Yes, it’s time for affordable taxes

cham-2 cropped 2Ward 3, through my door knocking across the ward it’s clear that you are concerned about how your money is being spent at City Hall. You work hard in support of our city in any number of ways, through your paid and unpaid commitments to this community.

You expect and deserve accountability for how your tax dollars are spent at City Hall. And yes, you deserve priorities that make sense to you. It’s your money!

You’re told a lot about how great things are now but your roads need to be fixed. You want the buses rolling, the roads cleared in the winter, and you’re tired of the orange paint on your sidewalks.

For many of you, concern about the affordability of city services is a real. And it’s time that you’re heard. You are my experts.

Ward 3, many of you don’t see year after year increases in your income, and if you do, it’s often not above the Consumer Price Index. That’s reality.

So, it’s time for City Hall to recognize that tax increases can’t happen outside of what the payer, that’s YOU, can afford. It’s time to send that message. Please vote for me.

And what’s affordable also relates to what is sustainable. If the payer into the system is taxed year after year at rates higher than increases to their household income, where does lead?

What does that mean for you?

It can cause a lot of stress.

Ward 3, yes, it’s time for affordable taxes. Please vote for a more respectful attitude about your money, please vote Craig Chamberlain.

You can vote online, at the advance polls or on Election Day, October 27, 2014.

And thank you for all of the encouragement!

Craig

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City of Guelph Contract No. 06-043

cham-2 6Transparency includes posting information online — but it has to go beyond that.

To me, transparency is about providing full information, and providing it in a format that is easy to access and read. That means doing something more than posting bits of information on the City website and leaving it for you to pull it all together, if you can find it.

And without REAL transparency — that is, presenting information completely, presenting it in a way that is easy to find and understand, there is no REAL accountability. It’s not hard to do better, and you’re paying for it with your taxes.

So, when City Hall falls short, it does raise questions and that’s valid. And when it engages in spin, when it goes into spin-overdrive, it’s a disservice to the whole organization, along with the disservice it represents to each of us as citizens.

Low transparency and spin doesn’t do anything to promote an example of respect with those that City Hall engages, be it City staff, citizens, would-be collaborators, those we do business with, those who want to invest here — which is at the core of the problems at City Hall.

There needs to be an example of respect and council has a unique role to play in this regard. It sets the example for the entire organization.

Respect was very much lacking when City Hall told us not to worry about how the Urbacon costs would be covered, that they’ll just come out of the City’s reserves. Only, those reserves are our reserves. We all did what we needed to do to pay into those reserves through our taxes.

I knew change was needed at City Hall, but wow, that was revealing.

Which is to say, change must happen at City Hall and it must begin with council. Change requires a change on who is sitting around the horseshoe. Please vote for better government, please vote for Craig Chamberlain.

Guelph City Council put this project into motion by accepting the recommendation to proceed with City of Guelph Contract No. 06-043 at a Special Meeting of City Council on June 26th, 2006 (click here to access it).

And now, incredibly, some would have you think it’s all yesterday’s news, it’s a closed matter, and it’s time for you to just move on already. Which suggests THAT certainly is not the case for you!

The fact of the matter is we now have about a multi-million dollar hole in the coffers we all paid into — we still have THAT. And actually, it’s not over yet, as we are waiting on the Aviva settlement.

And let’s not kid ourselves, Urbacon happened within a culture at City Hall. It didn’t happen in isolation of it.

So, yes, without a change towards more accountability and respect, without a better example of accountability and transparency by council, we’ll see more misadventures with the public’s tax dollars.

You can bank your tax dollars on it.

The following is an example of this citizen simply wanting more transparency regarding the costs associated with the Urbacon fiasco. It’s incomplete, and it will be inaccurate, which is part of my point (but never my intention). Citizens don’t have a simple, straight-forward list of expenses from City Hall, which undermines the public trust.

City Hall has the means and the responsibility to present information in a clear manner and not leave it to citizens to have to fish around for it. They deserve nothing less for their taxes and the Ward 3 incumbents should have demanded it.

Urbacon-related Costs (Original Project Total: $50,749,700)
Demolition of Memorial Gardens: $2,063,700
Contract for City Hall: $32,498,000 (Includes underground parking component)
Contract for Courthouse: $9,502,000
Architect’s fees for City Hall: $1,963,000
Architect’s fees for Courthouse: $703,000
Other: City Hall: $1,636,000 (Fees, permits, fixtures)
Other: Courthouse: $284,000 (Fees, permits, fixtures)
Contingency: City Hall: $1,624,900
Contingency: Courthouse: $475,100
Financing/ Borrowing Costs ?
City staff time/ City resources on project ?
City staff time dealing with Lien claims ?
City Legal: Trial preparations ?
City staff time/ City resources: trial prep ?
City Legal: Trial ?
City staff time: Trial ?
Expert witnesses at trial ? (Included in outside legal expenses)
City Legal post-trial ?
City staff post-trial ?
City Legal, trying to change 2nd trial date ?
City Legal, reviewing settlement ?
City staff time, reviewing settlement ?
Additional leasing costs due to delays $481,119
Outside Legal costs: $2,233,982 (This is what we are told in terms of our legal costs)
Settlement costs: $5,855,264 (We settled for $6.635M with Urbacon, but let’s just use this number)
Aviva Settlement Costs ? TBD
Additional completion costs $8,346,261 ??? Additions, change orders, change of contractor…
Total: $67,666,326

 

Background email correspondence with City staff

Dear Mr. Chamberlain,

Thank you for your e-mail. I am happy to clarify project costs for the City Hall and POA Courthouse project.

You are correct that the contract cost for the project totalled $42 million.

This is different from the project construction cost, which includes design, architect, and engineering fees as well as other costs. The approved budget for the project was $54.8 million ($42 million for City Hall and $12.8 million for the courthouse). Federal and provincial grants and other funding increased the total funding available to $56,711,399. The total project expenses prior to the litigation and settlement were $56,968,414, which means that prior to the litigation the project had a deficit of $257,015.

The additional leasing costs incurred during the delays totaled $481,119. On the other hand, the delay in moving into the building would have resulted in some operating savings (for example, utilities and cleaning costs), so the net additional operating cost to the City would be lower.

You are correct that legal costs do not include City staff time; they include the City’s total outside legal fees, expert reports, expert witnesses and other witness fees.

The settlement cost is $6.635 million as reported. But the actual net cost to the City is $5,855,264; this is because funds remain of a holdback the City already paid into court to satisfy subtrade lien claims. The subtrade claims will be satisfied from the settlement funds and so the City will receive the balance in the court account.  The City will also receive input tax credits.

It is this $5,855,264 that, when added to the $2,233,982 in legal costs and the original $257,015 deficit, brings us to the total overage of $8,346,261 that was publicly reported.

Thank you for writing to clarify this information. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

***

Good Afternoon Craig,

Further information for you regarding costs arising from the City Hall move.

1.      With regard to our relationship with landlords: Was the City sued by the landlords as part of the move? No, we were not sued by the landlords. There is one outstanding matter related to leasehold improvements but it is not related to the Urbacon litigation.

2.      With regard to the County: When the decision was made to terminate the builder, was the County informed of this action ahead of it, was there consultation on this move? When and how did it become aware of it? From memory the County had @$5.5M in it for the courthouse. We are not aware of the nature of communications between the County and City during this period as they related to Urbacon; the Provincial Courthouse project was the next phase of the project and was not scheduled to commence until after the building was commissioned, employees were relocated.

3.      With regard to extra moving costs.

The lump sum of $481,119 include invoices for moving.  A  review of the files renders two entries totalling $ 9900 (move from 42 Wyndham and 98 MacDonell) plus extra staff time of $1600. I have rounded these sums up.

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Broken. Public. Trust.

 

The bottom line for Ward 3 Guelph citizens:

Urbacon fiasco = broken public trust.

 

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The best-engaged ward in the city? Not yet.

Thank you for all of the positive comments about our election signs! It really is encouraging. We’re proud of our signs, just as we are proud of our ward!

It’s time for a new style of politics in Ward 3. I’ve met many of you and you’ve told me that you’re ready for new energy in Ward 3 and at City Hall.

I want Ward 3 to be the best-engaged ward in the city. Hey, why not? As I mentioned in my previous post, better engagement leads to better questions and therefore better decision-making — decisions that impact on you, your family, your business or your employer, so let’s get talking.

Enough is enough, you deserve better action with your money.

2723I was recently asked where is the best engagement is currently happening in Guelph. It was a great question and when it comes down to it, it’s actually about all of us striving to be better, it’s about the challenge of being the best, and what that means for Ward 3, but also, what this challenge to other wards could mean for the city as a whole. We all win.

Please contact me at craigchamberlain@rogers.com if you’d like to meet with me, or if you’d like a lawn sign.

Also, we’re working very hard with this campaign. Please help us bring better representation to Ward 3 and better value for your tax dollars — please donate to the campaign!

Thanks!!

Craig

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The Guelph Factor

cham-2 cropped 2Ward 3 candidates were tweeted yesterday on whether the Guelph Factor is fact or fiction.

To me, yes, without question, the Guelph Factor is real.

Guelph Factor: Fact.

As I tweeted previously, I’ve heard first-hand accounts of it during my run to be elected as a Ward 3 councillor. My tweet (along with the tweet to candidates, I’m guessing) was in response to a recent comment by a Ward 3 incumbent that the Guelph Factor was a “myth”.

I am surprised that a councillor would make that claim — and I will leave it to you to make your own conclusions about it.

We need to move forward from the two responses that seem to come forward regarding the Guelph Factor from the Ward 3 incumbents — roughly:

1. The Guelph Factor doesn’t exist, it’s a myth
2. The Guelph Factor doesn’t exist but if it does exist it’s a good thing

How about, instead;

1. The Guelph Factor exists, and it’s unproductive to suggest that it doesn’t. And it’s bad for Guelph.

For all of the reasons why we care about our city and for all that we should hope for it, including attracting future private-sector investment without having to over “incentivize” it, we have to address the Guelph Factor.

To that end, I think change is required, change that extends beyond operational changes by staff, as important as that is.

Addressing the Guelph Factor will require change on council as well.

Please support the campaign to elect me as your councillor, to bring balance to council decisions and priorities, better engagement and better value for your tax dollars.

Please vote for me and also, please donate to the campaign and take a lawn sign!

And… Thank you for the support everyone!

Craig

https://twitter.com/Ward3Guelph/status/504769117228761088

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Are you on the Voters’ List?

registerAre you on the Voters’ List?

Through the City of Guelph’s website vote.guelph.ca you can:

  • Confirm if you are on the Voters’ List (click here)
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Online voting and advance polls in Guelph

Vote now key on computer keyboardAdvanced internet voting will be available from Tuesday, October 7, 2014, midnight (12 a.m.) to Friday, October 24, 2014, 11:59 p.m.

For more information regarding internet voting, click here.

From the City of Guelph’s vote.guelph.ca website:

Residents can vote early at any location within the city.

All advanced voting locations will offer accessible devices for voting: hand held touch pad, paddles, and sip and puff.

Date & Time: 
October 15 and 16, 11 a.m.–7 p.m.
October 17 and 18, 11 a.m.–8 p.m.
October 19, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

Locations:  
Guelph City Hall, 1 Carden Street, Room 112
Evergreen Seniors Community Centre, 683 Woolwich Street
Stone Road Mall, 435 Stone Road West, 2nd Floor, Unit R2

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Time for renewal on Guelph city council

cham-2 cropped 2I’ve been meeting many of you, and I thank you for that!

Thank you as well for your comments on what matters to you, and for your take on Guelph city council and how well you are represented on it.

I am someone who engages and listens. It’s not an election platform, it’s who I am.

I consider it my job to do the same if elected as your Ward 3 councillor on October 27th, to engage you and represent you and your aspirations and concerns at City Hall.

We’ve gotten away from that style of politics in Guelph. Through my example, I will bring us back to it.

That is my agenda.

It takes balance. I will bring that.

Many of you have mentioned your concerns around affordability. You love your city, but you want to be able to afford to live in it.

Affordability of city services is something I have been talking about since 2010. Now others are talking about it. I’ve noticed your City Hall is now talking about it as well.

That’s a good thing, and I’m glad for it!

Why?

Paying bills 2First, because affordability to me ties into fairness and sustainability.

Second, because asking questions about the decisions that are being made, how the City is being run and how our tax dollars are spent, and what an acceptable tax increase would be has for some time now — and even until fairly recently — brought a certain risk with it.

I’ve worked hard to shift that and make it OK for you and others to ask these questions without being portrayed as some kind of “regressive” bad guy.

Which is to say, I’m the real deal.

Paying bills 3I’m the real deal when it comes to asking questions for you, and more, I’m the real deal when it comes to standing up for you and your right to say what you want to say.

It’s time for a better style of politics in Guelph — we need a better way of discussing the issues — and that means it’s time for renewal on Guelph city council.

I am someone who can bring that, and it would be a privilege to do so on your behalf.

Please support the campaign to elect me as Councillor for Ward 3, and thank you to everyone who has provided help and good wishes.

Gratefully; Craig

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Craig Chamberlain on Twitter: @Ward3Guelph

Follow Craig Chamberlain on Twitter: @Ward3Guelph

 

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Our signs!

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