Mayor is looking for a way to communicate with the people who pay the taxes - he's hoping a Telephone Town Hall will draw an audience.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 10th, 2017


The Mayor tried this once before – it didn’t work out all that well. But he is game to try it again.

Goldring and Carr Cogeco Cable

Mayor with Mark Carr preparing for a live call in Cogeco broadcast from city.

Sometime during his first term of office the Mayor teamed up with Mark Carr and Cogeco and set up a call in show that was done live from the city Council Chamber.  There were very very few calls.

This time the Mayor is going to talk to his constituents about the budget priorities in an online Town Hall.

In the past the city has held public meetings to talk about the budget – the Mayor is now saying that “We’re making changes to our budget engagement strategy based on last year’s survey results which told us residents didn’t want to come to a public information centre and would prefer a more convenient way of being informed and asking questions.”

The photographs taken of previous public budget meetings show a room filled with people.  There was one exception – in 2015 – a snow storm kept people away.

A rapt audience listened to an overview of the 2014 budget. What they have yet to have explained to them is the desperate situation the city will be in ten years from now if something isn't done in the next few years to figure out how we are going to pay for the maintenance of the roads we have.

A rapt audience listened to an overview of the 2014 budget. .

Budget session Public (1) March 5-2011

Lot of people showed up for the 2011 budget review meeting.

Budget public meeting - empty hall

The 2015 budget review meeting didn’t draw very many people – there was a snow storm – however the arena right next door was packed.

The Telephone Town Hall on the 2018 Proposed Budget will take place on Wednesday, October 18th, between 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. for residents, businesses and community partners.

Participants will learn about and discuss the proposed 2018 budget priorities with Mayor Rick Goldring and senior city staff.

Residents, businesses and community partners will be randomly selected to participate by telephone invitation from the Mayor.  Anyone who does not receive a telephone invitation can call 1-800-537-6616 at 7:30 p.m. on October 18th and listen in to the conversation.

The purpose of the Telephone Town Hall is to discuss the proposed 2018 budget priorities with the Mayor and senior city staff.

In this live, call-in session, residents, organizations and business owners can ask questions about the upcoming budget. There will be an emphasis on:

• Resident satisfaction with value for service
• Increased funding for transit
• Support for city infrastructure renewal funding

There is no mention of any documentation or overview of what the 2018 budget is going to contain which makes it a little difficult for people to comment. It does give those who get invited to take part to rant publicly – which makes one wonder just who is going to get invited. The selection of participants is said to be random – random from what – a list of voters or those who donated to the Mayor’s election campaign or those on his Christmas card list?

The discussion will start shortly after 7:30 pm – those who want to listen in can call in a minute or two early; anyone who is late will be able to join anytime. The system can handle up to 20,000 participants.

Joan Ford, the city's Director of Finance knows where every dollar comes from and where every dollar gets spent.

Joan Ford, the city’s Director of Finance knows where every dollar comes from and where every dollar gets spent.

Joan Ford, Director of Finance adds that: “The budgets are being drafted right now. The feedback we receive from the Town Hall will be put into a report and presented to City Council for their consideration. All questions received during the Town Hall, regardless of whether they were discussed live will be posted online with answers a few days after the event.”

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2 comments to Mayor is looking for a way to communicate with the people who pay the taxes – he’s hoping a Telephone Town Hall will draw an audience.

  • Centerline

    He does a one hour,once a month appearance on the Bill Kelly Show on 900CHML Radio.
    I’ve heard him numerous times over the last couple of years that he’s done this, and he has yet to take a phone call on air, that I’ve heard.
    Maybe nobody calls in.

  • Stephen White

    There are two critical pieces of information that are missing from this budget planning process:

    1) How does Burlington compare on various statistical performance measures compared to comparably sized municipalities? For instance, just focusing on public transit, what is the ridership of Burlington Transit versus other communities? What is the cost of public transportation per household or resident? What % of our budget is spent on public transit versus other municipalities?.

    2) how do our labour costs compare to other comparably sized municipalities? For instance, the last time I checked we had a much larger proportion of firefighters on the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act than did St. Catharines, Oakville, Guelph and Cambridge. Why? Headcount and wages eat up the largest proportion of the budget. Again, how do our wage rates compare with other municipal governments, and how does our sick leave and STD/LTD payments compare?

    When Brampton did the comparisons a few years ago after the 2014 municipal election the results were revealing. It resulted in a major overhaul of services and the structure at City Hall. I would love to see how Burlington compares based on objective criteria.