Comment 56510

By goin'downtown (registered) | Posted January 15, 2011 at 18:56:52

Anyone following this besides A Smith, you might want to grab a beverage...and my apologies, too many quotes to respond to, so no quotes copied...

@ A Smith – you can’t just look at the percentage increases in spending without looking at the actual amounts, particularly in comparison to other departmental spending – and also increases, decreases and overall amounts of provincial and federal downloading. To use your example of social services, what if we were spending 50% of our taxes on social services, but had an increase in social services spending on par to wages? Would that be a good budget? No.

I’m the first to acknowledge that the entire Ontario Works system needs a major overhaul, but in the meantime, if that is where a disproportionate amount of our budget is going, do we cut culture and recreation from the people who aren’t on Ontario Works? Or do we continue with our culture & rec services and implement ways to get people off social services, whether that be re-training, counseling, or start-up incentive and loans?

And, no, Rob Rossini did not “mean to say” anything other than what he said. ???

To my knowledge, City Hall is looking now to make changes to City payroll, including freezes and rollbacks. Yes, it would have been much better to hold the City Hall payroll increases to 5.4%, without a doubt. The savings that you cite ($164-million) would go a long way to digging us out of our current economic problems, and would set a responsible tone to local government spending. That being said, we may lose some of the talented City employees that we need in the process (the good ones are probably already being wooed by other opportunities as we speak), but there are many ways to retain good employees besides just remuneration. I’m glad that you are keeping track of this type of data, and presume that you are doing something pro-active about it. I know it was on the December 15th Council Agenda (minus union workers), did you happen to go? The Minutes aren’t yet available. Government jobs, throughout the history of government, have always tended to be “good jobs.” To that end, people working for the public sector is better than people not working at all. They spur the economy much more than those receiving social services and/or unemployment, and of course, there is productivity and results as opposed to…none. And I still stand by our need for a public sector Economic Development Department. It’s bad enough when local business influences derail City decisions; I can’t imagine how corrupt a private sector company in the same role would be. We need to market ourselves to attract investment. Period.

Insofar as Hamilton’s increases in spending go, we don’t know the long-term effects. But we do know that progressive cities prosper. Many private sector companies have to spend money retro-fitting themselves in order to stay competitive and afloat. If they have fallen behind or been run ineptly, it’s even more painful an expenditure. But they have to do something in addition to merely slashing budgets.

I’m not justifying ineffectual and irresponsible governance. But I will back Eisenberger’s vision and attempts at investing in Hamilton now for future sustainability and success. He inherited a lot of shite. And, without a crystal ball, we don’t know how much WH dev’t, or IWS & neighbourhood dev’t, or LRT investment will benefit us. But the free market will not gravitate to a city with no decent quality of life and transportation systems. Because if the free market had been dominating the local economy for the past three decades or so, based upon our existing benefits and features, we wouldn’t have the majority of our population working for the public and health sectors. Which, I will say again, is better than not working at all. We were so heavy-manufacturing (steel) dependent that we tanked when the steel sector shifted away from us. And if there is a sector hiding around here somewhere to replace this wealth generation, please point it out. Otherwise, we need to keep trying to attract/find it. And then the shift back to a free market can take place.

I agree that we shouldn’t spend money that we don’t have to spend (nor should anyone). But I don’t think the City’s current economic development projects and spending are to keep up with the Jones’s. I believe that they are to attract investment in Hamilton so that wealth generation within a free market will occur. And then, the next wise move for government would be to phase out as many superfluous City jobs as possible, and allow for the privatization of as many projects and departments as possible - knowing that these phased-out City workers will find gainful employment elsewhere, locally. I agree that an overpaid City payroll and Culture & Rec would be the first places to start looking for savings; payroll for obvious reasons, and the latter because they appear to be the bling on the uniform. But if you just slash, slash, slash, you end up with the economic and morale catastrophes that we’ve had since the 80’s. Enough of that, don’t you think?

So back to balance – the expenditures to become competitive and relevant must occur simultaneous to sensible cost-cutting, which, judging by the data that you have, doesn’t appear to be happening. So I continue to support Council’s decision to invest in Hamilton. I would think the next step after the Pan Am/Ivor Wynne situation has been ratified, would be to put pressure on City Hall to freeze those wages – including union.

“Do parks need to be maintained at an average of $106k per full time employee?” If that is correct, that is insane. From where is this data cited?

I was pretty sure of what your position on the Pan Am/IWS situation would be. But I believe that if you avoid investing in opportunities to market yourself and remove morale and pride from your citizens, you’ll find yourself marketing to yourself. Because your citizens certainly won’t recommend anyone moving their company or family here, that is, if they even stay.

Hamilton was a boom town before the rest of the world figured out how to make steel (and other manufactured items) cheaper. I believe that is why our GDP, and indeed our entire economy, pales to Alberta’s. Ontario also has 4 to 5 times the population, which means 4 to 5 times the social services being drained since the beginning of the recession. I also believe that we are in transition, if I haven’t made that more clear before now. I also believe that if Fort McMurray’s oil supply dried up and they experienced what Hamilton did from the decline of the steel industry, they’d be looking for jobs in Hamilton.

I agree with you, and I think everyone in this country also does, that we are over-governed to our economic detriment. The more engaged citizens we have, the less our governments can presume that they’re unaccountable. Perhaps that is where the problem started, decades and decades ago. People rescinding their role as citizens. And it’s time we reclaimed that power and role.

Now isn’t that what RTH is all about?

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