The following is Clr. Merulla's response, which is posted verbatim:
I believe there are workable solutions available that will enhance governing based on our needs rather than wants. I would like to see our City of Hamilton attract and retain business in a sustainable manner.
We need to continue to find a balance between greenfield and brownfield developments in an attempt to provide a diverse environment of opportunity through employment lands.
The most significant motivation in my seeking office has always been my desire to help anyone who needs it. I have been in public service for twenty years from working with people with disabilities to substance
abusers and troubled youth to serving the great people of Hamilton East, Ward 4, and as a whole, the City of Hamilton and there is no better feeling then advocating change and seeing it legislated.
My focus has been and will continue to be eliminating the two billion dollar deficit in hard infrastructure (i.e. Woodward Wastewater Treatment Plant, roads, sewers and bridges). Continue to pursue successful redevelopment of East end neighbourhoods through infill/brownfield developments (i.e. Lowe's at Barton and Woodward, Princess Auto on Barton, Seniors Centre at Main and Cope, Greyfield developments on Ottawa St and Kenilworth, Barton, King and Main Streets) the future mixed use development at City Motor Holel site.
Furthermore we need to be focused in continuing to create a climate of investment such as Ward 4's The Centre on Barton, Crown Point Medical Arts building on Kenilworth, redevelopment of the old Derby Tavern to Rexall Pharmacy and the future Native Cultural Centre on Kenilworth. Lastly, I am very proud of the future park development at Rennie/Brampton Streets (Rennie St. End Use) and the creation of a new pedestrian/cycling bridge which will allow Ward 4 residents to safely connect to the city's waterfront.
City Council must focus on emerging problems (i.e. the need to increase industrial and commercial investments; thereby, increasing tax revenues without impacting residential taxes or front line services). We must be far more aggressive in uploading the tens of millions of dollars that the Province of Ontario downloaded to the City of Hamilton in terms of mandated programs and services without the necessary funding which deems it NOT revenue neutral and has cost the municipal tax payer in Hamilton well over 1 billion dollars over the past decade or just under $146 million dollars, which impacts our operating budget.
The successful conclusion to the downloading crisis will allow council to function in a manner conducive to focusing in our needs and actually put the city in a position to assess a tax decrease of nearly 25 percent. We must determine who does what and who pays for what in our relationship with Ontario. We must do this in consultation AMO and FCM thereby renegotiating our agreements with Ontario to ensure a progressive form of taxation at the municipal level rather than the regressive nature that exists presently.
Moreover Hamilton has lost too many manufacturing jobs as a direct result of globalization. We are attracting employment but more must be done to aggressively and proactively promote Hamilton as a leader in providing opportunity which is the answer to the poverty issues and infrastructure redevelopment. The Red Hill Valley Parkway and airport employment lands will be instrumental in the growth and repair of this great city of ours in the future. We need to continue to find ways to balance greenfield and brownfield developments in an attempt to provide a diverse environment of opportunity.
The bottom line is we need to focus on our basic needs of creating opportunity in employment, dealing with our infrastructure needs, increasing our assessment growth and simply governing on needs rather than pie in the sky initiatives that distract us from our needed back to basics governance model. A city that provides opportunity to parents becomes the best place to raise a child.
Councillor Sam Merulla,
City of Hamilton.
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