LETTER: Just focus on the reality

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Editor: In the private sector, business owners cannot draw on tax dollars to survive. The private sector dare not rely on image over reality, by merely pretending all is well when it is not, or they risk going out of business.

Seemingly, all levels of government consciously exhaust their budgets, specifically municipal government. This results in going back to the trough to get more tax dollars from the province, which means reaching into taxpayer wallets, which means the continuous money-grabbing circle continues to the peril of the taxpayer and to a benefit to those employed within government.

Provinces have allowed local governments to be less accountable.  Local governments are required to file annual financial reports to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The province only requires a general overview of finances from local governments – no details.

I suspect the main reason why local governments don’t display tax-dollar spending details in their annual budgets is because they don’t have to.  Millions in spending transactions yearly is hidden from the public and even council.

Would you buy a car without a safety check or inspection, expecting it to be road worthy? Local government mirrors what the province allows. The provincial party in power relies on keeping municipalities happy, since, of the 650,000 public-sector workers in Ontario, about 40 per cent work for municipal governments.  That represents a lot of votes.

When citizens cannot responsibly scrutinize how their money is being spent – and they cannot with C-K’s annual budget – such leaves ample opportunity for poor spending decisions.

The mayor has recently made various media comments of how well C-K is doing. I guarantee that no one will experience any reduction in taxes and general living costs proportionate to how much better the mayor describes C-K is doing. In fact, I guarantee all will see an increase in living costs and a reduction in living standards in spite of the mayor’s comments.

As meaningful as Mayor Darrin Canniff may be his comments: “Doctors have the pick of the litter but chose to come to Chatham-Kent,” can be misleading. I believe doctors had an incentive to come here. Over $100,000 in C-K tax dollars were spent in C-K’s physician recruitment and retention program.

Canniff said 300 new businesses were created in Chatham-Kent in 2023.  That should mean C-K has a record of each new business with each tax code and generated revenues from new taxes, including generated utility revenues and insurances paid, etc.

He also recently stated around 5,000 new residents relocated to the municipality in the past three years. Are these residents that add to an economy or live off it?

We do agree with Mayor Canniff that some are moving from larger centres, however, the information we secured from the province and from C-K does not support to confirm the accuracy of 5,000 new residents.

He has said Chatham-Kent has secured a $10 million in a community host agreement with Hydro One. This sounds great, but who and how is this being paid?

The most disturbing of the mayor’s comments is his foregone conclusion municipal hall will be moving to the Sears building. We’ve attempted to get a comparison costing between the Sears project and our Civic Centre. C-K is refusing or does not have a costing for the Sears project in order for taxpayers to know what is going on.

By the way, if council chambers remains where it is the Civic Center an upgrade would only be around $24-$26 million to upgrade the Civic Centre.  Such was taken from cost estimates we were able to obtain.

We’re filing a Freedom of Information application in an attempt to obtain honest, accurate and comprehensive information from municipal hall to these matters.  If the mayor is right – great! We are not holding our breath.

John Cryderman

Chatham

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