Watching the Public Purse by Shirley Dolan

Recently, someone remarked to me that we will have a good summer because there are no elections taking place. This would be good news for those of us who were involved in the 2014 Ontario Provincial Election and immediately after, in the Municipal Elections across Ontario. But alas, this is not the case. Many of the same people who volunteered in 2014 are likely working on the provincial Conservative leadership campaign (the leader will be selected in May) and for candidates preparing for the next Federal Election in the Fall (or possibly sooner if you believe some of the pundits). In addition to this is the ongoing work of the Ontario Landowners as they push back against bad laws and regulations, educate the public about their rights and governments about their limits.

Increasingly, Landowners are getting involved in municipal affairs, by running for office, attending council meetings, holding municipal law seminars. A number of Landowners ran and were elected to office in the October 2014 municipal election.

Landowners will benefit significantly from the new spotlight on councils and how they are performing. One of the first items of business is passing the annual budget. This is likely to be the least favourite item in which constituents want to engage. Budgets are complex and require a significant amount of time to review.

However, the rewards can be substantial. Are our tax dollars being used wisely? Are funds being allocated where they are most needed?

One of the areas to watch is your municipality’s funding of the Conservation Authorities (CA). 33% of CA funding comes from municipal levies, the rest from self-generated revenues and government transfers.
CAs are always looking for more funding and at least one municipality is opposing a proposed increase of 1.9%. See Brockton Opposes Conservation Hike.

But not all municipalities will object to such increases and so it is left up to us, the ratepayers, to encourage our councilors to push back.