Tbnewswatch Local News
Thursday July 2 2015
12:34 PM EDT
2014-04-28 at 13:11

Chamber opposition

Charla Robinson, president of the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce.
Charla Robinson, president of the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce.
By Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com

The Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce is saying an emphatic no to a proposed one per cent tax increase to covera $5.73-million budget shortfall.

Chamber president Charla Robinson on Monday said city council and administration should look for ways to cut spending, rather than force taxpayers to dig deeper to cover the overrun, which city officials have blamed on winter weather, insurance and legal issues.

“Our analysis indicates that there is room for cost savings, showing that costs are higher in 20 of 27 expense categories when compared to other Ontario communities. We know that these are tough decisions and offer our support to council as they explore all options to reduce operating costs to meet this financial challenge,” Robinson said.

“However, the Chamber will not support an additional increase in the 2014 tax levy.”

The proposes increase is one of several options administration plans to bring to the table Monday night.

City manager Tim Commisso on Friday said by law the city must have a balanced budget and a solution is necessary.

Other options include using reserve funds, but Commisso said he’d prefer to avoid this as reserves were dipped into last year to cover a 2013 shortfall.

Council has also been given a $2.5-million list of restraint measures that include hiring freezes and trimmed-down travel budgets.

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The Beaver..... says:
@ musicferret
2) We do not have control over our police and fire budgets, with arbitrators awarding large raises every year.
We do have control over staffing levels, and we let that get away on us that has nothing to do with the Arbitrator
4/29/2014 11:08:00 AM
S Duncan says:
you know we're off the rails when the chamber of commerce (or ANY chamber of commerce) wants to reign in spending!

time to put the noses to the grindstone and stop this ridiculous idiotic spending spree we've been on since Commisso came back to town.

4/28/2014 11:48:28 PM
TBayMind says:
We need to think about the future of our city and what we should be spending money on before we take a slash-burn-approach to services. There are some responsibilities we need to do and some responsibilities that could be transferred over to the entrepreneurial crowd of our community. Day-care services as one example to be passed along, could become an awesome social enterprise where the business model meets the social benefit of the community at an affordable cost that provides a favourable environment for employment, children development and economic well-being. We need to have a conversation about how to deal with a community in time of regeneration. Perhaps between now and the election that needed conversation can begin. We need to have a plan and strategy which no seems to have at the moment; but it begins with us as citizens to make that a reality. We cannot take Thunder Bay for granted, its our community, lets look after it together and help city council do the job.
4/28/2014 11:45:26 PM
nvjgu says:
Raise it 8%, that's what it's going to be soon anyway. It's not worth owning a home anymore.
4/28/2014 6:46:56 PM
Pandora says:
Would Charla Robinson consider running for Mayor?

Or a seat on Council?

What we need are good candidates and not too many running against each other in a particular ward or at large.
The more dissatisfied people are= the more people that run, the more people that run, the more likely the incumbent gets back in! Or so it seems to me.
4/28/2014 6:31:12 PM
hardrawkin says:
I think that it is years of little or no tax increases that have got the city into the run down state that exists today. This Winter was more of the new norm and yes there should be a tax increase to cover the shortfall and the future costs. To save funds the city should consider alternatives to contracting out some of the roadwork. Some of the newer roads and water mains are falling apart already. We are not getting a bang for our buck.
4/28/2014 5:34:03 PM
YellowSnow13 says:
What are YOU talking about? This city spent just under $1,000,000.00, that a MILLION dollars, on 2 sticks at the marina they call art. Could that money go to better things? You talk about the city being run down and they spend like there is an abundance of cash for bad projects. I agree we are not getting a bang for our buck because NOBODY is cleaning house. Isn't that what Hobbs was suppose to do. He should of stayed as the union leader and let somebody with a business background run the city. Well, he'll be gone in the next election.
4/28/2014 6:22:24 PM
Pandora says:
What is a reserve fund for if not for such needs.
It would be a good idea to build up this fund for future weather related expenses.

City Admin and city staff needs to do more with less. No more hiring and no more raises. I think a 15-20% cut in wages for dept managers would be appropriate.
4/28/2014 5:27:05 PM
funinthesun says:
Some years back we had a City Manager who came into town and slashed MANY jobs in the city. Bruce Thoms was his name I believe.
I wonder where he is now and if he would like to apply for Commissos'job, because staff cut-backs sure isn't in Timmy's vocabulary.
4/28/2014 5:08:23 PM
gremlin says:
Here's an idea Leith. Why not do some real "investigative journalism". How about "investigating city workers" by observing their lunch/coffee breaks. This goes for all departments including police & fire.

Why not look into the "work absenteeism rates" for "union workers" compared to "non-union workers".

That would take real journalism.
4/28/2014 4:59:52 PM
Shane Caker says:
This is a powerful statement that has plenty of merit. It was a while ago, but I worked construction at the city Mountdale Ave facility. It was late winter/early spring. What I observed there was mind boggling. The waste collection crew would pull in for "lunch" at about 11:45 am. After "lunch" and a half hour or so of cribbage, they'd hit their route again around 1:00 pm, and be back at 3:00 pm and head home. The parks and rec crew guys were between seasons. It was too early to start taking the rink boards down, so they put perhaps a dozen coats of that ugly green paint on the the 45 gallon waste barrels and concrete benches that are scattered throughout the city. Clearly there was no work for these guys. When there's no work at my place of employment, I get laid off for a month or two. It's called seasonal work. As for the garbage collectors, an hour and 15 minutes for lunch and then home by 3? I saw this day after day for a few months. Surely some belt tightening is needed here.
4/28/2014 7:29:15 PM
Jack Frost says:
Charla Robinson for Mayor of Blunder Bay come October '14 !!
4/28/2014 4:58:36 PM
Tbaylifer 1 says:
I believe that this budget shortfall answers the question clearly We can not afford to build or maintain a multiplex. From borrowing to finish road projects ( golflinks road which still will not be finished to Red River Road) to not being able to start the Boulevard Lake Dam refurbishing ( second year now) to who knows what else will come up.
City council needs to wake up and stop with the dream works and focus on reality. No tax increase, use all the reserve funds at hand and plan to reblenish them in the future.
Unless those who still support the multiplex ( youth and young professionals) are willing to take on this added tax increase themselves.
4/28/2014 4:50:59 PM
musicferret says:
1) 2 of our largest costs are police and fire
2) We do not have control over our police and fire budgets, with arbitrators awarding large raises every year.

Until this situation changes, we are royally screwed in this city.
4/28/2014 4:14:11 PM
Kam River says:
The sad thing is after we elect a new council The new council is going to have a big mess to clean up.
By the time the new council takes office there is going to be a need for a large tax increase and a even larger number of city staff to be laid off.
The present council does not understand how many jobs have been lost because of their never ending tax increase and anti business stance.
We are still paying the special the to build the new hospital, even though it was paid off years ago.
4/28/2014 3:31:30 PM
The Beaver..... says:
The City has to reduce its work force and become way more efficient then it is now. The Chamber is right to point that out and its pretty frustrating to see over and over again that no one at City Hall can see that. The Vehicle Fleet is way to big for a City this size. Fire and Police employment has to be reduced. It can not go on like this and it has to be done soon ore we will be the Detroit of Canada
4/28/2014 2:45:25 PM
Lappewriter says:
what exactly is the reserve fund for ? Reserve fund is a one time withdrawal. A tax increase Is permanent .
4/28/2014 2:33:54 PM
signman says:

The Concerned Taxpayers of Thunder Bay agree completely with the Chamber of Commerce! City residents should not be forced to pay any additional taxes to cover any shortfalls in the snow removal budget.

The reserves funds were created with our tax dollars. There are many needs now to use these funds for such things as road maintenance, snow removal, repairs to Boulevard Dam and the list goes on.

Forget about building another white elephant that we can ill afford!

Wake up!
4/28/2014 2:26:48 PM
chezhank says:
Why did Mr.Commisso not recommend the $2.5 million restraint measures during budget talks.
In 2010 there was a $5.8 million budget surplus that was put into the stabilization reserve fund that can be used as Mme.Pollard (aka Busch)said in 2011 for unusual snowfalls in the year they occur.At the end of 2012 there was $15.8 million in that fund.
I asked Mr.Hannam,Mr.Commisso to post the 2013 numbers but they are not co-operating.
I also suggested to Mr. Commisso that administration take a 20% wage cut!

henry wojak
mayor in waiting
4/28/2014 1:25:44 PM
yqtyqt says:
Hank. The numbers are available. I've been able to confirm that much.

Why they cant be released prior to a $5.7 million discussion is a mystery.

Where have the funds gone. What available reserve funds are available. Why do they appear and disappear depending on what is being discussed.

Timmy/Carol. I thought we had transparency as a stated objective/goal. Is that concept only available for projects/shortfalls when its convenient?
4/28/2014 3:02:15 PM
chezhank says:
@yqtyqt Thanks to the power of the media(Leith)city administration and council chose to co-operate. You will note city administration updated the agenda after the story and posting. The sad fact is city administration only posted the reports this morning and some schedules and attachments to those reports this afternoon. The city clerk's office needs to be overhauled big time! Here is the link to the Reserve Funds that were finally posted. http://ctbpub.thunderbay.ca/ctbapps/nonlinecorprpts.nsf/dc478bb8f932d41085256afd0054df18/1ee18a7ad646901385257cc800635eea?OpenDocument
4/28/2014 5:12:18 PM
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