Mark Brown 10/19/2013 3:29:57 AM Report
Good morning VRoomers,
Finance Commissioner Bill Freiburger has stated in a report to City Council that there will be two(2) CITIZEN BUDGET INPUT SESSIONS for the 2014 Budget held in early November 2013.
One session on Nov. 2nd and the other on Nov. 5th. So lets get the Budget ideas flowing!!!
I have a couple of ideas! Please let me know what you think about the Budget ideas that I will be presenting in the VRoom over the next few days.
Tell City Council that we want a property tax increase of no more than 1.8%.
1.8% is the increase that CPP recipients got on their cheques this year, and I will be recommending this idea at the aforementioned Citizen Budget Input Session so that City Council can tell City Staff to make it happen.
Of course City Staff will say, "What do you want us to cut?", but it is City Staff's responsibility to KNOW what are the least important, and least beneficial, areas of expenditure to citizens because they deal with citizens every single day and have the best idea of what is most important, and most beneficial, to citizens. On top of that, City Staff are the experts, like City Council keeps telling us, so let them start applying their expertise for the benefit of us citizens!
Contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell me your ideas and also what you think about this Idea #1.
I will be presenting more Budget ideas in the upcoming days so stay tuned and let me know what you think VRoomers.
Sincerely and Respectfully,
P.S. the 1.8% only amounted to about a $1 increase per CPP cheque so we may want to demand that taxes should not increase any more than $12 a year to protect our CPP receiving seniors from having the buying power of their CPP cheques being eroded any more than is absolutely necessary. What are your thoughts on this VRoomers?
*** Where did the 1.8% come from? http://tinyurl.com/CPP2013RateIncrease
That's wehre. ***
flyhawk25 10/19/2013 7:44:53 AM Report
MB...good idea.At least it's a starting point for the discussion.
I know that both you and DP get the occasional criticism on here but I hope that neither of you let it deter you.
We are living in a time with less and less analytic commenting on politics - especially locally from the 'professional' media.
A healthy democracy demands an informed and engaged electorate.What you both do helps to make us all better citizens and neighbors.
Wisenheimer 10/19/2013 8:35:33 AM Report
The Mayor wants to use tax payers dollars to help owners spruce up their properties on Gore Street. She extols the success this type of expenditure has had on Queen Street. (Queen Street is looking more and more like Gore every day.) Do others out there believe the City should tend to their knitting or be involved in creating employment?
Wisenheimer 10/19/2013 8:51:51 AM Report
MB .. if the City "knows" what is least important in their spending why is it there in the first place?
Why does a "Community Bus" rumble through the P Patch day after day, after day with never any passengers on it ? When the City replaced a portion of sidewalk or our street why was it a project that rivaled the complexity and number of workers that built the pyramid at Giza. Why does the City need a "tree cutting crew". Why does every city vehicle in town motor up to Rome's every noon, for an hour or so ? Ever heard of lunch pails and thermos bottles. When the kids plant and weed on the boardwalk, someone should tell them to shut the truck off. I assume their are a few more out there.
Mark Brown 10/19/2013 9:50:26 AM Report
Dear flyhawk25 and Wisenheimer,
Thank you for the compliment fly, and thank you for your input Wisen. I appreciate it very much.
I definitely agree, fly, that the work that David Poluck and the SSM Association of Ratepayers team... Helen Girard, Ted Hanlon, Kelly Marshall, and Blair Reid... has been a tremendous inspiration to me to do much, if not all, of the volunteer work that I am doing to keep things open to the public down at City Hall so that we all have the opportunity to help make our city the best place it can be.
But what do you think of the 1.8% max tax increase, or the $12 max tax increase fly? Good or bad?
What do you think my friend?
As for the "...use [of] tax payers dollars to help owners spruce up their properties on Gore Street", Wisen, if you think it's a waste of taxpayer dollars then you can tell them at the Public Input Sessions, or you can contact me at email@example.com with your complaint and I will pass it along to them without your name on it so you can remain anonymous!
Lastly, Wisen, it's amazing to me that you can so easily identify areas of waste in the system that apparently unidentifiable by the experts down at City Hall. I guess they are just not looking for the waste on a continuous basis. That gives me another Budget Input Idea!
Do you have any ideas how they can first identify, then fix these wasteful situations so that they aren't wasting so much of our hard earned taxpayer dollars Wisen?
Thanks again for that input Wisen, and keep the great input coming VRoomers!
Sincerely and Respectfully,
soowat 10/19/2013 9:59:24 AM Report
You ask some valid questions that you might better spend your time asking those that could provide an answer or asking the rate payers association to put forward on you behalf.
One of your question is, why it is necessary to have a city tree cutting crew. My question to you is,would you sooner have that crew, or risk going without power for a period of time because a tree fell on a power line? Personally, I would prefer the former as we already have enough power failures caused by (to quote PUC) our fine feathered friends. Thus fewer trees results in fewer birds and fewer power failures. Seems like a win/win to me,he wrote facetiously.
Wisenheimer 10/19/2013 10:21:50 AM Report
Soowat .. contract the tree cutting business out to one of the several that currently work in the area. Yellow pages!
They will go on 24 hr call if negotiated.
Don't get union wages, but their chain saws work just fine and they return calls.
Just Curious 10/19/2013 10:39:33 AM Report
Didn't kmow the city had a tree-cutting crew,all I ever see is the contractors doing that.And just as an aside,on the contractors crew everyone works,unlike all city crews that have a driver that does nothing but drive the truck and then sit on his butt for the duration of the job.The city could save several thousand a year by eliminating this stupidity....
Wisenheimer 10/19/2013 10:49:36 AM Report
MB .. people who build empires are loathe to admit it. The city will tell you the "Community Bus" is subsidized by the province, so what's the fuss ?
They'll also tell you that annual increase in the City taxes are partly a result of union contracts that also rise.
As if they have no responsibility for the contracts.
flyhawk25 10/19/2013 11:21:50 AM Report
MB...I think an annual tax increase is practical if controlled.
I've said for years that a 'zero tax increase' was both not practical and stupid. And now we are paying the price in eroding infrastructure.
The city has many fixed costs due to collective agreements already in place.
I';d like to see your idea as a 'firm guideline' and to work from that.
I just don't want anything chiseled in stone that will hinder the work of council.
realitycheck 10/19/2013 11:22:31 AM Report
The city's bus service should not be cut. Buses may seem to run through some areas with few or no riders but this will not be the case everywhere. It is fine for fat cats with cars to call for a cutback in bus service, but that is to disregard the needs of those not so fortunate. Those of us who began our working lives without a car know from that experience how much a bus service means. I suspect there are many in similar circumstances today and I would not want to see them deprived of the opportunity to get around this city.
Mark Brown 10/19/2013 11:34:50 AM Report
But you and I both know that we taxpayers subsidize the REGULAR Transit system to the tune of more than $5 Million dollars a year.
We also both know that City Council sets a ceiling on Wage and Benefit increases for all city employees, unionized or not, and at the beginning of this year ALL city employees got at least a guaranteed 2% annual increase to their pay (which seems to have been the ceiling imposed by City Council) for the next 3 or 4 years.
That's a lot of taxpayer cash, but it doesn't seem to be out of line with the 1.8% that I mentioned above.
The question we have to ask ourselves is:
Are city staff salaries and wages and benefits APPROPRIATE?
Because if city employees aren't being compensated appropriately, then a 2% increase on a city worker's salary who currently earns $50,000, and who, more appropriately, should be earning a $35,000 salary, is a waste of $15,150 dollars in year one alone!!!
That's a lot of wasted taxpayer cash for one employee!!!
Are ALL city staff compensation levels appropriate? And if not, what can City Hall do to make compensation levels more appropriate without cutting any jobs?
Those are the questions!
Sincerely and Respectfully,
Mark Brown 10/19/2013 11:55:38 AM Report
realitycheck brings up an excellent point, namely, there is almost NOBODY who uses the bus that doesn't NEED to use the bus.
If someone has another choice, like getting a ride from a friend or family member, or if they can reasonably walk to where they are going, or if they can afford some other method of safe transportation, then they in almost every case use that alternative method.
Half hour Regular Transit Service is a minimum requirement in my humble opinion, and I've investigated this.
The problem is that the REGULAR Transit Service costs us taxpayers too much money, so the solution is to raise the cost of the fare to the people who use the bus, and significantly so... I'm thinking about $5 a ride, and $100 for a regular monthly pass, and $50 for Seniors and Students.
That would save us taxpayers about $2 Million a year.
Sincerely and Respectfully,
P.S. Check out how the current half hour levels of service are actually needed Wisen... over 1,000 'likes':
right wing 10/19/2013 11:57:02 AM Report
Lefties need some cheese to go with your wine?
You all just hate the fact that Harper has just cemented the start of what is going to become one sweet deal for Canada.
The East coastal provinces are already hailing it as the deal that is going to save their industry.
European's are big sea food and fish consumers.
The beef and pork industry are going to see their exports go up 10+ fold.
The Canola and grain farmers are pleased as they expect to see their exports double.
This spin off effects with jobs in the shipping, packaging, administrative, labour, etc., is going to be another great boost to our economy.
This is just the agriculture industry thus far!!
....and the positive list keeps on growing.
There is one negative impact rung in so far, a sector of the cheese market.
They are whining, like a bunch of liberals, that the high end fine cheese market may be negatively affected.
The numbers are miniscule when compared to the positive market impacts but hey...you can't please everybody, right.
The left leaning media is having a bitch of time propping up that negative impact on the fine cheese market under headlines such as...
Agriculture industry is calling this the “Wayne Gretzky of trade deals.”
A little fine European cheese with that "wine" fellas.....
Yes come election time the opposition will try hard to remind Canadians about some long forgotten minor political bumps in the road and some slimy senators...but this trade deal along with a balanced budget....
What was that someone said...Canadians vote with their wallets.
The Liberal screaming and gnashing of teeth will be a joyous sound from coast to coast.
flyhawk25 10/19/2013 12:08:51 PM Report
Minor political bumps?
What are you smoking?
djjazz09 10/19/2013 12:13:36 PM Report
Mark, I am a regular user of our transit system and I agree that it is not the best system but it meets the needs of those that ride the buses. Increasing fares to the levels that you stated would put a lot of riders at risk along with not being able to get to work. With electrical rates about to rise next month people will have to find or budget money to cover that increase.
What I would suggest is looking at the daily expenses of every department at city hall. Just the other day I saw a person from the engineering department driving a dodge challenger/or maybe a charger which I suspect costs between 20,000 and 30,000 dollars. If this city proclaims to be the center of the green environmental movement why aren't the vehicles they purchase reflect such an ideology?
I believe that if cuts are to be made start with city hall not the taxpayers, who keep this city running on a daily basis.
realitycheck 10/19/2013 12:32:00 PM Report
"Minor political bumps? What are you smoking?"
He doesn't have to be smoking anything. Free trade is the way of the future and opening up the huge European market can only be good for Canadians, just as opening up the huge U.S. market was. Some companies will be hurt, just as occurred when NAFTA was introduced, but the country as a whole benefitted. That will be the case with this agreement. It should be remembered that free trade is just that, free trade. It does not mean that people can just bring goods freely across the border, as some people thought when NAFTA came in.
redranger 10/19/2013 12:37:49 PM Report
Good Day All
Occasionally something nice happens and it feels good to share it.
Two weeks ago I bought my wife a new car for her birthday and our anniversary which almost coincide. It was one of those special number birthdays ( and anniversary). I negotiated a good price and was quite happy with the deal. A week after that, I received email from the company telling me about a special sale this weekend. I sent them an email saying I was not too pleased with the timing and that they could have informed me that a sale was coming when I spent 50K+ for a vehicle. That was the extent of my email. I expected nothing other than an apology. Yesterday , they emailed me and told me they were giving me $1000 as a measure of their good faith with a regular customer. I have since received it.
Hard to believe but absolutely true. The company is Prouse motors.
Wisenheimer 10/19/2013 12:41:43 PM Report
Good stock picks for week .. (due to E.U. trade deal) Clearwater Seafood, and Highliner. Both trade on Toronto. You're welcome!
Wisenheimer 10/19/2013 12:45:42 PM Report
Tip .. most companies will make an adjustment on your purchase if the price goes down. 60 days after is the norm.
Retreaded 10/19/2013 12:50:30 PM Report
I agree we need city buses.....but...do they all have to be so large? Would it not save a lot of money to run those smaller buses,similar to the parabus size, in areas where numbers are not a factor?
Oldie Goldie 10/19/2013 1:13:42 PM Report
What do we have that Europe needs---Oil----but how do we get it to them safely ?
They might need our Wheat too but again it is a long distance.
They don't need our Beef or our Dairy products.
Spain and other European Countries can get all the Sea Food they want from off-shore.
They might buy some of our Communication Equipment.
What do we need from Europe---very little that we don't already have.
Europe could easily cause our Steel Industry to suffer and we could lose jobs over this one.
We will certainly lose jobs in our Dairy Industry as they send cheaper Dairy products to Canada.
But, in my opinion, we don't have enough details to know if Canada will gain by this Free Trade and there is a possibility that this Agreement could be a net loss for Canada.
Mark Brown 10/19/2013 1:25:34 PM Report
Thanks for your thoughtful response.
Yes, of course money can be saved through purchasing practices, and should be in each and every instance, but the simple fact is that $2 Million dollars cannot be saved, in my opinion, through purchasing practices, but it can be saved by raising the Bus Fares to more appropriate levels.
$100 a month is the same as $3.30 a day for complete local transportation for an individual... that's a HUGE DEAL!!!
The problem probably comes in when you are looking at a family of even as little as two people who have to use the bus, and then there should be some income qualification... people on Social Assistance should be given a deal to help them cope with their situation, AND the "working poor" should be given the same deal as the people on Social Assistance until they reach a level of income that would allow them to pay the regular rates.
That's my taxi driver theory and I'm stickin' with it. Thanks again for your sincere input djjazz09.
Sincerely and Respectfully,
Mark Brown 10/19/2013 1:27:39 PM Report
That's a very good idea, the only problem is that they recently bought a bunch of new to the Sault buses, and it costs almost exactly the same thing to operate small buses as it does big buses (I think :)
Sincerely and Respectfully,
Mark Brown 10/19/2013 1:30:06 PM Report
Hi Oldie Goldie,
Now I see why Harper wants to run a pipeline across Canada to the east coast!! It wasn't for Canadians it was for E.U.ropeans :(
Sincerely and Respectfully,
Grump 10/19/2013 1:55:50 PM Report
rw I agree this could be a huge win for Canada but we have damn few details and have no involvement in this other than Harper. Call me a lefty if you like but after his track record I wouldn't trust him across the street let alone across the Atlantic. I was no fan of the later Mulroney but the details of NAFTA were front and centre. I further still believe that if Duffy takes the big hit he will do Harper in and has info that could.
Just Curious 10/19/2013 1:56:36 PM Report
djjazz09; Don't you read the news at all.. The Chargers that you see running around with the city logo on them are refurbished police cruisers.. The city gets first dibs on them now and they are getting them for cheap....:)
flyhawk25 10/19/2013 2:45:08 PM Report
I don't have enough information on the EU deal yet to make an informed opinion.
But I have no reason to trust Harper based on his track record. 'Trust me' just doesn't work.
If he can prove how it will benefit the majority of Canadians I will support it.
So I'll just wait and try to be optimistic. Just like I am that Duffy is really Santa Claus.
Oldie Goldie 10/19/2013 3:13:52 PM Report
Mark Brown : Yes, the Oil piped to the East Coast might be a good idea---but getting it across the Atlantic to the E.U.is something else.
I don't think it would be economical for the E.U. to buy our Oil with other countries having Oil much closer to them.
The Oil piped to the East Coast will stop the Maritimes from importing it as they do now.
steelworker 10/19/2013 3:21:45 PM Report
flyhawk: 12:08 posting-"what are you smoking?" Just some stuff young Trudeau left last time he was in town.
Oldie Goldie 10/19/2013 3:22:06 PM Report
Mark Brown: The One-Way Streets helped to ruined Gore Street businesses but I think they would have failed anyway eventually as Parking was a major problem too.
How many houses near Gore Street will have to be bought up to get the Parking they will need to refurbish the Gore Street Businesses ?
flyhawk25 10/19/2013 3:33:25 PM Report
OG...not many if they build a multi-tiered parking garage with easy pedestrian access to the street.
When will this city learn that you can actually build good secure parking in limited space if you go vertical not horizontal?
BIG BROTHER 10/19/2013 4:15:46 PM Report
Here's an interesting link. Enbridge oil piped across the Straits of Mackinac. Aging pipeline (60 YO) and in poor condition. This is why we need oversight of transportation of oil. We all import oil Oldie. Train, boat, pipeline....pick your poison. Unless you're Jed Clampett.
Wisenheimer 10/19/2013 5:22:44 PM Report
The reversal of Enbridge's #9 line and Transcanada's proposed pipeline west-east will supply Alberta oil to hungry refineries in Ontario (Shell & Imperial), Quebec (Suncor & Valero), and Irving Oil's big refineries in the Maritimes.
Currently all oil refined and sold in Eastern Canada is Opec oil. It comes from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Nigeria, etc.
And yes our oil will be sold on the world market because the oil sands are gearing up to produce considerably more than our refineries could handle. Currently our only customer for our oil is the U.S. and Mr.Obama and Daryl Hannah don't want any more. Fine, China, India, and Indonesia do. Piping oil (or railing it) west to east will produce gasoline, royalties, taxes and jobs for Canadians.
mallet 10/19/2013 5:48:29 PM Report
Not wishing to rain on your parade. but before they start producing more oil they need to get the transportation sorted out. I am not that enviromentally friendly but I do not wish to be evacuated every few days because CN has derailed and set fire to everything or the pipeline has ruptured and blew a gaping hole and poisoned the land for miles around.. Track maintenence is rotten from what I can see, which I believe is one of the reasons why we have no rail service in this part of the world..
Just Curious 10/19/2013 6:02:15 PM Report
Mallet; track maintence????What is that??Unheard of in the north..They were put down 150 yrs ago and should still be fine.I walk my dog along the track in the Soo between Pine and Black road and that section of track alone is deplorable.. I can only imagine what most of the track betwen here and Sudbury is like. No wonder most of the way is 30k or less.. Takes a train all day to get to Sudbury,which is one of the reasons you will never see Bud car service in our lifetime...
steelworker 10/19/2013 6:10:33 PM Report
Just take a walk from Peoples Road to $th Line and check out the rail line. The further north you go the worse it gets. Up around Sand Lake the tracks are in deplorable condition.
flyhawk25 10/19/2013 6:32:03 PM Report
Obviously the railroads in Canada haven't made enough money or gotten enough tax money to rebuild their systems.
Who cares if the rest of the world has systems that work. Most of them rebuilt after wars and don't have our distances and harsh climate.
Obviously what they need is more of our money.
mallet 10/19/2013 7:41:12 PM Report
I think that the ACR or whatever they are called today got a load of money for track replacement for the line north, which seemed to be spent in the rail yards, haven't heard of them having any derailments there for a while... guess that was more important...Didn't they also get 15 mil$ not so long ago for the tracks towards Sudbury or Essar was going to,.,.,.,
Wisenheimer 10/19/2013 7:47:20 PM Report
TransCanada will build their pipelines all by themselves. Won't cost you a dime.
Tried to tell Barrack and Al that pipelines were the way to go. I believe CP and CN will also foot any rail repairs that are required if pipelines are stymied.
Our North line is a charity case to keep the Agawa Tour going and one wonders how well maintained it is.
flyhawk25 10/19/2013 8:20:50 PM Report
'...won't cost you a dime'.
Then they'll just give things to us and it won't cost us a dime. And Christmas will come with the tooth fairy.
Ho ho ho.
Mark Brown 10/20/2013 2:21:42 AM Report
Thanks for your thoughtful response to my max 1.8% tax increase (this year), but I have a question about the part of your comment where you said, "I';d like to see your idea as a 'firm guideline' and to work from that."
I know you are a person of precision so when you say 'firm guideline' what exactly does that mean?
Does it mean City Council will use the max 1.8% as an absolute CEILING, or as a MINIMUM STARTING POINT, or something else... what does "firm guideline" mean, and if it is not a ceiling then how is your non-"chiseled in stone" "firm guideline" suggestion any different from what is currently being done?
Let me know please :)
Sincerely and Respectfully,
Wisenheimer 10/20/2013 1:03:36 PM Report
Fly .. thanks for your thoughtless reply.