News from City Hall - Zyg Janecki

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News 2014

Letter to the Editor – The Record – January 22, 2014
Council report card

As someone who has followed politics at Kitchener City Hall for many years, I would like to critique the new, enlarged council’s performance for the past three years.

In my opinion, Carl Zehr is the worst mayor I can remember the city having. He is largely responsible for the massive $112 million debt the city has, with his closed-door decisions. He always promises openness and transparency to get elected; it has yet to happen. He has only one policy: my way of the highway.


Victoria Park washrooms approved, 2 councillors walk out
CBC News Posted: Oct 22, 2013 6:17 AM ET Last Updated: Oct 22, 2013 10:32 AM ET

Kitchener city councillors have approved a $565,000 washroom facility to be built near David Street and Jubilee Drive in Victoria Park. (John Rieti/CBC)
Kitchener city council decided on Monday that washrooms will be built in Victoria Park after all, against the protest of two councillors.

Councillors John Gazzola and Zyg Janecki argued tenders for a set of washrooms near David Street and Jubilee Drive had already been rejected twice.

However, Mayor Carl Zehr insisted the original tender was never actually voted upon.

The two councillors walked out of the council meeting without casting their votes ahead of the eventual approval of the facility.


How one city councillor helped Glasgow Street residents get what they needed from city hall.

In case you are tempted to think that you can’t change things at City Hall, here’s a story about what happened when my friend, Councillor Zyg Janecki intervened recently for Glasgow Street residents:

When Glasgow Street was being upgraded (between Westmount and Knell), City Council planned to add a sidewalk to the north side of the street (in line with their by-law to put sidewalks on both sides of the street as part of any road re-construction project).


Councillors tussle over bid to take part in environmental assessments

Waterloo Region Record
KITCHENER — Coun. Zyg Janecki is crying foul after losing by one vote a bid to bring more openness to the planning for city projects that are now handled in private meetings between staff and consultants.

Cambridge, Waterloo and the region allow councillors to participate in meetings with consulting engineers when environmental assessments are needed for new roads and other projects. In Kitchener, elected officials can only attend if the project is considered very complex. That means they cannot have any influence on setting up environmental assessments for the vast majority of projects.


Budget for 2011

I have heard from numerous residents who have indicated to me for councillors to hold the line and keep taxes low.  Staff has indicated that the average impact in 2010 to the homeowner was $922 which included the SWM (Storm Water Management). In 2011, taxes will increase to $940 and the storm water user fee will be $126 which together adds up to $1,066. These two components result in a true increase of 15.6 percent.   To read more, click here.

I want to hear from you.  Call me, tell me what you think about a 15.6 percent increase in your overall tax bill!

The Budget 2011

The Budget for 2011 is now complete and was approved by a 7-4 vote on March 1st.  I voted against it.  The Budget included a combined increase of taxes and the new Storm Water Management (SWM) user fee of 9.21%.  I was against this huge increase as it was unacceptable in my opinion.  This, in my opinion, unfortuantely appears to biggest combined tax (and SWM) increase in Kitchener's history. 

Staff at the beginning of the Budget process presented a tax increase of 1.94% plus a new Storm Water Management user fee of 6.5%.  The reason the new SWM user fee was excluded from the previous budget was to increase the amount of money needed to address the Victoria Park lake problems and to improve upstream creek problems contributing to the lake.  By excluding it from the Budget and applying a User Fee, it would allow staff be able to have a certain amount of constant money available in future years to address the required work.

It should be noted that the SWM issue was initiated back in 2009 and eventually approved by the previous City Council in June 2010.  The SWM fees would then be implemented in the term of the new Council in February, 2011.  This current Council had nothing to do with bringing in this new User Fee.

The City's website quotes an overall tax increase of 2.54%.  That's because it also includes the assumed consumption of water, sanitary sewer and gas utility rates.  However, the tax component alone is an increase of 3.9%.  Along with the SWM fee increase of 76.31%, the proper increase of taxes when compared to the same package of information in 2010 budget is a true increase of 9.21%.

When comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges, it must be done correctly.  I took a Statistics course in university and we were taught how to take statistics and reshuffle the data, or skew it, massage it and put it in any format that suits to your advantage.  This is what staff have done so cleverly by repackaging the data to make it look like a minimal tax increase.  Staff's presentation is transparent but deceiving.

Example: You have 1000 apples and oranges in a bushel in 2010 of which 950 are apples and 50 are oranges.  You remove the 50 oranges and put them in a new basket for 2011 and also you start with 950 apples in 2011 in the same bushel.  This is a decrease overall of 50 in the bushel.  For 2011 you increase the orange basket by doubling it to be aggressive to address SWM concerns.  You also increase the apples in the bushel by 3.9% from the restated tax figure in 2010.

Furthermore, staff has included as part of the calculations to reach its stated 2.54%, the water, sanitary sewer and gas utility assumption rates of usuage for 2011.  In previous years of presenting budgets, these three rates were never used as a comparison.  Water, sanitary sewer and gas rates are all user fee rates.  You pay for what you use.  Interesting to note that staff did not include the hydro rates which the city also receives a dividend.  These figures weren't finalized yet, however, it appears it will have a more negative impact and were purposely excluded.  

If you use a lot of gas and water, you will pay more for it.  If you don't water your grass in the summer, you will use less water and pay less.  However, with SWM you have no control over how much it rains on your property.  This is clearly a Rain Tax imposed to collect money as a user fee calling it a SWM user fee.

It is my opinion that the SWM component must be placed back in the budget as it's used by all of us.  One can also argue that maybe Fire service should be a user fee.  If the Fire Dept. shows up at your place, you then pay a user fee for a fire call.  Same argument for libraries, for street leaf collection, snow plowing, etc.  This would not be acceptable by the individual users who would have to pay a huge user fee but as a taxpayer would be acceptable.  Same argument for those who don't have children but pay for schools through their taxes.       

I am disappointed in the Budget that was approved this year.  I'm prepared to work harder to try to keep our taxes down to a reasonable rate of increase no greater than the rate of inflation and have our money spent wisely.  Unfortunately, to do this I need the support of other councillors to see it this way.  I appreciate the support from Councillors John Gazzola, Yvonne Fernandes and Scott Davey in voting against the budget.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to let me know.