County Slams City-Backed Regional Landfill Budget

The council for the County of Essex discusses the proposed 2017 budget for the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority at its regular meeting on December 7, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

The proposed 2017 budget to manage landfill and waste services in Windsor-Essex — backed by the city — took a beating at the hands of county councillors on Wednesday night.

The county unanimously rejected the budget, which includes the 0% increase the city wanted instead of the 4.1% increase recommended by Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority administration.

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara is seen at the regular council meeting for the County of Essex where the proposed 2017 budget for the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority is discussed on December 7, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara is seen at the regular council meeting for the County of Essex where the proposed 2017 budget for the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority is discussed on December 7, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara slammed the city directive that saw the budget take from a surprise surplus to eliminate a rate increase this year.

“This is a disservice to the taxpayers of our community in the future,” says McNamara. “We’re just mortgaging the future to make ourselves look good, in my opinion, today.”

McNamara called the adherence to “zero” when it comes to landfill services “ludicrous” and implored his colleagues to vote against the proposal.

“It’s foolish for anybody around this table to think you’re going to be able to accomplish everything by the skin of your teeth. It makes no sense to me at all,” says McNamara. “At some point in time we’re going to pay the price for avoiding what is important today.”

LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya says this budget just kicks the can down the road.

LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya is seen at the regular council meeting for the County of Essex where the proposed 2017 budget for the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority is discussed on December 7, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya is seen at the regular council meeting for the County of Essex where the proposed 2017 budget for the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority is discussed on December 7, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

“By not paying the bill today, we’re not eliminating it — we’re delaying it. The next generation and the generation after that is going to have to pay for it,” says Antaya.

The budget was repeatedly framed as “short-sighted” by many of the county mayors and deputy mayors who sit around the council table.

“We not only governing for today, but we’re supposed to be governing beyond,” says Antaya. “We’re supposed to have the foresight to take a look at what’s good for the region and this recommendation is not.”

The 2017 budget proposal also included a 0% increase in the 2018 budget.

Perhaps the sharpest criticism came from Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos in his comments.

“To me it’s just being politically expedient. It has nothing to do with operating a service for the residents and certainly for the region,” says Santos. “It’s something that takes away I think from not just the respect, but the expectation from the [EWSWA] that they’re running an efficient and effective business.”

As he did when the budget was first discussed by EWSWA board members in early November, authority general manager Eli Maodus stressed “the less of an increase today … the more that has to be paid later” — adding the $13-million rate stabilization reserve would be exhausted in five to six years without rate increases.

Eli Maodus (left), general manager of the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority, attends the regular meeting of the council for the County of Essex on December 7, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Eli Maodus (left), general manager of the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority, attends the regular meeting of the council for the County of Essex on December 7, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

The recommended rate increase of 4.1% would have seen the city and county municipalities have to come up with another $435,050 compared to their 2016 contributions.

The budget will now have to go to a joint administrative committee consisting of the top executives of the City of Windsor, the County of Essex and the EWSWA.