Last week at the council meeting there was a motion made by Councilor Saje to approve a recommendation from administration to conduct a Facility Audit/Needs Assessment at a cost of up to $90,000.
The motion was passed by a vote of 5-2, (councilors Mitchell and Londsbury opposed). No question this process needs to take place some of our building are in bad shape, there were questions raised by various councilors regarding facilities that were not on the original list, fire halls, seniors facilities etc. To my surprise knowing the positions that some of the councilors previously took nobody raised the Crowsnest Centre.
The big question in my mind is how was this going to be paid for? Administration is recommending that the dollars be taken out of the MSI funding that the municipality receives every year from the provincial government. This is a reasonable approach except it now creates a hole somewhere else. That money has been received by the municipality for quite a few years it’s always been spent, now some where down the line there will be a $90,000 shortfall.
But the optimistic side of my brain says that’s no problem there will surely be saved $90,000 some where in the operation by finding more efficiency improvements that were so often spoke about in the last year this hope did not last long.
Last night I attended the G+P meeting to my surprise during a discussion about organizational responses to public correspondence/calls. The acting CAO made the comment that administration could well be looking at 1-2 more clerical positions for the office. Obviously, no improved efficiency savings in that part of the operation, keep in mind that every person added to the municipality adds another $50-60 thousand per year.
Going back to my original comment where are they going to find additional revenues.
To very little surprise item #5 under topics for discussion is Franchise fees, what has become a great revenue generator for municipalities over the years and allows politicians the opportunity to claim they did not raise your property taxes, very similar to municipal water/sewer/garbage bills.
Right now on your utility bills you will see a line item marked Municipal Franchise fee between the various companies it brings in $360,000 a year, council will be reviewing these rates in the very near future.
On behalf of the over taxed residents of this community I surely hope that all these studies, audits, task forces are going to be paid for by dollars saved in improved efficiencies not by increases in taxes (property, utilities, franchise fees, user fees etc).