In an era of greater accountability and transparency the community must be informed as to how taxpayer dollars are being spent. The city should spend funds only if it is in the best interests of the residents it serves.
Recently, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request was made at the Civic Centre for the purposes of disclosing how much money in total had been paid out to employees in the form of severance costs. The request included those employees who had left or were dismissed from employment at the Police Services, Fire Services or City.
The wording of the FOI did not request specific employee payment information nor seek any information that could identify a specific individual, which is prohibited under the Act. However, there is no rule or legislative policy that prevents the Mayor from telling the community how much money in total he has allowed to be paid to these employees in the last four years.
Unfortunately the Mayor is refusing to release this information and would rather hide this total from taxpayers. So I have to ask why Mr. Mayor? Tell us how much you paid these employees to leave. Is this partly the reason our taxes went up 11 percent?
The Mayor has also had an opportunity to be more transparent and inclusive when it comes to setting the agenda for City Council meetings. However, he continues to prefer to be both judge and jury when it comes to deciding what items will be presented to council and which citizens will be heard.
In the past, two councillors participated on a rotating basis with the Mayor in deciding each agenda. Legislatively the Mayor and several councillors may set the agenda as long as there is not a majority of council present which would create quorum and in effect would constitute a closed door meeting on items which should be open to the public. So far the Mayor’s excuse to be more open and transparent is that he did not change the format of the meetings, but nothing is preventing him from moving back to a more open and inclusive format.
“I am committed to greater accountability and greater transparency when it comes to how we spend taxpayer funds and I will be more collaborative with councillors who should play a greater role in all aspects of governance, said Ring. My platform, which has been developed with community input, will strengthen our city, increase job opportunities and lower taxes. It’s time we had a full-time Mayor that put your interests first.”