Job Experience Needed?

Is previous council experience really needed? Four years ago, three candidates without any council experience were elected to council: Ron Sutherland, Carolyn Davies and Bart DiPasquale. During the past four tumultuous years, residents witnessed:

  • a high rate of staff turnover
  • a record amount of debt
  • flip flops on the:
    • financial audit
    • St. Joseph’s Church in River Canard
    • Sandwich Street repaving
    • installation of railings at what is now the Libro Centre
  • the discussion of the sale of a municipal asset – essex power shares
  • public input not being welcomed
  • two references to ‘lynching’ regarding a public meeting
  • Ombudsman Ontario’s finding that council contravened the Municipal Act by voting in a closed session in March 2011
  • Ombudsman Ontario’s Report that confirmed council repeatedly contravened the Municipal Act and its own procedure by-law. Council discussed issues in closed session that were not permitted under the exceptions to the Municipal Act, and also routinely engaged in improper voting behind closed doors in December 2011
  • UCCU Centre naming scandal and subsequent lawsuit
  • no commitment to the cost-saving OPP policing option
  • grants for the tourist booth and Laird Avenue and not Texas Road
  • the decision to close the tourist booth due to budget
  • 5 CAOs in four years
  • the hiring of CAO Phipps, his notice to leave and then his decision to stay
  • a council approved secretive process to hire CAO Miceli
  • a lack of provincially mandated policies
  • a lack of commitment to accessibility, including the town’s website.

Is this the experience the community wants to continue with? Tomorrow’s the big day – it’s up to the voters to decide what they need.

Councillors Refuse To Rate Themselves Update

A November 11, 2011 sticky post, Councillors Refuse To Rate Themselves, pointed out that, with the exception of Carolyn Davies, not one member of council responded to the yearly request during the 2010 to 2014 term, “if you would provide a comment regarding how you think you have performed.”

Yet here we are at the end of the fourth year of the term being inundated with endless campaign promises of transparency and accountability.

Final Update Of Candidates’ Answers

Thank you to the burg watch readers for the questions that allowed for scrutiny of the candidates beyond their marketing material.

Thank you to the candidates who took the time to answer the questions.

This final updated document is available for your review and may not be copied or distributed, in whole or in part, without written permission of theburgwatch.com.

Given the time required to update the document, a deadline of 6 pm Sunday was set for the candidates to respond; therefore, this document does not include those who answered after the deadline.

The following candidates have never answered any questions from the burg watch readers:

Mayor
Sutton, John

Deputy Mayor
Davies, Carolyn
Menna, John

Councillors
Cleminson, Frank
Dupont, John
Fryer, Rick
McLean, Darryl
Pillon, Robert 

Glenn Swinton Answers Dr. Lloyd Brown-John’s Questions

Dr. C. Lloyd Brown-John’s Questions To The Candidates were posted on September 18, 2014, although no answers would be published until after the Chamber of Commerce candidate event to avoid any possibility of some candidates not doing their independent research.

Although the Chamber of Commerce may not have used them, two councillor candidates answered the questions; Glenn Swinton’s answers are below and Scott Kendell’s are in a separate post.

Question: What is “Transparency” in municipal financial management terms?
Question: What is “Accountability”?
Question: What is a “Budget”?
Question: What is the Municipal Assessment “Mill Rate”? What is Amherstburg’s current residential Mill Rate? Supplemental Question: What is the Name of the Agency Responsible for municipal property assessments?
Question: What is Council’s role in respect to Infrastructure Municipal Debenture funding?

Let me try to provide an answer for the questions raised by Dr. C. Lloyd Brown-John. With respect to your question 1 and 2 directed at us hopeful council candidates, I believe that the terms “Transparency” and “Accountability” are simply convenient trigger words some are set on using in their campaign simply to gain credibility from the voters.

Transparency as it would relate to “Municipal financial management terms” should mean that the strength and weaknesses of financial commitments be portrayed to the investors (or taxpayers if you will), in clear and un obscured reports so as to ensure that everyone is aware of the risks or rewards to be expected. This should not be confused with an assumption that daily financial reports will be presented to the public for review or open voting on financial decisions.

Accountability, well accountability is a pretty clearly defined word. According to Webster’s Dictionary accountability is defined as “required to explain actions or decisions to / required to be responsible for something or someone. For someone running for council to promise “accountability” could potentially be a sign that they have never been involved in politics or never should have been in the first place. No one member of a council can really be accountable for the decisions of said council. One vote of seven couldn’t possibly take all the credit for poor decisions nor should anyone expect that they would. If we are to talk accountability perhaps we should review re-occuring team voting?

Personally, I think the last thing that should be included in anyones campaign is the phrases “Accountability or Transparency”. Neither of these qualities could any one member of a council provide as a comity member providing a vote. I for one would rather see Honesty and Integrity but the reputations of those words have been tainted by politics around the globe.

As for a budget… likely best described as a projection of known/anticipated income and known/anticipated expenses. A budget must be drawn with figures that are as close to realistic as physically possible to ensure that the chances of a healthy balance is achieved. By way of “budgeting” we hope to allocate anticipated funds to necessary expanses in advance to better prepare for the upcoming fiscal year.

The municipal Assessment rate or “mill rate” is essentially a taxpayers tax rate. It* is the annual percentage due as taxes based on an assessment of the value of your property as evaluated by MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Corp.) The current “residential” mill rate for Amherstburg is 0.01532170 which means that a residential property with a value of say $250,000 will be responsible for or “accountable for” $3830.43 in taxes for 2014. This rate has increase from last years mill rate of 0.01475151. That same $250,000 property last year paid $3687.88. An increase of $142.56 per year or $11.88 per month, $2.97 per week. For the record, although Amherstburg’s mill rate has increased it is still lower than Lasalle or Windsor.

Finally, council has to work together and collectively agree on debentures. According to the act, a municipality can only issue a debenture for long term borrowing to provide financing for capital work.

Scott Kendell Answers Dr. Lloyd Brown-John’s Questions

Dr. C. Lloyd Brown-John’s Questions To The Candidates were posted on September 18, 2014, although no answers would be published until after the Chamber of Commerce candidate event to avoid any possibility of some candidates not doing their independent research.

Although the Chamber of Commerce may not have used them, two councillor candidates answered the questions; Scott Kendell’s answers are below and Glenn Swinton’s are in a separate post.

Question: What is “Transparency” in municipal financial management terms?
Question: What is “Accountability”?
Question: What is a “Budget”?
Question: What is the Municipal Assessment “Mill Rate”? What is Amherstburg’s current residential Mill Rate? Supplemental Question: What is the Name of the Agency Responsible for municipal property assessments?
Question: What is Council’s role in respect to Infrastructure Municipal Debenture funding?

Transparency In order to maintain trust to the public it is important that procedures and policies are clearly set out and accessible to everyone, and that the day to day operations are transparent.

Accountability Policies that are followed in regards to sale of lands, goods and services provided to the municipality. When how and where Information is provided upfront to the public.

Operating budgets are for municipal expenses salary’s, utilities maintenance of buildings etc. Capital budgets provide for infrastructure new and in future new facilities equipment repair construction etc.  and its financing.

Municipal mill rate is the tax rate at one thousands of currency unit. Property tax, The amount of tax per dollar of accessed value of said property. Amherstburg’s current residential mill rate is Municipal 0.00881967,County 0.00447203 Education 0.00203000   The agency’s name is MPAC

Councils role is to represent the public and develop and implement policies as required to maintain financial integrity of the municipalities for long term commitments or projects of value to same.

Pauline Gemmell Answers Question 40

Question 40:
I have never  been personally bankrupt or been in a position of authority of a business that has been declared bankrupt. I think it’s up to the voters to determine if bankruptcy precludes running for office and that will be reflected on election day.

All answers to date are on the candidate answers page.

Glenn Swinton’s Comment On All candidates meeting draws large crowd in Amherstburg

Glenn Swinton’s comment to the Windsor Star article is:
My apologies for anyone looking to connect with me that evening. The chamber was made aware well in advance that I was unable to attend their event. The Windsor Star’s report of me being a “no-show” was false. If there was a place set for me at the event it could have only been with ill intentions. As always, I am available 24/7 on my provided cell phone or via email for anyone who wishes to talk.

Aldo DiCarlo’s Comment On No Commitment To Remove OPP Clause In Police Contract

In response to the Commentary, “No Commitment To Remove OPP Clause In Police Contract,” Aldo DiCarlo’s comment is:

This is an issue that I have spent a considerable amount of time on, specifically because of the large potential savings, $1M or more. At last night’s debate, Deputy Mayor Suttherland stated that an OPP costing takes at least 18 months. As a taxpaying resident, not a just a mayoral candidate, this both angers and frustrates me. If it does indeed take this amount of time, why then did not a single council member make the motion to request the OPP costing. If one of them did, I would like to know who and why it was voted down. ALL contracts have an expiry date. Did a single one of the current council members do their due diligence in requesting an OPP costing early enough so that we could have reviewed our options now that the contract is being negotiated? I believe the answer is no, and I’d be happy to be wrong.

Aldo DiCarlo Only Mayoral Candidate To Answer Dr. Lloyd Brown-John’s Questions

Dr. Lloyd Brown-John prepared a series of Questions for the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce related to Financial issues. There were two sets of questions; one for prospective Council members and more complex questions for Deputy and Mayor candidates.

The questions were posted here and sent to the candidates on September 19; although the Chamber of Commerce may not have used them, of the four Mayoral Candidates, Aldo DiCarlo is the only one who answered them: Dr. C. Lloyd Brown-John’s Questions To The Candidates – Aldo DiCarlo Answers.

Roxanne Qessem Answers Question 33 – Why Not Answer Questions

Question 33:
I would like to sincerely apologize for not participating until now. Due to my work for the Federal Public Service I was unable to partake in any campaign activities until formal permission was granted. In the next few days I will answer all questions on this site. Although late in the game my reasons for seeking office are sincere.

All answers to date are on the candidate answers page.