Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The price of silence.

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.


Anonymous said...

If you have money in your bank account earning 1% interest, it doesn't make sense to borrow money at 5%. We have money in our reserve fund, hopefully earning interest, but instead of using that, they have gone out and borrowed money. I'll bet doughnuts to dollars we are paying higher interest on the loan than we are getting on our reserve fund. Not much chance of finding out what these interest rares are, though - it's none of our business.

Anonymous said...

Dean this town is screwed you know what will come out of all these studies at the end of the day?
A large pile of paper, two years from now all these small town politicians will talk about how the direction of the municipality has been changed and the journey as begun. What they will not tell you is its about 200km long and they are at the 1km mark.

Anonymous said...

Well Council of the Crowsnest Pass you just made my decision much simpler. It was down to a choice between Blairmore and Sparwood. The increases they are talking about now are bad enough. What bothers me more than anything is this council spoke about getting its fiscal house in order. Well from this course of action its obvious that is not going to happen.

Do not give me the crap about all the advantages of living in Alberta I am 25 mins away. Plus I go to Lethbridge every week to visit my parents so how much BC gas do you think I will buy.

Anonymous said...

I love Gallant's last comment.

Once we have learned to be more diligent, we should then go further and reduce our property taxes

I am a younger resident (58) will this happen in my life time?

Anonymous said...

You only get "Silence" because nobody is listening.

Anonymous said...

Just get going on the indoor recreation center/swimming pool. I don't care what it costs.

Anonymous said...

I have said it before you guys are a bunch of whinners down there in the Pass. What's a few more dollars a month.

Anonymous said...

I know its not on topic but I'm was a little surprised to read that Decoux wants to see a different attitude in the municipal office. I did not know there was a problem.

Anonymous said...

Do you really think these experienced businessmen, with the wealth of knowledge they have. Would be foolish enough to raise taxes 8% I do not think so. They will find that extra $500,000 that is presently being wasted. They will put it to a good cause, turning this community into all it can be.


Anonymous said...

I love this place we have a council and administration that are increasing our utility rates plus talking about increasing taxes 8%. Yet they are going to spend $100,000 on advertisng municipal information in what Mayor Decoux states is an "antiquated form of communication".

Check out todays Promoter:

"In this day and age, perhaps an MGA that was requiring municipalities to advertise, at tremendous cost, in an antiquated form of communication…"

Interesting to see Councillor Mitchell comes to the papers rescue!


Anonymous said...

Interesting to see this come up at all. Dean, please help me out here;

-Did they not insist that advertising in both papers was “very critical” then immediately overrule a policy and spend EXTRA tax dollars by advertising in BOTH papers?

- Now, they claim advertising in newspapers is a “tremendous cost, in an antiquated form of communication?" and that it is required of them?

-All this, right after the mayor proclaims, at some public gathering that what the media has published is only an interpretation of the real deal at council meetings??

-Is it just me or does this sound like a message to our media? -- Do as I say, or I’ll shut you down?
-Do you know what the media published that they did not like?

Anonymous said...

Interesting comment 1:59
I was at that chamber meeting the Mayor sent a very clear message to the media.

Anonymous said...

Well I can't wait to see what the papers say about this Firemen issue especially so soon after the Mayor sent them such a clear message.

What's the old saying about not biting the hand that feeds you!

Anonymous said...

The Fire Chiefs are being interviewed for next weeks paper. Keep in mind that the four of them will be fighting for the two district jobs. If the Mayor is picking I'm sure they will be very careful with their words.