If you are voting for change, make sure you take the time to question your choice on what their plans are for managing the change that is yet to come.
By Daniel Rodrigues
Published October 20, 2010
In an era of discontent and frustration for taxpayers around the Province, it is expected that voter turnout will reach new levels on October 25, when folks young and old will head to the polls to vote for whom they think will be the best to represent their Ward & City.
While candidates vying for change are poking holes in the incumbents' historical positions and many speak of new 'motherhood' platforms, it would appear that absolutely no one is talking about the economy.
I'm not referring to creating jobs or better utilization of brownfields or green space, but rather the existing state of our demand on services, coupled with a decline in tax revenue due to the recent downturn in the economy.
This increased call for services is being progressively felt by the residential tax base, as decreases are being felt in the business tax base.
Regardless of why the business tax base is decreasing, the fact is that it is - which means we need to be vigilant on how our tax dollars are spent for these services.
In Hamilton, staff spoke about concerns of the 2011 draft when they prepared the 2010 budget. Their claim was that City budgets are always a year behind, and regardless of any uptake in the economy in 2010, gains realized would not be seen until the 2012 budget.
Simply put, a call for no tax increases is a call for service or job cuts, something that may not be unavoidable even with a tax increase.
Certainly inefficiencies can be called into check, minimizing reductions in staff and/or services. However, that will not solve the whole concern.
When we look around the City at some of the projects currently being undertaken, it is important to note that not all that cash to fund the project came from the local pocketbook, but rather Provincial and Federal grant support. That support will not be offered in upcoming years, due to each of those government levels facing larger-than-life deficits as well.
This impact will add further drain to our resources, especially when we are in a desperate need for infrastructure and road work on many of our streets.
This particular election has drawn many to look at events which have already occurred, akin to someone slowing down to look at a collision without looking at the road ahead.
If we spend too much time looking at the after-effects of that collision, we just might end up in another collision because we didn't prepare for the future.
Our distraction - and sometimes fascination - with how Council fared in the past has served as a cloud on deciding what is right for tomorrow.
Promises or statements of change are being thrown around like they are on sale, with no challenges of how or when these changes will take place.
Then there are the 'white elephants' that seem to be overlooked.
One example is area rating. Yes, this particular issue is in the hands of a pseudo-quasi-citizen forum, but remember - any recommendation brought forward from this group is not binding by Council.
Former City of Hamilton residents appear blind to the effects of area rating, while those in the former Communities are rallying for their own set of parameters.
Given that this is an issue to be dealt with after the election and depending on the outcome, we could see this decade-old issue remain unchanged for another couple of years.
In the recently aired Councillor debates, many took the opportunity to question the incumbent's history.
Yet few took the opportunity to extol why they would be the better alternative: how they would manage the looming budget concerns; how they would move Hamilton forward so that we're not repeating our discontent in 2014; and, how they would manage the ever-changing environment that is not only being realized in Hamilton, but around the Province.
When you vote on October 25, are you voting angry? Or are you voting for the individual who is going to manage the changes that we have not yet realized due to economic impacts?
There is no question that change is needed. Therefore, if you are indeed voting for change, make sure you take the time to question your choice on what their plans are for managing the change that is yet to come.
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