Some Observations As Term of Council Ends

cropped-cropped-IMG_0000008712.pngLast night we had our last Administration and Planning Committee meeting for this term of Milton Town Council. 

It’s been a pleasure to serve on that committee for the last four years along with the chair Colin Best. 

It did strike me as odd that with the election just over 30 days away that there were very few candidates for Milton Town Council in attendance. Over the last few months, the public gallery has had a number of candidates for positions attend on a regular basis.  It brings me back to the last election campaign for me, when from early January to the last meeting I attended each one.  

The best piece of advice I received when I first thought of running for public office was to attend the meetings and see how the process works.  It will give you a better understanding about the job, what it entails and the demands it will have on your time.  After I started attending regularly back in 2010, many other candidates showed up as well.  The ratio of those who won vs who didn’t is actually pretty good.

It’s because they were able to speak to voters with the understanding of what a local councillor does and that goes a long way.  They were able to make promises to voters as to what they could or could not do.  Knowing about the job is important for everyone who puts their name on a ballot.

Over this last year there have been a few candidates who attended regularly which is good.  Some however have not.

Out of the candidates who are vying for the position of Local and Regional councillor for wards 1,6,7 & 8, aside from one who attended less than a handful of meetings, no one has shown up.  Even the former councillor who was ousted from office back in December (see the link here and here)  and who made promises to attend meetings has not once shown his face at a meeting.

Some will claim “I watched the meetings online”  If you want the job, you make the effort to attend and take part in the conversation.  There should be no excuse at all for not wanting to be prepared for the job you’re spending money on trying to get.

None of the candidates for the position I’m running for have spoken on ANY issues they claim is important to them.  When it comes to town input sessions on budgets, community services, infrastructure or parks that both myself and the town have hosted…Nothing.

For over the last year I have attended the Regional Council meetings to prepare myself and be ready to start working day one. None of my opponents have.

Their lack of attendance should speak volumes to voters this coming election. Where have you been all this time?

The choice is clear for voters in wards 1,6,7,8. Mike Cluett is ready to start working Day one.

I’ll see you at the doors.

Louis St Laurent Road Widening

LSL Road Paving from 25 to Bronte Street

For those residents who use Louis St Laurent between 25 and Bronte St you will see that the paving has begun to widen the lanes.

The Town is also looking forward to completing the construction of the overpass on LSL to go towards Tremaine Road as well later this summer/fall.

Looking forward for other Town and Region projects to be completed this year.  The winter did put many projects behind schedule with the extreme cold temperatures but everything is getting back on track.

Here is a link to more road paving projects from the Town of Milton.

We appreciate your patience.

I’ll see you at the doors.

 

Keep Taxes Low

Its a message we hear from many Milton residents throughout the year and especially around election time.  The next municipal election is to be held on October 27, 2014 in case you are wondering.

In a recent letter to the editor, one of my council colleagues brought up some concerns about spending at the local level of government.  You can find his letter here.

In a recent edition of the Milton Canadian Champion another resident expressed their views in agreement with council working towards keeping taxes as low as possible.  Milton does have the lowest tax rate in the GTA but over the last many years, the current and previous councils has been unable to keep the rate of increase in spending at or below the rate of inflation.

I’ve long been a supporter of the concept in keeping any increases at that level.  Long before I became a town councillor, I have talked about responsible tax increases if needed and made it part of my election campaign to vote against any increases in spending over the rate of inflation.  Sadly, I have not been able to support any budget since being elected.  It will continue to be my focus in the coming years & elections to keep the increases manageable.  To me its about affordability of living in Milton.  We continue to grow our residential tax base but still seem to dip into the pockets of taxpayers each year.

I don’t want to re-hash the budget debate of 2013, which saw our council approve an increase of 3.04% and as some saw on my Twitter feed, I posted my tax bill that has increased close to $100 for 2013.  Yes, property values did increase through MPAC assessments and those increases will be phased in over a few years, but to me $100 is a big hit to the household budget.

There are perceptions that Milton is a “rich” town.  While the average household income of Milton families does increase, so do their expenses and the cost of living.  Gas prices, water rates, and the cost of food hit us all.

But getting back to this past budget, we had an opportunity to have our increase roughly around 2.0-2.25% but there were 3 additions to the budget that pushed it to the 3.0% level.  The first one was to introduce Saturday transit service.  While many of my regular readers know I do support having a transit system in town as we continue to grow in population and with the hopeful addition of a Laurier University campus at the Milton Education Village, the need for transit will grow.

I outlined in a previous post that the numbers do not support the addition of Saturday service…yet. We will be receiving the 2013 Milton Transit Master Plan later this month at a council meeting that will provide details and projected growth in our transit system for the next 5 years.  However, at the time we were discussing the budget, we didn’t have this information.  Despite objections of a few council members including Councillor Malboeuf and myself, council approved the Saturday service (cost of approximately $80,000 for September to December 2013) which means roughly $240,000 per year starting in 2014.  This didn’t need to be approved as of yet and could have saved Milton taxpayers money.

Another item that was included in the budget was a change in parking bylaw times from 3 hours to 5 hours.  Every poll that was completed online and speaking with residents themselves during this discussion, I found that it was almost a 50/50 split on whether we stick with 3 hr limits or go to 5hr.  Of those that approved of the change to 5 hr’s many of you said it yes as long as it didn’t increase costs.  Well it did increase costs to roughly $65,000 per year for these changes.  Scheduling had to be changed to incorporate the shifts of the workers and extra signage as well.  Another cost that didn’t have to be implemented in 2013 or even ever.  Staff reports clearly said this would cost money and didn’t keep with the rest of the GTA municipalities that currently have 3 hr parking limits and are making it work.

Finally as Clr Malbouef outlined in the letter there was the $100,000 infrastructure renewal fund that was approved on the day of the budget meeting.  Combining these three initiatives pushed the increase to 3.04% and to a point where I couldn’t support the budget.  I did find it interesting however, that Clr Lambert, who voted in favour of two of the three ventures during budget discussions and when it came time to approve the the full budget, voted against it saying the rate of increase was too high.  If he didn’t support those two items, the rate of increase would have been lower and possibly more acceptable to taxpayers.  To me, it is a bit hypocritical to say one thing and do another to appease taxpayers come election time.

I’ve already stated my intentions to seek the position of regional councillor for wards 1, 6, 7 & 8 in the next election.  I find that there is a lack of leadership at both the local level and at the Region of Halton in these wards and with the many changes Milton will be facing in the coming years, we need to ensure there is a strong, effective voice at both the Town of Milton and the Region of Halton to fill this void.  Milton only has 3 voices around the Region table and as we continue to grow in size we need to maximize the quality of those voices when it comes to the needs of Milton taxpayers.

That being said I would encourage the taxpayers of Milton to contact the members of council who supported the increase in taxes over the last 2 budgets and hopefully as we move closer to election time in 2014 the message will be loud and clear….keep taxes low.

New Years Levee 2013

This year we continued our tradition of members of town council “serving” the public…literally.

Every year on January 1st Mayor Gord Krantz and members of town council host a levee, a meet and greet of sorts, for members of the public.  This has been a tradition for many years but since 2010 its had a bit of a change.  In the past, members of the Milton Historical Society have handled the event, from the coffee and snacks, to music and everything in between.  In 2010 members of council lead by Clr Cindy Lunau decided it would be fun if WE would take on those duties.

All the snacks and drinks were donated and arranged by members of council for the public.  So thanks to Tim Hortons (Steeles/Thompson Road) and LaRose Bakery for the coffee, tea and snacks.  I along with others took the time to serve drinks and greet residents as they came in to have a chat.  Thanks to Clr Colin Best and management of town staff, we had a display in the Milton Room of town hall to show residents the many projects underway in Milton which was a big hit.

Many thanks to everyone who came out this year to share in the holiday cheer, have some coffee and chat about important issues in town.  This is one of my favourite parts of the job and I know the other members of council feel the same way.

So on behalf of the Mayor and Town Council, thank you to all who came out New Years Day and the night before for the annual bell ringing as well.  We wish you nothing but the best for the upcoming year!  HAPPY NEW YEAR MILTON!