1. Looking from the outside in it is difficult to discern if there actually is a “toxic” culture at Town Hall. There certainly seems to be systemic issues but what is the root cause of these issues? Employees do what they are asked to do. There is an old Chinese proverb that states “a fish rots from the head”.
2. Cost of employee turnover has to be addressed by way of understanding why employees are leaving and finding ways to retain good employees. Cost is not limited to only exit costs but also in the expense of having trained that employee and also their replacement.
3. I have been a proponent of a full independent audit to this point. The time has come, however, to move on unless we believe that misapropriation of funds has occurred. We have been given a “blueprint” for moving forward by the Ministry and we need to implement this agenda. We need to ask “what would we accomplish with a full audit at this point and would the cost be justified?”
4. I wholeheartedly believe council meeting agendas should be posted with sufficient time for both councillors and the public to be fully knowledgeable on all items so that open, intelligent discussions can be had at council meetings. Exact timing of agenda releases can be debated but I think Wednesday or Thursday of the previous week should be sufficient.
5. Having just visited Niagara-on-the-Lake I fully appreciate the concept of a Heritage District and fully support the idea. This, however, would require the efforts of not just Town Administration and the Heritage Committee but also the community at large.
6. I am in full support of removing the OPP takeover clause from our police services contract. I also fully support exploring OPP costing and looking at a business case to determine the town’s best course of action.
7. Either the town decides to become fully immersed in becoming a tourist destination or it needs to get out of that mind set. We do not have a downtown core that is a true tourist destination. Art By The River and the SOE Winefest are wonderful events and the hard work that goes into planning these is appreciated but they are short term draws. The Navy Yard Park is beautiful but not a sufficient draw of a constant flow of visitors. Can we become a “destination point”? Yes, but that is a long term project that would require considerable funds and planning.
8. Everybody wants to simply cut department budgets, cut staff, and curtail spending but the reality is that the town is mandated to provide a certain level of services to residents. We need to define and evaluate these services, ensure we are providing what is mandated, and then look at discretionary spending. For those of us not currently in office it is a difficult task to decide if staffing levels are appropriate. I certainly will press for a complete review of departmental staffing levels to ensure there is no waste of taxpayer dollars.
9. Though all communities that form Amherstburg should be serviced appropriately with sidewalks, parks, etc, the reality is that funds just aren’t available to take care of every community all at once. There needs to be a plan and to prioritize community needs.
10. Regional transit though a wonderful idea would seem to to be an impractical idea given the town’s financial predicament. Without taxpayer subsidies it is difficult at best, and impossible at worst, to institute a transit system between Amherstburg and Windsor. Having said that, we owe it to our citizens to explore what monies (grants) are available from the Provincial or Federal Governments to possibly bring this idea to fruition.
11. Societal issues in Amherstburg mirror those those of any other community though possibly on a different scale. Poverty and social housing are issues that always need attention. The creation of more employment opportunities for our youth is also critical. The town however, can only do so much in creating employment. We need to lure more businesses to town which in turn creates employment. Environmental issues cannot be discarded. From the mosquito issues to pollution issues wed need to stay vigilant and do everything possible to provide an acceptable living environment for all our citizens.
12. Unequivocally it should be the new council that selects the new CAO. It is that new council that will need to work closely with that individual. Having said that, I have proposed on several occassions that the current council & administration could short-list the number of candidates to three or four for the sake of expediency.