Mayor open to ideas to maintain campaign promise
Facing criticism from council and a five-per-cent tax hike, Mayor Larry O’Brien is expected to propose some concrete cost-saving measures within the next two weeks.
Coun. Rick Chiarelli said he met with the mayor earlier this week to discuss ways to reduce the operating and capital budgets. While he was not specific on the recommendations, the former chair of the long-range financial plan committee said O’Brien was receptive and suggested council could still move toward fiscal responsibility.
“These proposals could result in buy-in from council,” Chiarelli said.
O’Brien has been criticized by many councillors for maintaining his tax-freeze position without providing substantial details as to how he would accomplish the goal. Chiarelli said the mayor is now open to suggestions and would likely table proposals at the next council meeting on Sept. 12.
Coun. Jan Harder has been outspoken the last two days because she doesn’t think O’Brien is providing the leadership required of a mayor. She has accused O’Brien of not sharing ideas and directing council, rather than working together.
The result, she said, is council has not accomplished anything in the first 10 months of its term.
“He has the ability to be one of Ottawa’s best mayors,” Harder said. “But he has to bring this council together.”
Most councillors are not convinced the mayor can lower the five-per-cent tax hike without making significant cuts to services. Coun. Diane Holmes said the mayor boxed himself in with his tax-freeze promise and is now letting his ego and pride get in the way of moving forward.
“I’ll be surprised if we can reduce (the increase),” she said.