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Opinion: Mayor Jeffrey’s second half of her term

 

We should all want to see Mayor Jeffrey improve her ratings as outlined by the Guardian and CFBB. Here are our suggestions of getting to an A or A+.

1) Settling the Inzola lawsuit hanging over the City. Any resolution to this matter should minimize the potential impact to the taxpayer.

2) Set up a Task Force involving citizenry to make a recommendation on secondary units which will finally recognize that there is a huge cost to the City in allowing property owners to have these unregistered units without receiving a contribution from them to defray the cost, and to have the recommendation approved.

3) Removing the secrecy around the Mayor’s personal staff by setting out their respective titles, salaries and benefit packages, their respective job descriptions and what they actually do each day, and have this detail included in the annual budget.

4) Show more outward enthusiasm for the job and the need to market and promote the benefits of Brampton wherever and whenever possible. That will involve taking a leadership role in organizing and landing an appropriately funded university offering educational courses in S.T.E.A.M (Science, Technology, Environment, Arts, and Math). Additionally, the Mayor should become a steady and outspoken proponent of the Etobicoke Creek revitalization project which, when completed, will remove the flood threat in downtown Brampton, the single most and greatest obstacle to redevelopment of Brampton’s core.

5) Show that the Mayor is carrying the message of Brampton infrastructural needs to Queen’s Park and Ottawa by detailing growth projections, past unfairness and attention shortcomings. With Liberal majority governments in place and close relationships with the Prime Minister and Premier of Ontario, expectations are great to deliver funding and infrastructure that Brampton finally deserves.

6) Put in place a new, well thought through procurement process that will serve as a model of municipal good governance procedures to which the private sector can respond with enthusiasm.

7) Spend specific time improving relationships with all on Council which will result in less adversarial positions and build consensus and confidence in supporting her leadership.

8) Be more animated and involved in contributing to Committee discussions with pertinent and creative ideas that show her interest in resolving issues and finding solutions for new initiatives that will benefit the taxpayer.

9) Perhaps, to engage and communicate with the public more effectively, the Mayor might consider having a weekly call in programme hosted by Rogers Cable 10, similar to the successful one that former Mayor Hazel McCallion had in Mississauga years ago.

 

CFBB


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Linda Jeffrey – Comment on The Guardian’s Assessment of the Mayor after 2 years in office

 

Accountability: B      CFBB: B

We believe the Guardian rating to be reasonable. Although it was already suspected that the salary levels and numbers of City staff were bloated, the Mayor did retain the services of former Auditor General Jim McCarter to confirm the fact. It then awaited the retention of a new CAO to carry out the wholesale reductions a few months after he was hired. She can, therefore, take credit for the changes which were done under her watch. Her inability to move quickly on settling the Inzola lawsuit allowed this significant cloud to overhang her first two years in Brampton, and it still remains outstanding. Fairly or unfairly, she is now “wearing” it.

Transparency: C      CFBB: C

We agree with the Guardian’s assessment. It is not just that information that should be in the public eye was hidden; it is that there seems to be an attitude that the need to communicate and share information with the public simply doesn’t matter or isn’t important. The media should not have its questions and requests go unanswered.

Leadership: C      CFBB: C –

We believe that playing a leadership role at City Hall is not her area of strength. She appears to have difficulty building trust and across the Board loyalty, and consensus is all too often a victim. Her quiet demeanour and inability to promote important issues with energy and insight has not inspired.

Her specific performance on the LRT route through downtown to the GO station was surprisingly uninspiring and uninformed. She seemed unaware of municipal political process and the history of this file, and her vote in Council was confusing and unexplainable, even to the other Councillors some of whom were in support of her position.

She seems to desire anonymity regularly, protected by a cadre of paid staff in her office whose job descriptions and daily responsibilities are unknown. Her open door for the community all too often seems to be focused on a few groups who are in agreement with her positions.

Her criticism of Bill Davis and the University panel was unnecessary and not useful, and showed an annoyance which both surprised and angered.

CFBB would adjust the rating to a C –

Vision: B –  CFBB: B –

We would agree with the rating. However, the Mayor’s style and personality do not show excitement and enthusiasm for accepted and stated community visions for Brampton such as the potential “game changer” university for Brampton, or the Etobicoke Creek Rejuvenation project which, when completed, will obviate the need for the downtown development flood control restrictions. It has been a private group of Brampton business and community leaders called New Brampton which has initiated organizational and conceptual planning visions trying to move Brampton forward in the short term.

Public Engagement: B        CFBB: B

Again, we would agree with the Guardian. After a very poor start of public engagement involving the LRT project, the Mayor changed her position, and engaged the public in well attended sessions which helped immensely to reach a conclusion on the route. The public is now welcomed to make delegations at public Council meetings on items of community interest.

On the other hand, the Mayor is very selective in choosing where she will appear as a speaker, and too often does not even respond to invitations to address groups at their functions.  

Overall Summary Grade: B       CFBB: B –

We believe that an overall grade of B- would be more in line with our thinking. In our opinion, the Mayor’s halfway term has not been a failure, but she has been a disappointment, especially because of the expectation we had at the beginning of her term.

The good news is that there is reasonable room going forward to see and have positive progress for the last years of her mandate.


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Delegation Budget Comments – Chris Bejnar – CFBB Co-Chair

November 28, 2016

Good evening everyone,

My delegation tonight will focus on two important factors that impact the amount we have to pay on our residential property tax bill, unregistered secondary units and the unfair property tax levy for Healthcare.

Unregistered Secondary Units

We believe that secondary units are an important form of affordable housing that is made available to thousands of Brampton residents.  Without them many would not know what to do or where to go. As Brampton is one of Canada’s fastest growing cities and expecting another 290,000 residents in the next 25 years, secondary units are, and will continue to be an important and necessary form of housing in this city.

I also believe that everyone’s goal is to ensure that these units are all properly registered, and most importantly offer a safe and hospitable living environment our residents.

From the much referenced McCarter report, we know that a growing population directly impacts the operational expenses of the city. We also have learned from this report that only 23% of our property tax revenue comes from the commercial industrial base and a significant 77% is made up solely from residential property taxes. It’s encouraging that Council this year has moved to boost the commercial industrial base to a goal of 40%, however this will take many years if not a decades to achieve. We will still have the majority of our revenue come from the residential property tax base for many more years to come.

With Council looking at approving a tax increase of 3.6% in 2017, this is more than double the forecasted Canadian average inflation rate of 1.45% for 2016.

We all understand that these tax increases are to get this city back on track with many priorities like maintaining service levels, investing in infrastructure repair and replacement, as well as, enhancing core services with a focus on transit. I would imagine that these initiatives are for ALL residents, and not just the property taxpayers of the city.

So if Brampton’s main revenue source is primarily from residential property taxes,   I think we can all agree that this makes our City more vulnerable to the effects of having a significant population living in unregistered residential secondary units. Do we really know the numbers?

What we do know is that a landlord is in the rental business. Just like Peel Housing or private developers are also in the rental business, they are mandated to design, build and maintain a safe and clean living environment for their tenants. I’m sure we can spend a good hour or so going over all the by-laws and building code standards and permits that are required for constructing residential homes in this city.  By collecting rent, you now have an income property, a property that should be accessed at a higher rate by mpac. An income property that benefits the landlord financially with lower mortgage payments or extra monthly income.

By not registering their unit or reporting their rental income, the private landlords are not contributing their share to the delivery of education, city services, and infrastructure costs in this city. It is because they are taxed in exactly the same way as the property tax taxpayer that does not have a secondary unit in their home.  Is that really a fair system? Is it a sustainable system for the long term?

I believe that part of our problem is that we’ve allowed this issue to go on for so long investors are not treating the registration process seriously. By-Law enforcement has not kept pace or structured their department to look for violations during evening and weekends. We need to start realizing that the situation will only get worse, the anger of taxpayers will only become stronger and the future delivery of city services will be challenged.

So how can the taxpayers and citizen groups of this City assist Council for the advocacy of a revamped property tax system to organizations such as mpac and AMO. After all, it was the Province who passed Bill 140 banning Municipalities from making secondary units illegal. Passing a bill without offering any assistance to the municipalities for funding, sharing of information or new legal powers. It has left municipalities that receive a large percentage of residential tax revenue such as Brampton at a real disadvantage. It has pitted neighbours against each other, created an unfair tax burden on the majority of households, will affect the quality of delivered services and we will see above inflation tax increases for the foreseeable future. We need the investors and landlords in this city to finally realize that they contributing significantly to our higher property taxes. We need the landlords and investors of this city to realize that they need to pay their fair share to the future prosperity of Brampton.

Tax Levies

We’ve had an unfair tax levy put onto the property tax payers of the city to fund Phase 1 of the new Peel Memorial Healthcare facility in Brampton. A levy that only applies to the property owners in the city, yet allows anyone who lives here as a resident to benefit. In the past, the responsibility for building healthcare facilities has been the responsibility of the province, placing such facilities in areas of high growth and demand.

So why is it that the taxpayers of Toronto did not require a property tax levy for William Osler’s Etobicoke General Hospital redevelopment that’s currently underway, yet Brampton taxpayers did?

According to a statement from William Osler, the $330 million contract price will involve the construction of a new four-storey tower, will add approximately 250,000 square feet of space to the existing facility and house the services most urgently needed by the Etobicoke community.

Are we supposed to be grateful to the Province for its recent announcement to finally open all 608 beds at Brampton Civic?   A delay that affected the quality of our healthcare and labelled Brampton as one of the lowest ranked major cities for healthcare in the country?

What will the purchasing power of our hard earned tax dollars be in 8-10 years for the remaining $20 million of the $60 million tax levy when required?

How about the tens of millions of precious tax dollars that will be wasted because of the decision to build Peel Memorial as a multi-phase project? This should have been planned as a full service hospital right from the beginning based on many years of research.

We need this Council to aggressively call out the province for the poor planning of healthcare in Brampton and to immediately call on the Province to begin the RFP process for a fully funded Phase 2 of Peel Memorial that will include a second ER and a minimum of 200+ in-patient beds. It’s about time we start to become a bit more aggressive with this government or any future provincial government for the needs of our diverse, dynamic and growing city. We are the 9th largest city in Canada and 3rd largest city in the GTHA. We have seen growth that is unmatched by any other Top 10 city. The citizens of Brampton generate hundreds of millions of tax revenues to both the Provincial and Federal governments. So why do we continue to graciously accept inadequate funding for transit, healthcare and infrastructure that does not allow for this city to properly compete for investment dollars with our neighbouring municipalities. We can’t afford to keep funding these Provincial responsibilities with tax levies onto the property tax payers of this city.

Thank you

Chris Bejnar Co-Chair CFBB

 


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Delegation Budget Comments – J. D. Bryden – CFBB Co-Chair

November 28, 2016

A leadership attribute is to lead by example, isn’t it? We were all very supportive when Mayor Jeffrey, as one of her first initiatives as Mayor, reduced her very generous salary as Mayor by $50,000, from one of the highest in Canada down to a salary range in line with a Provincial cabinet minister in Ontario. With the recent restructuring at City Hall and terminations of many senior staff and managers, how can we justify the staff complement currently in the Mayor’s office? I believe our previous Mayor had a staff complement of two – currently there are six. The salary for the Mayor’s staff is around $600,000 annually. How can this level be justified to the taxpayers of this City when other departments have recently seen significant cutbacks and there is a proposed City portion tax increase of 3.6% on the table, double the current inflation rate average of 1.45%?

We believe Council too must share in the belt tightening measures. With monthly car allowances significantly above those in the private sector, and benefits the envy of most, can we get a commitment during the budget process that these levels will receive serious debate?

How much has it cost the taxpayers of this City to defend the Inzola lawsuit against the City over the past several years? How will the budget be impacted if the City cannot defend its position? In light of all the damaging articles which have been published in the media over the past year and even today, will the taxpayer be on the hook if the City fails to defend its position? Has there been any budget provision for this potential exposure?

Thank you for the opportunity to delegate.

Doug Bryden –


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