THE CURIOUS MIDLANDER (edition #11)
Now that the municipal elections are over and members of Council have taken the oath of office and had some orientation, we hope to see Council in action very soon. Our first curiosity for this edition is the recent newspaper article that includes five priorities from our new Mayor. He has named the King Street reconstruction, Midland Bay Landing development, Affordable Housing, Downtown Safety and Service Delivery as the five priorities. All of these are important however, we are curious if the Mayor consulted with the other eight members of Council or if these are only his priorities? The new Mayor surely must realize that he is only “one of nine” when it comes to making decisions and setting priorities. Perhaps the first priority for the new Council should be to have a meeting of Council and senior staff to discuss all potential priorities and arrive at a consensus that will set the strategic direction for the next four years. Perhaps members of Council should refer to edition #10 of The Curious Midlander that included many potential priorities for their consideration?
Setting the 2019 budget will naturally also be an important priority for Council in the next couple of months. Perhaps residents will realize some tax reductions from lower tax rates from Simcoe County and the Boards of Education instead of using these savings to hide and justify higher taxes for the Town of Midland portion of our municipal tax bill? The most recent Council was proud of their financial responsibility while neglecting to mention the actual tax increase was reduced from savings from both the County and Education taxes.
In 2018, Council approved a Cruise Ship Industry Study and a Parks and Trails Master Plan. Have these been completed? Where they delivered on time and within the approved budgets? Did they meet expectations ie. Are they practical and feasible? Can these important studies be on the Town website for residents to read?
Our final curiosity for this edition was included in the December Council report from the Treasurer regarding various budget related items. The item that has made us curious is the chart showing the number of employees in 2018. The chart stated the Town of Midland has 164 employees which translates into 134 full time equivalents. First of all, the chart is virtually meaningless without having comparative numbers from 2017/2016/2015. Perhaps the Treasurer can provide these comparisons in time for Council budget deliberations?
More curious are the 11 “contract” employees the Town had in 2018. We are curious to know why so many contract employees, do they meet standards set by the Canada Revenue Agency for tax deductions, what are the positions that are contracted, what are the terms and conditions, vacations, use of town vehicles, etc? Perhaps Council and staff could make this information public knowledge so residents can determine whether or not these contract positions are beneficial or not? Part of this curiosity is what is happening with the CAO contract? The current CAO indicated he would wait for the new Council to review and discuss a new contract. We hope to see at least some public, open and transparent discussions at the Council table regarding this important position.