1. Toxic Culture At Town Hall
The Town of Amherstburg has been caught in a media frenzy of blame over the past 4 years. It’s no wonder those who come with hopes of shining in the spotlight quickly turn and retreat. Our town is in need of fresh leadership with strong support. A team that will be dedicated to resolution before advancement to ensure we begin to see a balance between debt load and progression. Although “micro-managing” may not necessarily be required, it’s clear that a CAO with direction needs to be encouraged to take the helm and work diligently with a new Mayor and council to rectify the issues at hand. Leadership with a strong understanding of what exactly is expected of a CAO would certainly benefit the hurdles of outlining the chain of command.
3: Support Full Independent Audit
There is a huge misconception within the members of this town that the O.P.P. had conducted a forensic audit and found “no fowl play”. The O.P.P. had conducted an audit based on allegations of foul play and evidence that might support the allegations was the only thing they were looking for in their investigation. They DID NOT conduct a full audit on the Town of Amherstburg in search of anything out of place.
I believe that there is years of transactions that must be reviewed given the current state of the town. With that being said, it’s time that requests from some councillors for information be responded to on time and in full and yes there is a need to outline exactly how and when money has been spent and/or transferred. When the answer to our debt is simply “I don’t know, I’m not an accountant…” there is clearly a need for a better look. This isn’t a few hundred dollars, it’s lots of millions.
4: Increase Time To Study Agenda
I don’t believe that any conscious decision could be made on an issue where by a person is not 100% informed and understands the issue being presented. I for one would always decline making an uninformed decisions and would strongly encourage a sensible amount of time for review of the facts. Issues that are to be brought before a council cannot be of rash decisions. Amherstburg as it is today is a fine example of “I thought I had the right idea”. Further to that, I do not believe that every proposed project that is discussed needs to be researched at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars before it is put before the taxpayer for consideration.
6: Obtain OPP Costing, Remove Contract Clause
I believe that there are many factors that need to be considered with a proposal to convert our policing services over to the O.P.P.. Moreover, the long term commitments need to be compared to our own controllable costs incurred. Rate increases in the future will not easily be disputed once we have liquidated our own forces. Some other municipalities that have migrated to O.P.P. policing services have expressed issues of dislike and we must remember that once such a conversion is made it will be nearly impossible to reverse. I think more importantly we should be asking ourselves if the current council should be negotiating any longterm contracts as they head for the door. Especially one that will last throughout the next 4 year term of any new council. With the Term of Office commencing on December 1, 2014, a contract that expires on December 31, 2014 should not be renewed before then.
8: Curtail Spending; Pay Debt; Reduce Budget
As a citizen in this town, it infuriates me that our finances our budgeted by staff members that are directed by a council that either doesn’t ask the important s and those that do are not properly responded to by the staff members responsible for providing the information. It will be impossible to stop any spending altogether. This town will incur some level of spending in order to maintain operations however, ALL departmental budgets need to be reviewed thoroughly. All to often department leaders follow the mentality that funds not consumed from the previous budget will be eliminated in the next year. ABSOLUTELY. Budgets are created to cover the expenses of the year to come. Somehow this becomes more of an allowance that needs to be spent so they can ask for more. There isn’t any more. We need to cut back now and when times are better we can revisit the need for more. Those spending to reach there budget should have to explain the expenses and as a member of council I will be watching for such behaviours and expect a full account for every dollar requested. As for job eliminations, I am not a strong proponent of any “make work programs”. Legitimate positions that need to be filled will be filled.
10: Establish Regional Transit
Public transit is a service to be negotiated with a secondary provider. Encouraging these providers to service the area would certainly be an added benefit to the citizens of Amherstburg. I will actively support the efforts of any company willing to service the area i.e. Transit Windsor however, any coverage of expenses for these services cannot be passed to the Town of Amherstburg at this time.
12: Selection Of New CAO For New Council
I am strongly apposed to this current council making any decisions with long term effects before they are potentially replaced. The C.A.O. is put in place to give direction to all the towns department heads. His direction is to come from the Mayor and his council. If this current Mayor and Council are not unanimous on the needs of the town how can they possibly hire a C.A.O.? If they are to hire a C.A.O. before leaving office, this new hire should be placed under contract with a strong understanding that he/she is under a probationary period until well after the new Mayor and council take office. This would prevent any potential “buyout” of any contract that may be entered into.