Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Moving to the right in the US?

Maybe its not just a Canadian direction.
Massachusetts fills the seat formally held by the stalwart of the Democratic Party Ted Kennedy with the Republican Scott Brown in what was described as a major shock.
What effect will this have on Obama as he celebrates his first year in power?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cost of taxes and utilities

Interesting numbers!

Combined cost of taxes and utilities for 16 major Canadian Cities.
Next week I will provide the information to see how the Pass compares.

Average property tax and utility charges for single detached house in 2009:

Surrey: $3,183
Winnipeg: $3,440
Victoria: $3,532
St. John's: $3,532
Medicine Hat: $3,553
Halifax: $3,862
Calgary: $4,111
Regina: $4,143
Vancouver: $4,155
Red Deer: $4,166
Montreal: $4,174
Lethbridge: $4,237
Saskatoon: $4,292
Edmonton: $4,455
London: $4,828
Grande Prairie: $5,139

Source: City Of Edmonton

Are Politics moving to the right in both Alberta and Ottawa?

Are Politics moving to the right in both Alberta and Ottawa?

Last week Ted Morton is given the purse strings in Alberta, clearly a step to deflate the growing support of the the Wildrose party, by appealing to the right wing voters in the province.
This week Stockwell Day is placed in charge of the Federal Treasury, clearly one of Harpers most trusted and right wing lieutenants.
Politically I understand the swing to the right in Alberta, but Ottawa I am having trouble understanding that.
Alberta no matter what the Liberals and NDP's say is a right wing province that is not going to change in the foreseeable future, it will remain either right wing or even more right wing.
Ottawa that's a different story they obviously have more than one province to please, Stockwell Day, right wing Conservative, Harper Loyalist, from Alberta.
How will that play in Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic Provinces, everywhere but the West.
And what does it say about the fiscal direction of both the province and Ottawa.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Garbage and Recycling in the Crowsnest Pass

In the last week I have received a number of emails/calls regarding the bag limit on garbage in the Crowsnest Pass, and the issue of recycling. One person felt there should me no bag limit that there was no correlation between bag limits and recycling. Another person felt that recycling was a complete waste of taxpayers money. (Presently it costs the taxpayers $90,000 a year).
Then a couple more people felt that our bag limit was way too high and it should be lower.
Anyway I have posted a poll regarding the bag limit and would love to hear any feedback on this issue.

Further Information

Pincher Creek 2 bag limit
Sparwood 2 bag limit
Elkford uses clear bins and will not take paper, milk jugs or any other recyclables.

Recycling rate in the Elk Valley approx 20%
Recycling rate in the Crowsnest Pass approx 4%

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New Alberta Cabinet

New cabinet

Deputy premier, Minister of Advanced Education — Doug Horner
(Horner is the newly minted deputy premier, but has held the role of advanced education minister since 2008)
Minister of Finance — Ted Morton (NEW)
Minister of Education, government house leader — Dave Hancock
President of the Treasury Board — Lloyd Snelgrove
Minister of International and Intergovernmental Relations — Iris Evans (NEW)
Minister of Energy — Ron Liepert (NEW)
Minister of Transportation — Luke Ouellette
Minister of Sustainable Resource Development — Mel Knight (NEW)
Minister of Justice — Alison Redford
Minister of Environment — Rob Renner
Minister of Health — Gene Zwozdesky (NEW)
Minister of Children and Youth Services — Yvonne Fritz (NEW)
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development — Jack Hayden (NEW)
Minister of Infrastructure — Ray Danyluk (NEW)
Minister of Seniors and Community Supports — Mary Anne Jablonski
Minister of Culture and Community Spirit — Lindsay Blackett
Minister of Service Alberta — Heather Klimchuk
Minister of Tourism, Parks and Recreation — Cindy Ady
Minister of Municipal Affairs — Hector Goudreau (NEW)
Solicitor General — Frank Oberle (NEW)
Minister of Aboriginal Relations — Len Webber (NEW)
Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs — Jonathan Denis (NEW)
Minister of Employment and Immigration — Thomas Lukaszuk (NEW)

Interesting to see New Minister of Finance Ted Morton what message is Stelmach sending there to the right wing?
Wouldn't the next couple of days be a good time for Boutiller to move over to the Wildrose?

Update from the Crowsnest Pass

I was going to title this update something different but then I was informed, that "your right to know" or "rumors and facts" were already taken.
So I will just stick to the old fashioned bland Update from the Crowsnest Pass.

What's happened since I last posted with good old politics in the Crowsnest Pass?

Just before Christmas we achieved several things:
We completed a budget prior to the end of the year a first since I have been on council.
How did we do this? several ways we directed administration to bring back a budget with no more than a 3% increase, that's the good news.
Then we increased our revenue in the following areas:
Water Rates increase by $3.00 per month per household (last increase 2002)
Garbage Rates increase by $1.50 per month per household (last increase 2007)
Municipal Electrical Rates will increase $12.28 per month between now and July 1, (last increase 2002). This will bring our rates in line with Fortis in the Crowsnest Pass we are in the unusually position of half our tenants are on the municipal system and half are on Fortis.
You may ask why rates have not increased since 2002, that's a good question and to ensure that it does not happen again administration as been directed to bring to Council on a annual basis a review of all municipal charges, fees, and fines.
The other new measure we introduced was a Minimum tax, $500 per tax roll number. There is no question this is a new revenue stream for the Municipality. Several comments based on last years mill rate if your property was worth more than $50,000 you were already paying more than $500. If you own a second property next to your principal property that you only use for your on needs you can consolidate in to the principal property and avoid the minimum tax.
The net result of this budget is that the typically average resident is going to see the lowest tax increase in the last five years. (subject to variations in assessment values).

Just prior to Christmas we also reached a collective agreement with our employees (CUPE), its a two year agreement, which I will not comment further on until our employees have had the chance to ratify it on Jan 21.

Crowsnest Centre, yes the saga continues. Despite the society taking the position that they did not need municipal tax dollars for 2009, we the taxpayers did have to pay their Nexen and telus bills in December. And yes the municipality did pay those bills out of reserve dollars that were generated by an insurance payout on the old centre budget.
Where I get confused is that some people think that those Insurance dollars belonged to the centre. The last I checked the Centre is an asset owned by the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass (taxpayers) just like the arenas, the equipment we own and any other assets. Which pot the money goes into and where it is spent is a decision made by the "elected" representatives of the taxpayers, not some unelected board that we never have to face an election.

Newspaper advertising, finally after arguing this issue for 5 years council agreed to tender this out to the lowest bidder. Our advertising cost for 2009 will be somewhere around $30-35,000 previous years as high as $110,000 that's a savings of roughly $70,000 a year over the five years that I have raised this issue a potential savings of $350,000 that could have purchase four additional used graders. Without costing the taxpayer one extra dollar.
Arguments were made that one papers page was larger than the other, I don't care, as long as the information can be read does it matter if the words are larger in one paper than the other? It was a simple decision in May and again in December, which paper had the lowest cost per page. That is the way I will always vote on this issue. The other argument that was made was that tax dollars are going out of town. Does that mean we should spend higher taxpayer dollars to give a contract to a local contractor?
That will work well when we are handing out $5,000,000 Infrastructure contracts.

Off site levies, it came to my attention just before the holidays that a local resident, who had been living in a older single wide trailer for years had purchased a new modular home put it on the same lot, and was told that he was going to be charged off site levies. My impression of off site levies, were that they would be charged against new developments where somebody was taking a bare piece of land and adding burden to the municipalities infrastructure, or if you were taking a piece of land that had one residence on it and replacing it with a duplex, apartment building etc, where once again the burden on municipal infrastructure was being increased. Fortunately after a debate amongst council it was agreed that the bylaw would be rewritten to ensure this does not happen again.

Going back to Budget, even though council as passed the budget the process is not completely over at this point. We have to wait for the province to set the educational levy so we can set the mill rate. In between I am hoping that council will keep working to cut costs and increase the surplus, we have a problem that is not going to go away.
Our reserves will be down to $670,000 by the end of the year, we are spending $520,000 this year out of reserves to complete capital projects. What happens after 2011 when our reserves run out. We need to start putting dollars back into those reserves this year.

Anyway a little update on things in the Crowsnest Pass

Monday, January 4, 2010

Stelmach in trouble.

Is this the beginning of the end for steady Eddie?
Will more MLA's defect?
Who's next?
Guy Boutillier?
Should MLA's be allowed to switch parties?
What happens next?
Will the Wildrose party win the next election?

Interesting articles:
Stelmach calls for unity after Tory defections

Boutilier mum on plans for his political future

More defections may be in the wings