase target
-Continue to invest in infrastructure based on a long term plan
-The need for budget constraints at all levels of City operations
-Strong Management mandates, with benchmarks so Council can track progress
-Work with our neighboring municipalities to share services and programs
In the end the future is in our hands, it’s up to us to make the hard choices in order to ensure the future will be bright for all the citizens of Cornwall and, Council made up of our elected representatives, will make the final decision. One thing is certain we share the same concern with members of Council and Administration that “certain costs or spending trends are not sustainable”, and we all need to find the right path to ensure success. Unfortunately for some this will mean some significant changes, but as we all know when we balance our household needs, if we don’t fix a problem, things usually don’t get better.
Frankly in this scribblers opinion this is way too soft. I think we need a ZERO freeze on taxes. Enough bribing of staff and unions to get votes with easy relations and we need more accountability. We can’t have the President of the Labour Council on committees related to salaries of staff and city personal. That’s nuts!
We the taxpayers of Cornwall Ontario are owed answers by our elected officials. If certain city staff or managers erred or broke the rules we need to clearly know this and if certain politicians played fast and loose with our money we also need to know this.
The closer to the next municipal elections we get the more important the answers to these questions become.
Council and the mayor will have to come clean sooner or later.
And for this city to grow; short of rejigging signs as Councilor Gardiner suggested we do need taxes to stop being raised and the city of Cornwall Ontario needs to get its house in order. Maybe spending less on starting their own news room and so many trips for the mayor on tax payer’s dollars would be a good start? Maybe having committees that actually focus and are made up of the right people instead of those “good buddies” with friends and relatives whose incomes may be connected to some of those decisions could result in savings to the taxpayer?
You can’t keep raising taxes. You need to raise revenues and that doesn’t come by alienating growth in a city that already is struggling through a recessionary period.
Jamie Gilcig – Editor – The Cornwall Free News
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