Council candidate Todd Taylor to bring professionalism to Town Hall

September 14, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Pickford

Having spent the best part of 15 years building up his community portfolio, Todd Taylor wants to bring a sense of pride and professionalism back to town hall.

Since moving to the area with his family  in 2002, Mr. Taylor has placed a heavy emphasis on serving his community. A long-time member of the Orangeville Optimist Club and Mono Nordic Ski Club, Todd also has extensive public service experience, serving on numerous municipal committees, including as chair of the library board, chair of the first mayor’s remuneration committee and as a member of the transportation committee and snow clearing committee. Mr. Taylor is also a former contributor to the Citizen, writing a popular bi-weekly community column for your local newspaper.

Now, as a candidate for one of the five seats as an Orangeville councillor, he’s hoping to take everything he’s learned from his career as a senior manager in a prominent CPG company and as an enthusiastic community volunteer to help shape Orangeville’s future, not just over the next four-year term, but far, far beyond.

“When I go through my platform, there’s a whole litany of issues I’d like to tackle. When I first sat down with my campaign team, I identified 17 different items I feel we need to talk about. If we were to look at 1a, 1b and 1c, you’re talking taxes, spending and professionalism at town hall,” Mr. Taylor said.

Discussing spending, Todd looked directly at depreciating assets, such as Orangeville’s railway line and portions of Tony Rose arena, as areas that require immediate attention. He also touched on the community’s policing issue, expressing his belief that that debate will be brought back before council next term. While he has his opinions about certain things, Todd refused to make any promises or take a definitive stance one way or another, stating he would need to see “all the facts” before making a decision for the community.

In an ideal world, he says, he’d like to see the Town’s railway line decommissioned and turned into a rail trail, noting “There’s minimal people using the railroad and it just is not a viable option for us to continue with.”

Moving onto policing, while Todd recognizes the fine job current chief Wayne Kalinski has done in stabilizing the force in recent years, he would like to find out, once and for all, how lucrative a contract with the OPP could be. It was reported during last year’s costing proposal that the Town could save up to $4.3 million per year by shutting down its local police force in favour of the provincial service model.

“We know this issue is going to come back up. What I’ll be saying to everyone when it does is I will not be voting under the circumstances that we have right now. I will be suggesting we hire an independent outside consultant to come in, at a cost to the Town, and complete a thorough examination so that, at the end of the day, we have irrefutable numbers to work off of,” Mr. Taylor said. “If, when it came down to it, we heard of potential savings of $4 million, then we’re at a critical juncture where decisions will need to be made. But I need the facts before coming to any decision on something this important, because we can’t go back once a decision has been made.”

Having managed multi-million dollar portfolios throughout his professional career, Mr. Taylor says he knows his way around a financial statement. Having studied the Town’s next five budgets, Todd says he’s unhappy with the direction the municipality is seemingly going in.

In 2018, the municipality required $34 million from the tax levy to cover its costs for the year. That number is expected to jump to $41 million by 2022 – a whopping 20 percent increase.

“The main reason for this jump, is, under the current five-year plan, the Town is increasing its capital budget by one percent each year, it’s increasing contributions to its reserves by one percent each year and it’s increasing staff salaries by two percent each year,” Mr. Taylor said. “We, as a town, cannot afford that level of spending right now. I believe we’re putting too much money aside right now for capital expenses and I’m absolutely not in favour of putting an additional one percent aside for reserves each year.”

He added, “If you look at our budget, you’ll see the bulk of what we spend our money on is salaries for town staff. Our staff is amazing, I know a lot of them, but at the same time we’re going to have to look into that.”

Although he has met with Orangeville Fire Chief Ron Morden and taken in a tour of the department’s facility on Dawson Road, he’s unsure whether the Town should fund a new fire hall, currently slated as an $8 million expenditure in 2020. “It might be too early. If I get on council and see in 2020 that we, as a community, cannot afford this, then I won’t support it. I absolutely recognize that we need a new fire hall, but we will fix that situation when we can afford to fix it. It might take some forward thinking and forward planning.”

Mr. Taylor’s number one priority, though, centres around professionalism. After witnessing what can only be described as a chaotic term of council over the past four years, he says it’s imperative that this next council work well together. That will be the case even if he has to work with current mayor Jeremy Williams, who Mr. Taylor readily admits he has butted heads with on numerous occasions in the past.

“A lot of people give that patented answer that they will work with anyone, but I truly mean that when I say it, and I know Jeremy Williams believes that too. We sat on a transportation committee together and we worked well together to get things done. I think he would say I was supportive of him and he was certainly supportive of me,” Mr. Taylor said. “Yes, I have been critical of him in the past, but in a council environment, we both want what is best for the town and will work hard with that in view.”

He added, “I think everyone knows things aren’t going to work next term unless the next council works together in a positive way. People need to know Orangeville is a professional place, a place that can be trusted, a place you want to invest in.”

“As for me personally, I think people should look into my background and see what I’ve done in the past. I have a long list of volunteering and showing an element of care in our community. The best way to judge what someone is going to do in the future is looking at what they’ve done in the past. I would ask that people look at me and feel comfortable and confident they’re electing someone who is professional, who will work hard to make this town a great place,” Mr. Taylor concluded.

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