When the Board of Directors (BOD) of the Flamborough Chamber of Commerce (FCC) met in its most recent retreat, it formally adopted as a priority calling on Hamilton Council to place a greater focus on creating municipal efficiencies that would result in reduced costs.

A review by the FCC indicates between 2001 and 2015, property taxes in the ‘new’ City of Hamilton went up by 72.6 percent. Further research indicated that total expenditures went up 75.5 percent; total salaries and wages increased by 111.8 percent; user fees shot up by 123.8 percent while revenues from licenses, permits and rent skyrocketed by 159.8 percent!

To be sure, one has to factor in inflation (+31.6 percent) and population growth (+21.4 percent) in analyzing the above figures. And to his credit, City Manager Chris Murray has agreed to meet with the FCC to address the issue of improving municipal efficiencies.

Starting in 2018, the FCC – as the ‘Voice of Business’ in Flamborough – will place increased emphasis on municipal efficiencies, financial transparency and political accountability (2018 will see a municipal election on October 22 complete with a community all-candidates debate hosted by the FCC).

On behalf of FCC members, recently-retired Executive Director Arend Kersten will – as the newly-minted Director, Policy & Advocacy – focus on “news and views” from Hamilton city hall. Just like the Canadian (CCC) and Ontario (OCC) Chambers of Commerce at the federal and provincial levels, local chambers of commerce/boards of trade are uniquely positioned to monitor, report and respond to decisions by local/regional councils that may impact businesses.

Working collaboratively with newly-appointed FCC Executive Director Matteo Patricelli, Arend will review committee and council agendas every week, attend meetings as necessary and – as an exclusive benefit to FCC members – share his observations and analysis in a regular ‘Inside City Hall’ newsletter.

Frankly, most business owners are swamped with the day to day challenges of surviving in an increasingly difficult regulatory and competitive environment. They don’t have the time (or inclination) to spend hours and hours at Hamilton city hall to address yet another potential new challenge. That’s where the FCC comes in!

Stay tuned.