Well the turkey was gobbled down and the fireworks were set off now its time to see what 2012 will bring for us the good residents of the Crowsnest Pass. Weather you live in Crowsnest Pass East or Crowsnest PassWest I am sure one or more of the following will be of interest to every one of you.
Strategic plan: The fanfare will continue there will be lots of talk, more studies, great plans, procedures and policies will continue to be created, reviewed and rewritten. Tangible changes that actually affect the lives of the residents in positive timely ways we will see.
2011 census: First results are expected to be out in February last census our community saw the largest decline in population in the province (percentage wise 8% +) and we became the oldest average aged community. Will all the hiring at the mines over the last couple of years change that?
2012 Cupe collective bargaining, there will ultimately be an agreement between the two parties. How will the process play out, some people ran for office based on finding the “efficiencies” this is their opportunity. Efficiencies in collective bargaining usually involve somebody giving something up. Will that happen? John Irwin used to always brag about the last time CUPE walked out, it did not snow for the next two months. We have had an awful pleasant winter so far.
Municipal Financial Audit: It is like a report card for Council and Administration usually comes in around April, I anticipate based on the numbers so far that the municipality will show a slight surplus for last year. Watch the revenue side of the audit it will probably be $2-300,000 higher than anticipated a great way to make one’s self look good.
It will also be very interesting to see what the outstanding taxes are in the audit at the end of the year after everybody had the fear of 51% penalties waved in their face for the last two months.
Three-year budget: Council is working on having a budget in place for the end of March. Areas I and I am sure many other taxpayers will be watching. Tax increases (lets not forget some councilors ran on the position of no tax increases), plus lets watch for the old fashioned tax increases that we don’t call tax increases; franchise fees, user fees, new revenue sources, (water meters, etc). Will council continue down the path of increasing the number of staff, while not replenishing the municipal reserves in addition to increasing the municipal debt load 2012 will tell?
Crowsnest Centre property plan: I’m sure in the not to distant future there will be presented to council a consultant’s report that will surprisingly state the centre sits on a prime commercial site that’s serviced, accessible to highway 3 and has 12000 vehicles a day traveling along it. The issue that will raise its head, is nobody will touch that site without the old hospital being removed, unless the municipality gives the site away. Will the taxpayers be willing to take on a million dollars worth of debt to remove it?
River Run properties: Somewhere in 2012 I suspect some of the investors will approach the municipality looking for a break on the back taxes in return for some minimal development on that property.
New recreation facility: Many people are talking about this; there is even a group that has recently been formed to work on this project. My argument was that this community did not have the tax base or the willingness of all those that live here on a fixed income to subsidize an indoor swimming pool. In fact I listen to a councilor at the last public forum talk about how the taxpayers have had to bear the “burden” of subsidizing a ski hill for years, quite a revelation when you consider that Pincher spends yearly 6-7 times what we spend on our ski hill to maintain there indoor pool. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that this group does not only have the intention to fundraise to build a facility but also to raise additional funds to operate it. I wish them nothing but the best an Indoor facility with no addition costs to the taxpayers I would support that in a heartbeat.
Note: For those that wish to help with this worthy cause I would suggest that check out the following: Crowsnest Can Do Cultural and Recreation Society page on
Facebook, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Bigger government: Remember how the municipality was stream lined from four departments to three. Remember at the beginning of this council’s term there were five management employees. Soon there will be seven. Will that number get even larger when and if the municipality stops using consultants?
Consultants: Wouldn’t we the taxpayers like to know what its cost us so far? The interim CAO, putting together our community peace officer program, the Crowsnest Centre, the new Fire Chief. Will we find out in 2012 will there be an end to this costly process? Remember the moment a consultant says everything here looks good our job is done the paycheck stops.
The democratic process: The last council was slammed consistently for 4-3 votes (which if anybody was counting happened in less than 5% of all votes). Up to now watching this council over the last fifteen months it has appears quiet the opposite, meeting with very little debate and very often decisions made by unanimous vote. Over the last month, I have seen Councilor Sage be the exception to this rule a few times. It will be interesting to see what this year brings; there is a name for governments that operate with no opposition.
Optimistic: How could you not be, we live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, there are lot’s of good people that live here. I hope this community stays affordable for all those that are, or soon to be seniors. I hope this community is careful to remember that its great to have dreams and aspirations but somebody must pay for them. We must also live within our means not just now but down the road.
Lastly “Consolidation of Blairmore/Coleman shop” will this really happen or was that press release last July just a poor attempt to show us that “change” was happening? On the other hand, is this a great example of how change will be instituted in this community?
2012 will indeed be an interesting year.
Feel free to leave your comments regarding these issues or any others.