Perhaps you’ve noticed the snazzy new street signs being installed around Midland, specifically up and down Hugel Avenue with more to come. The signs are attractive no doubt but… aren’t we in self-imposed austerity right now?
We have learned from sources at Town Hall that the signs cost $40,000 plus another $12,000 for the brackets that they didn’t budget for and had to purchase after the fact. We can then add in wages to install these “nice-to-have” but not “need-to-have” signs.
Once again, where is the outrage from MidlandCommunity.ca who’s “minimums only” stance demands made on this Council are obviously falling on deaf ears. No rebuke for this waste is found in their updates. Silence must equate to support or acceptance.
Trying to cut out 1.5 Million from our budget in a redux of the original motion introduced by Councillor Strathearn and initially rejected by the rest of Council. The new motion seeks to save the same money but with a different timeframe and has the support of Council. A full examination of perceived waste and unnecessary expenses in all departments is long overdue according to our past interim CAO. I cannot see any harm in looking for waste and cutting unnecessary expense and support it. Council also imposed a hiring freeze and is still in the midst of funding the golden parachutes for the all the staff they fired or retired (directly or indirectly) over the past two years since taking office costing us anywhere between $500,000 to $1,000,000 by time it is all paid out. Let’s add to the facts that Council is also looking at outsourcing everything they can, starting with police dispatch and there is talk of parks and rec being next – while they fight with the OPSEU labour over salaries and benefits. Then there is the liquidation of profitable assets like the PUC that is now for sale to the highest bidder… And we are building a new operations centre that has already gone millions over budget before the first shovel was in the ground. Once again, there is an argument for the new building but… where are our priorities?
It just seems an odd contradiction to purchase and install new street signs on a large-scale to replace perfectly good street signs. Sure, there were some that were in need of some care, maybe even replacing, but to do a mass order and begin changing them all seems excessive in times like these. Cutting services, cutting senior staff only to hire new ones and then a freeze on general labour positions that are accessible to everyday towns folk.
Sure I like the signs but I don’t like the message it sends… much like council’s demands that all departments come in at zero percent increase while they vote themselves a 1% increase and keep drawing benefits just stinks of hypocrisy. Tourists aren’t going to say, “gee let’s come back to Midland because they have those pretty street signs!”
Are we trying to grind down a deficit and only pay for priorities or are we buying everything we “want” even though we only have the money for the things we really “need”. New signs would not top my list. Fix the ones that need fixing and keep the rest of the money in the bank. Something tells me we will need it.