Now taxpayers of the Crowsnest Pass is the time to speak up.
It’s a very simple process. Speak and you may be heard, say nothing and you definitely will not.
Right now as you are reading this post, administration is gathering information from its various departments, from the various groups that are subsidized by your tax dollars.
Administration is taking that information to prepare a three year budget, that’s right a three year budget another change. We could debate all day long the merits of longer term budgeting, but in my opinion the greater concern with a budget of that length is the opportunity for input is taken away.
The one the most important area that politicians try to avoid input from is you the taxpayers, there is nothing more politicians love than “Silence” they will tell you different, they may well offer you opportunities such as open houses, surveys, etc. Deep down what they really long for is “Silence”. Especially with a three year budget, get through this process there will be eighteen months to the next election, by then everybody will have settled down and they won’t have to worry about this issue one year into the next term.
One of the advantages of an annual budget is that by the time the last one is passed by a council, the bills are received by the taxpayers its only four months to the next election. The whole process is fresh on the mind of taxpayers, the issues, the debates, the justifications for councils actions, politicians don’t want you to have a fresh recollections of that process.
This is a small community in my six years I watched councilors flip flop on issues because special interest groups put pressure on them. The most important group of all needs to speak up you the taxpayers.
How do you do that? these members of council live in this community most people know them, tell them how you feel, call them their phone numbers are available at the municipal office 403-562- 8833. Write letters to the editor, vote on surveys right now the Pass Herald is asking for opinions on the Franchise fee increases. http://www.passherald.ca/
Why the fear now? Just last week Council approved increases in Franchise Fees during that debate the acting CAO referred to a need to bring in an additional $550,000 next year (the equivalent of an 8% tax increase) to satisfy the goals and objectives of councils strategic plan.
I understand many people in this community are desperate for change. The strategic plan is going to be the tool used to drive the need for additional taxes. What ever became of doing more by becoming more efficient? On October 13,2010 Councilor Saindon stated the following “My many years of experience in operations within large corporations reveals to me that we have a huge opportunity to take these cost reductions and use them to keep our tax increases at or near 0%”.
The Crowsnest Pass according to the 2006 census is the oldest community in the province our average age is almost 50, we have the largest percentage of seniors living on a fixed income in the province. Who can afford an 8% increase?
If this or any other council wishes to get creative and do new and wonderful things then they need to get creative and find ways to do more with the same, find those cost reductions Councilor Saindon referred to.
This issue makes me think about Councilor Gallants vision, his platform I quote “As a councilor, I will not vote for any increase to property taxes for any reason - period! It is time to take a hard look at the services we have and the way business is conducted by the municipality. We must set realistic boundaries and be firm about not crossing them. There is money out there, we just have to stop wasting what we have and start tapping into sources we have ignored. As a businessman, I believe very strongly in efficiency. When I discover that my business is doing something that is unnecessarily costing us money, I do not wait a year or two to start investigating it - I put the people or plans in place to solve it right away. The municipal council needs to have that same commitment and drive; it is our duty to the taxpayers of our town. Once we have learned to be more diligent, we should then go further and reduce our property taxes”
Only one year later administration is talking about tax increases? contact your councilors remind them what they said a year ago. Tell them how you really feel about tax increases remind them that their first budget we were going to see zero increases and it really ended up being 2%.
Speak up now let the members of council hear where you sit before they pass a three year budget not after. Take a moment read the list down the right hand side and decide is this the change you are willing to pay more and more for. Pick a cost reduction that as saved the municipality one dollar from that list.
Is the last sentence of Councilor Gallant's quote in the Strategic Plan “Once we have learned to be more diligent, we should then go further and reduce our property taxes”
I and a lot of other people in the Pass sure hope so.
Remember more than anything “Silence” will cost you.