Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More Taxes? Maybe just in a different format.

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).


John Prince said...

Until we can increase the property tax base in this community by attracting both families and business/industry to this area we will continue to see our leaders taxing us to death in each and every way imaginable. It is inevitable having a disproportionately high senior’s population, along with a declining population base year after year, that increased taxation is here to stay... at least for the short-term. Increased efficiencies will not cut it. At best it is a band-aid solution to an endemic problem that is bleeding us dry.

The only way we can change this trend is to be proactive and visionary in our planning and thinking. I’m hopeful this mayor and council are taking the right steps in addressing a very serious problem that was long in the making, having been allowed to fester and deteriorate over many years by an apathetic and complacent public, despite the best intentions and efforts of many of us (including you Dean) who were on the front lines trying our best to stem the flow of stupid, irresponsible and self-serving actions by those who thought they knew better but who obviously didn’t, resulting in all of us now being left with the bill(s) and consequences of their dastardly deeds.

The bottom line is new revenue streams must be found to deal with our revenue shortfalls, other than continuing to unfairly burden our local hard-pressed taxpayers, while at the same time increasing our population base. The both go hand-in-hand. There is no other way. Build it and they will come, it has been said. Not a difficult concept to understand but a very difficult one to implement here in the `beautiful` Crowsnest Pass it seems.

"In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is stoned to death."

Anonymous said...

Increased efficiencies should and could be achieved. Drive from Bellevue to Coleman any time of the day and count the number of municipal pickups you pass.

If I hear one more time that this municipality needs more employees I will scream.

This is so frustrating high property taxes, utility bills that increase every year and now they are looking at franchise fees.


Anonymous said...

John didn't you Dean and a number of other candidates during the election state that the municipality for years has had a spending problem?

John Prince said...

Anon @ 3:34
In my opinion, wrong-headed priorities (spending) and the draining of the public purse (reserves) while assuming significant debt has all contributed and been at the fore-front of what caused us to land up where we have i.e. between a rock and a hard place. The former mayor and powers that be (persistently working to maintain the status quo) has been the other. We are in desperate need of real leadership capable of making tough decisions based on a collective will and vision. I’m still hopeful this mayor and council can deliver that which is much needed in this community. Having said that, at the same time I believe the public’s patience is wearing thin.

"To get something done, a committee should consist of no more than three men, two of whom are absent."

Anonymous said...

"Facility Needs"
Personally I don't use any of these facilities and I don't know anyone who does. I don't mind my tax dollars going to playing fields, gyms and the pool for kids, but I would like to know how much I am subsidizing expensive recreations for adults. I wonder if the audit will answer this, and if it will be made public.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly why you are not attracting young families here. Two years ago after twenty years in the Pass I left for Elkford. Compare you taxes to Elkford/ Sparwood. Plus you will never be closer to the mines. We are so close to Alberta I can have the advantages of both provinces.
Lower taxes and closer to work in BC, then on my days off we can buy cheap gas, no sales tax, and Walmart in Alberta.
Think about this with Overtime I work 200 days a year by living in Elkford I save 400 hours a year in travel time. Thats 17 days a year, I save $1000 a year on taxes, I save another $2500 a year not running a work car. I know what you are going to say there is nothing in Elkford, you are right. So on my pay week days off we come to Alberta and get everything we need. The recreation center issue my kids go to the pool maybe 10times a year, not a big deal. We really do not care about this, the schools are good the kids like their teachers and are doing well.

I love the Pass and would move back if you could deal with the following two issues.
Convince Teck to provide a work bus from the Pass to the River? Bring taxes in the Pass in line with Elkford, Sparwood?

If these things above do not happen you will see less and less miners moving to the Pass. Why would we thanks to geography we can have the best of both worlds. For those that disagree with me get up at 4:30am on a 30 below morning drive along the icy roads for one and half hours. Then get to work and have somebody from Elkford say "left early this morning because the weather was bad at 6:20"

You can try to attract who ever you want to the Pass but it will not be the miners.


Anonymous said...


Don't waste your time with this stuff. Let these people get what they deserve. Mr Prince is right about one thing there is a disproportionately high seniors population within a declining population base. Lets see how the seniors feel about paying more and more to the municipal coffers so they can "build it and they will come". The only question I have is who are "they"?

DebC said...

Thank God you have seniors here. Last time I noticed, I think they pay taxes like everyone!

I think they need to get a real full time CAO that lives here and has a vested interest in the community.

Anonymous said...

Full time CAO, Director of Public Works. One of the guys here in Bellevue tells me they both work 4 days a week.

We pushed the $100,000 a year miners away from here with the high taxes. Lets keep jacking the cost of living up so we can push out the $30,000 a year seniors lets keep sticking it to them.

Keep spending "they" might be coming but "we" will be leaving.


Anonymous said...


Check out John Princes blog I think you guys are wasting your time doing this stuff.
These people here will buy all crap thats going on right now.
I actually had a person try to convince me the other day that the town could provide a transit system at no additional costs to the taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

Can you tell me the employees of the Town of Pincher Creek are voting on a three year contract, later this week. With raises of 2%,3%,3% what would it cost us in the Pass for the same type of increases?

Crowsnest Pass Home said...

Total wages, salaries for the municipality last year were close to $5,000,000. So 2% next year would be $100,000, and 3% the following years would be an additional $150,000 per year.

So based on that information year 1would require an additional $100,000 in payroll, $250,000 in year 2 and $400,000 in year 3. Assuming that the workforce does not change in the next three years.

Just keep in mind a 1% increase in taxes equates to roughly $65,000.

Anonymous said...

Do you know the salary range for clerical staff? Whenever I have been to the office no one appears to be hustling. Maybe a comparison of staff at other municipalities of the same size is needed.