Ward System Needed?

During the 2014 municipal election campaign, the burg watch invited readers to submit questions to the candidates, one of which was Question 28: Amherstburg seems to have an unusually high amount of staff for its size and population; do you think the town has grown to the point that a ward system would better serve the residents?

Although Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale did not answer the question, the River Town Times now reports that DiPasquale is once again trying to see what the level of interest is in bringing in a ward system to Amherstburg; his notice of motion will be brought forth to council as a motion during the March 23 meeting.

What do you think?

reminder: this and any other polls are for entertainment purposes

the burg watch poll most accurate prediction

the burg watch poll most accurately predicted what the voters wanted with 4 of the 5 Councillors elected in the top 5 spots.

theburgwatch poll results:

DiCarlo, Aldo 46.69%  (113 votes) 

DiPasquale, Bart 66.36%  (142 votes)

Pouget, Diane 16.81%  (138 votes)
Lavigne, Jason 13.15%  (108 votes)
Meloche, Leo 8.04%  (66 votes)
Fryer, Rick 7.55%  (62 votes)
Renaud, Marc 6.46%  (53 votes)
Courtney, Joan 5.6%  (46 votes)

Aldo DiCarlo Elected Mayor

Congratulations to our new Mayor, Aldo DiCarlo, elected according to CTV news.

AMHERSTBURG MAYOR

CANDIDATE VOTES VOTE % STATUS
DiCarlo, Aldo 3,396 52.9 Elected
Sutherland, Ron 1,673 26.1
Sutton, John 907 14.1
Adler, Marty 445 6.9
VOTES: 6,421 / 16,276 = 39.5%     POLLS: 84.6%

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.

Town Hall Removing Election Signs

The Municipal Elections Act does not regulate signs, but an amended town Election Policy does and the candidates have been put on notice through a series of emails:

October 10, Paula Parker, Manager of Municipal Governance for the town emailed the candidates:

In light of a few election sign complaints, please note that all signs should be placed on private property.

Section 70(4) of The Municipal Elections Act specifically prohibits a municipality from making a contribution to a candidate’s election campaign. The Act also prohibits a candidate, or someone acting on the candidate’s behalf, from accepting a contribution from a person who is not entitled to make a contribution.

Contributions, as defined in section 66(1) of the Elections Act are; money, goods and services. As such, any use by a candidate of the Corporation’s resources for his or her election campaign, would be seen as a contribution by the Town to the candidate, which is a violation of the Act.

As a result of the above noted, and as per the recently amended Town of Amherstburg Election Policy (attached again for your reference), please refrain from putting signs on municipal property. (this includes municipal road allowances)

If you have any questions regarding where your signs should be located, administration is always here to help. Feel free to call or email.

October 20 at 12:08 pm, Paula Parker advised the candidates that the town was still receiving complaints about election signs and that effective 12 pm on the following day, the policy would be enforced and signs on municipal property would be removed. Signs removed by the town would be available for pick up on October 22.

October 20, Aldo DiCarlo emailed Paula Parker that it would be helpful to know whose signs have been complained about.

October 20 Paula Parker responded: The purpose of the previous email was to provide all candidates with information as it relates to the Town’s Election Policy.  In cases where a contravention of the Town’s Election Policy were noted, the Town has been proactive and has directly contacted those candidates affected.

This email also serves as a reminder to all candidates that the Town will continue to monitor the situation and take appropriate action where necessary.

October 21 Marc Renaud notified Paula Parker that signs were removed on Fort and Balaclava without notification.

October 21 Paula Parker advised that yesterday’s email served as notice that signs would be removed today at 12pm if they were on Town property and available for pick up October 22.

October 21 Glenn Swinton emailed Paula Parker: Having not received ANY such notification, I will assume that all of my issued signage is compliant and exactly where I left it.

October 21 Paula Parker replied: On August 11, 2014, Council adopted the Election Policy. The report advised Council that the Election Policy would supersede the Town’s Sign By-law in accordance with Section 70(4) and 66(1) of the Municipal Elections Act. All candidates were advised of these sections of the Act via email on Friday, October 10, 2014. The Town will continue to enforce the Election Policy up to and including Election Day. We are asking all candidates to abide by the Council approved Election Policy.

I hope that you can appreciate that the Town does not only manage its responsibilities through a complaint driven process, but also takes the necessary steps to enforce Town policies as required, with a proactive approach. Elections are sensitive in nature and the Town must govern itself accordingly.

October 21 Glenn Swinton responded: Please don’t patronize me by trying to suggest the town takes a proactive approach on policies. Without beating a dead horse on the subject please note,

Your “Election Policy” as amended August 11, 2014 clearly states:

12-b) “Election signs shall be removed if a complaint is received about a specific sign;”

12-c) ” The candidate shall, within 24 hours after receiving verbal instructions from a municipal official, remove a sign that contravenes the above. The Town reserves the right to remove election signs if the candidate fails to remove the contravening sign/signs within the 24-hour time frame.”

By way of your own policy I suggest the Town of Amherstburg has illegally removed campaigning signs outside of the “election Policy” provided from your office. Since this chain of emails has been shared with all, including the current Council members of Amherstburg that are seeking re-election, perhaps one of them could jump in and direct their staff on the laws they have passed for the taxpayers.

This is ridiculous.

Candidates Not Answering Readers’ Questions Update

The list of candidates that have not answered any questions from the burg watch readers, but did answer questions from the River Town Times has been updated to reflect the fact that three candidates have answered one or more questions since the October 9 post, Candidates Selectively Answering Questions.

Mayor
Sutton, John

Deputy Mayor
Davies, Carolyn
Menna, John

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

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.