Municipal lingo Cheatsheet - 2010 updates

I am working on my presentation that I am planning to present to Ajax Council.  I had an email from someone who was not up on the issue and it was commented that some citizen readers were getting confused with “all the acronyms” and I realised I was guilty of this.It happens in work worlds also certain departments deal with certain types of work and the language used and terms are not necessarily common to other departments.

I will be more careful to not slip into terms that only people in the municipalworld or participants in the issues are familiar with.

This is a list of explanations of recent examples that I may have been guilty of. I do however provide links to agencies that I refer to in letters only.

Municipal Lingo Cheat sheet - Study it because unlike what others tell you , maybe there WILL be a pop quiz.

1) AMO - Association of Municipalities of Ontario. Link is in right panel.

This group is governed by politicians from across Ontario, Roger Anderson is the Past President. They are a friend to municipalities and lobby the Provincial government– (though not that hard sometimes.) for policy and money, I mean “investment” Toronto is not in this group any more. They out grew it. Link is on right panel.

2) LAS- Local Authority Services.

This company is part of the AMO it is used to offer programs and group purchasing power and good auto insurance plans to municipal employees and councillors. Their web-page is on the AMO site because without the AMO there is no LAS. The board of LAS has people from the AMO on it.LAS also hires a company that was specifically created to be closed meeting investigators. see #3.

3) Amberley Gavel Ltd.

Amberley Gavel Ltd is owned and operated by Nigel Bellchamber who is currently the General Manager of the Ontario Municipal Administrators Association 2007- 2008. The executive is made up of CAO’s- Chief Administrative Officers of Municipalities across Ontario. The other owner is Fred Dean, a Lawyer that currently has a practice called citysolicitor (Lawyer hired by Cities to work for them) The website of the Ontario Municipal Administrators Assoc. is on the AMO website- see #1. Link is on right panel. Both Nigel and Fred are listed on the Review Officers Panel. Both have worked in the municipal field for years and no doubt have professional relationships with practically every major municipality in Ontario.

4) CAO best way to describe this role is, Permanent Mayor, Towns and Cities are entities with staff and have to be run — the CAO runs them and Councils “oversee” them and give direction to them on how the towns want to do things.“The CAO is responsible to ensure that innovative programs and services are developed and implemented to meet the ever changing needs of the community, while ensuring fiscal responsibility.” From Ajax site. fiscal responsibility usually means when we want something done, there is no money , when they want something done it is from development charges and for that project specifically.

5) Fee : Opposite of Free , a set amount of dollars to obtain a service, the higher the fee the less they want your business even if they give you back some after.

6) Free: Opposite of Fee, open and accessible to all no matter how much money you have.

One example of a service for “free” is the Office of the Ontario Ombudsman, I kept spelling it with an “e” for some reason but I am working on this repeating error. You can go to this office for a variety of complaints on agencies.The office of the Ontario Ombudsmen will conduct investigations for citizens free to be accessible to all. They will not charge a town or city that uses them a fee to conduct a closed meeting investigation unlike points #2 and #3.This model kind of fits with the goal of the CAO don’t you think? Services for free to the town, how much more fiscally responsible can you get??????

7) OMB - Ontario Municipal Board,

An example of an agency that utilizes #5. $125.00 for a citizen to appeal a decision made by them. No frivolous complaints with them no-sir-ee only developers that have temper tantrums need apply. Ontario Municipal Board deals with Planning Issues and Land Use.

That’s it —for now.


Service Levels: To maintain service levels actually means– pay more salary to the top Managers for the same level of output. Silly me to think service levels actually meant service!


Sign:  A piece of plastic or wood that is defaced in the last period of an election by those the most afraid.  

The person who’s signs are damaged the most may be the winner.

Re-elect:  A term that can be used by a person running for the exact same seat at the same council.  If it is a seat that someone else’s butt was in the last term, you are not running for re-election even if it is the same council.

Return:  If your butt was in a chair but there has been a 4 year gap, you may use the word Return , to any seat that your butt wants.

Elect:  If your butt has never occupied a chair at the Council table at all,  or your butt has never occupied that exact chair at council,  your term must be Elect.

Gravy Train:  Would that be poutine in Quebec? :)