Editor: Chatham-Kent council wants a zero-per-cent budget increase. We all do. The only way to re-generate an economy is to put more cash in the hands of the majority by reducing municipal operational costs and increasing efficiencies, which doesn’t necessarily mean laying off people,
The latter is more costly than to restructure management and frontline staff, accomplished through strict and more responsible government management.
Being completely open and transparent (which government is not) allows taxpayers an opportunity to responsibly scrutinize spending rather than the subjective foxes that guard the municipal hen house. The current municipal budget format hides millions of dollars every council term in a manner that would garner outrage over applause from taxpayers. Coun. Sulman’s statements: “We must have an in-depth look, where and how money is being spent, that proper diligence isn’t being done by council if we don’t”. He is right.
For years our office has been preaching what Sulman recently stated, only to be ignored by council and administration.
Annual budget formats only provide gross department and divisional totals, absent of cost breakdowns.
Council does not know where all monies are being spent due to cloaked expenses associated with administrative perks over investing frontline staff and services.
An investigative financial review would uncover a multitude of issues, allowing for money placed in resident pockets rather than taking it out.
Recovery task force members Mike Grail and Bill Loucks seem to support a third party to review municipal spending. Loucks stated his willingness to pay to make Chatham-Kent more efficient. No one should have to pay for municipal leaders to do the job they are being paid handsomely to do.
Individual annual salaries are already up to nearly a quarter million dollars, having up to $160,000 annual pensions. Take an aspirin, folks. This is reality.
The province has already spent millions of tax dollars to pay administration to do the job they are being well paid to do. We need to make children work for their allowance, not just hand them the money.
Administration doesn’t support a financial officer to do an in-depth review of municipal books, citing not enough time to bring in a consultant. Municipalities are not under statute or provincial request to submit financial returns in a few months from now, as administration implies.
Municipalities can and do submit their financial reports as late as September, thus giving ample time to retain a third party forensic review and reorganize fiscal formats. The only penalty for late submission is a longer wait for Ontario Municipal Partnership Funding from the first quarter.
Failing all this, a third party could review our 2019 to find millions in unnecessary costs and apply to our 2021 fiscal management.
Fiscal budget parameters are flexible, CK administration just doesn’t want to let anyone peak at the books.
The province estimates 32 per cent of Ontario retailers may close due to Covid19. Given the fact C-K has an estimated $29 million in retail commercial revenues, such quoted provincial figures could mean up to a $10-million revenue loss for C-K.
Provincial funding is a short-term fix forcing us to repay through higher income and other taxes – one big circle of insanity.