15 years later, Garisto seeking second term as deputy mayor

August 16, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Pickford

After getting a taste for the role of deputy mayor from 2000 to 2003, local businessman and current councillor Nick Garisto is once again making a play for the Town’s second most important elected position.

It will be a term of transition for the town, with long-time deputy mayor Warren Maycock having recently announced his retirement from municipal politics. Mr. Maycock spent 20 years serving the community on council, the past 12 as deputy mayor. With four terms of council under his own belt at town hall, the first beginning in 1994, Mr. Garisto feels he has the necessary experience to take on such a demanding position.

“I have done this job before. I know what it takes to be an effective deputy mayor,” Mr. Garisto told the Citizen. “I have a lot of ideas and things that I want to accomplish, some of them can only be done by having a voice at county council. That’s why I’m running for deputy mayor.”

Top of Mr. Garisto’s list is lobbying, at the county level, for more affordable housing for seniors. He also wants to do what he can to bring more long-term care facilities to Dufferin County.

“It is my understanding that, right now, residents have to wait anywhere from five to 10 years before being able to get into a long-term care facility. That’s too long,” Mr. Garisto said. “By me being at the county council table, I would have an opportunity to address these issues. I’d like to work with the provincial and federal governments to bring more affordable housing and long-term care facilities to Dufferin County, for the benefit of our Orangeville residents.”

As he discussed his platform, Mr. Garisto quickly got around to the issue of taxation in Orangeville. Considered to be something of a tax crusader for local residents, he said he would continue to do what he could to ensure the municipality toes the line when it comes to residential tax increases.

He was unhappy with what he described as an “unreasonable” 4.6 percent increase in 2018, a move that was necessary after council approved the hiring of eight new full-time firefighters, at a cost of $800,000 this year, to cover the night shift in town. Still, looking back on budget time, Mr. Garisto says he put several motions on the table that would have enabled council to pass a zero percent increase in the town’s share of this year’s taxes.

“I have always fought for lower taxes, even during my time as chair of the town’s finance committee. I brought forward many ideas to lower the taxation. In fact, I had a motion in front of me that would have cut the budget by $855,000 which, if the majority of council had bought in, would have meant no increase for residents.”

The projects Mr. Garisto feels the town could have held off on include the renovations to council chambers and money for local library upgrades.

Despite being so mindful of taxpayers’ money, Mr. Garisto voted against dissolving the Orangeville Police Service last year, a move that would have seen policing service provided by the OPP. During that debate it was said the town could save up to $4.6 million per year by making the switch. In the end, Mr. Garisto wasn’t convinced by the “estimates” put forward.

“The police issue was big, and I’ve caught a lot of flak for my decision to vote no for OPP. That was probably the major decision I had to make this term, but I believe, under the circumstances, the numbers given were not fully accurate. They were estimates. On an important issue like this, you cannot vote on an estimate, you need to have concrete facts,” Mr. Garisto said. “If I had concrete facts in front of me, I probably would have supported it, but I didn’t see any concrete facts.”

He didn’t like the fact that the OPP would charge the town based on its new ‘user-pay’ system, whereby it charges municipalities based on the number of calls responded to throughout the year. He said he would not be in favour of reopening the debate under the scope of a new council, saying he would particularly be against hiring any outside consultant, as other candidates have suggested, to come in, look at the numbers and provide a recommendation.

“That would come at an incredible cost. If someone can tell me that they can make a solid estimate based on the OPP’s ‘user-pay’ system, I don’t believe it. I very much doubt someone can tell us exactly what is going to happen a year in advance and give us an accurate estimate of how much we will be billed,” Mr. Garisto said.

His health has also been called into question, after he missed several months of meetings between 2016 and 2017. Mr. Garisto told the Citizen he has been given a clean bill of health by his doctor and that the condition he was dealing with, which caused his hand to shake, “was not serious at all”. He reassured residents he was at 150 percent health-wise.

During this most recent term, Mr. Garisto has sat on the economic development committee, the Orangeville Business Improve Area (OBIA) board, the Island Lake management committee, the property standards committee and the transit committee. He was also chair of the now defunct finance committee.

Running on the slogan of “stand by the people”, Nick says he will continue to support existing businesses in Orangeville and would do what he could to attract new business to town. An Orangeville barbershop owner for 47 years and resident for more than three decades, he says he knows the community “inside and out” and, if elected come Oct. 22, would do his part guide town forwards over the next four years.

“I have the qualifications to do the job. I’ve done it in the past and will continue to do it in the future to the best of my abilities,” Mr. Garisto concluded.

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