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CFBB Response to passage of 3.3% Budget increase

 

CFBB is pleased to see that Council specifically listened to public comments and concerns expressed during the budget process. Quashing or deferring expenditures focused on employee betterments such as a dedicated exercise and fitness centre , large common area TV screens, Councillor office budgets and phasing in office renovations was an appropriate response to the public message that optics relating to accountability and responsibility matter.

The special levy of 2% included in the 2017 budget begins to address past deferrals of much needed infrastructure up-grades in the City, a situation bedeviling many communities across the province facing the same infrastructural needs.

It is our hope that Council will be addressing the need for property tax reform in order to address the thousands of investment properties that do not contribute their fair share for infrastructure and city services. Any future tax levies that will be required for provincial responsibilities should also be carefully considered moving forward.

It will not be easy, perhaps even possible to keep taxes at or below the rate of inflation, given that the community is growing so quickly and we have this huge infrastructural backlog to take care of.

When the Region of Peel and the School Board requirements are combined with the local tax levy, the overall impact on the taxpayer results in a property tax increase of 2.3%.

Altogether, CFBB feels that this is a responsible budget for the City of Brampton in 2017. However we feel that more work will need to be done next year. 

We thank both staff and Council for their dedication and considerable efforts on behalf of the taxpayer.  

CFBB


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CFBB Opinion-  $6 million Funding Announcement for Brampton Civic Hospital.

William Osler Health System Press release:

December 2, 2016  at 1:00pm

We’re pleased to announce that we received an extra $6 million to support the opening of all 608 funded beds at Brampton Civic. This means we can improve access to care and reduce the length of hospital stays for those we serve.

Just over a week ago,  Brampton Springdale MPP Harinder Malhi joined Mayor Jeffrey and other distinguished guests to accept a funding pledge of $6 million dollars to William Osler Health System.  The funds would be to support the opening of all 608 beds at Brampton Civic Hospital.

To most this announcement was greeted with great enthusiasm.  I however felt a great sense of relief, followed shortly by anger. Anger that it took several years to get this last stage of funding!  Funding for beds that were promised over 9 years ago! To make matters worse, this is a hospital that not only had the busiest ER in the Province, more recently had become the busiest in the country!  In a city that has seen explosive growth surpassing 600,000 residents, making it the 9th largest in Canada!

Why did it take several years to obtain this last $6 million dollars of funding?  Why weren’t alarm bells ringing at Queen’s Park?  Over the summer both the leader of the PC party Patrick Brown and NDP leader Andrea Horvath addressed the overcrowding at Brampton Civic Hospital in the Provincial Legislature.  Overcrowding that had patients strewn in hallways on stretchers, waiting for beds that were not available.  It was impacting the quality of healthcare in our city and putting an unnecessary strain onto the front line staff.  The lack of bed space prolonged  ER wait times and frustrated patients and their families. All it took was an additional $6 million dollars to finally complete our hospital almost a decade after opening its doors.

With what seems like weekly funding announcements emanating from Queen’s Park, the countess scandals that have wasted billions of tax dollars and a civil service  “Sunshine List” that’s out of control,  it’s SHAMFEFUL that Brampton residents have had to wait this long!  Only $6 million to finally open all 608 beds!  Where were our Brampton MPP’s  to openly and aggressively lobby for this urgently needed funding?

I believe it’s time to call out this Provincial government on its poor planning for Brampton’s healthcare needs.  It’s time to say that it’s unacceptable to play politics with our healthcare!  It’s time to get what this city urgently needs and deserves, a second full service hospital.

We urge all Brampton MPP’s and Mayor Jeffrey to demand that Peel Memorial Phase 2 planning begin immediately.  Planning that includes a second ER for Brampton and 200+ in-patient beds. We simply can’t wait another decade for additional healthcare services.

We are the only Top 10 City in Canada with one emergency room and one full service hospital.   A Top 10 Canadian city with less than 1.0 bed per 100,000 residents,  whereas the national average is more than double that at 2.3 beds per 100,000 residents.  Earlier studies had shown that Brampton would need 930 beds back in 2008,  yet we will only have 608 beds fully open in early 2017.

I acknowledge that the opening of Peel Memorial Phase 1 and its Urgent Care Centre will help relieve some of the pressure from Brampton Civic in the short term. However, planning for only one ER Department for our fast growing city , simply put , is inconceivable and irresponsible.

Chris Bejnar

Co-Chair CFBB


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Budget Surprises

 

Annual Municipal budget presentations and discussions open for public input are an essential part of operating any municipality. Details of projected revenue and expenditure estimates are laid out for the coming year, and include both operating and capital needs. After debate, agreement and approval is reached and the tax rate implication is communicated to the taxpayer.

For the process to work well, with as little upset as possible, it is a fundamental requirement that there is full disclosure of back up details of and the reasoning behind recommendations and initiatives for expenditures made to Council and the public by staff. Any lack of transparency which results in questioning intent or uncovers surprises which cause suspicion are ominous signs. And trust is often the victim.

CFBB has already delegated on some important concerns dealing with the Mayor’s staff complement and its cost to the taxpayer. As well, we have made an impassioned plea for the Council to address the need to have those property owners with secondary units pay additionally to defray the cost of fire protection, waste excess, and schooling overload.

In the paper this week, we have been alarmed to learn that some significant projected budget “asks” were somehow not made public by staff. Particularly egregious were the recommendations to provide an in-house $200,000 fitness centre for employees, $116,000 for artwork and three big screen televisions in the employee lunch room, over $1,250,000 for 5th and 6th floor renovations to improve office relationships amongst Councillors, and $100,000 to develop and install new “way-finding” signage in City buildings.

Did anyone at City Hall consider the optics of these requests? At a time when the City is facing a massive infrastructural shortfall which will require a special levy on the taxpayer, and a major severance exposure to meet the impact of the “house cleaning of staff” two months ago, CFBB believes that the above requests show a lack of sensitivity to the aggrieved taxpayer, already carrying the weight of the hospital levy assigned for equipment needs at the new Peel Memorial Health and Wellness centre.

To put it in perspective, staff, for instance, need to compare their work environment and their guaranteed benefit package with the private employee, their benefits and lack of employment security where uncertainty reigns supreme these days.

It is our hope at CFBB that those who have proposed these expenditures take a detailed look at these initiative requests, and determine whether they can be justified at all in this year’s upcoming budget. And as a caution, the taxpayer and CFBB do not react well to any lack of transparency from the administration, on new unjustified expenditures, on unfulfilled contracts, on sloppy oversight, and on exposures to legal matters that may have significant impact on the citizen and the City. Collectively, we will not be taken for granted.

We are pleased to see our Mayor asserting her leadership role in support of the taxpayer and voting against some of the same requests that CFBB found to be unacceptable and optically deficient.

Doug Bryden and Chris Bejnar CFBB co-chairs 


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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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