For too long most of us have been sitting on the sidelines watching various levels of Government fracture our economy and empty our pockets leaving a sad legacy for our grandkids- yes Midland it does matter!
Most of us live busy lives and like good citizens generally fall into line and trust the process and people involved; sadly, the community has been let down many times.
In our last update we wrote about several concerns with Midland’s 2019 budget and it seems Council wants to carry on with ‘champagne tastes’ that are not sustainable for long:
- 2019’s planned spending is $1.1 million higher than last year’s budget;
- In two years, 2018-19, Midland will have added a total of 10 full time employees (excluding police).
- Water and sewer rates are expected to increase 5% and 4% respectively on a compounded annual basis for many years to come;
- Midland is borrowing future ‘projected’ savings from disbanding MPS to fund a large part of the spending increase;
- We are in the middle of a Regional Government Review by the Ontario Government, which would suggest ‘cause to pause’.
Speaking of the Regional Government Review, North Simcoe and its four member municipalities (Midland, Penetanguishene, Tay and Tiny) embarked on an effort to develop one common position paper for all four. Consensus on a unified vision for North Simcoe was not achieved resulting in Midland submitting a ‘made in Midland’ version that is available on the town’s web site.
The optics of this outcome is unfortunate and supports the view that local government restructuring needs to be driven top-down by the Province. What derailed this local process?
- Are the four newly elected Councils concerned about losing personal power or local identity?
- Are some concerned that a unified North Simcoe could lead to tax increases for some places?
- Is senior staff fearful of losing their jobs?
- Or is it the amount of change, fear of the unknown or maybe all of the above?
The failed attempt to develop a common position for North Simcoe demonstrates why we cannot rely on those who are directly and personally affected to make the best choices in the public interest.
Our interim update in May spoke to the need to reduce overlap and duplication across governments and drive new efficiencies. Let us hope that as the work of the Regional Government Review continues, the Ontario Government will see the opportunity for improvements within our region and successfully execute on changes that put the taxpayer/customer first. After all isn’t putting the customer first what almost every candidate for Midland Council was saying a few short months ago?
On a related point, you might recall, just over a year ago Midland made a decision to disband the Midland Police Service (MPS) and switch to the OPP, the ‘right decision’ for the people of Midland. While nostalgia matters, the exercise was really about improving service levels while reducing costs.
This local policing example is exactly what the Regional Government Review is all about- placing the needs of the many above the needs of the few.
Midland Matters, You Matter and Making Informed Decisions Matters.