Thursday, April 26, 2012

Crowsnest Pass how to run a community more efficiently using your tax dollars.

It seems almost ironic, just has we the taxpayers of the Crowsnest Pass sit patiently waiting to receive our Assessment Notices. To see how much that overall 2.5% tax increase has affected us as individuals. I finally received the information that I have been asking the municipality for since January 5.

How much have our leaders been spending on Consultants?

Today I picked up this massive two page document at the municipality the first page of which is basically a cover letter that says here is the information you requested.

The second page breaks down consultants that have paid for by the municipality since  Nov 1,2010, separated in to nine specific areas, here are just a few that people have been talking about for months.

Lets look at the first area Planning, Development, and Safety Codes remember the Mayor’s Task Force one of the members was Janet Hyde according to the report I have, she received $5,303 ? I also see on the list a payment of $19,000 made to Abiocon Strategies who could that be? Well very interesting when you google the company, after a couple of clicks on it’s web site who pops up? Janet Hyde.
Next appears a payment of $48,673 to “Friesen Tokar” they are described as a “Architectural, Landscape and Interior design company” with offices in Winnipeg and Calgary.

Then we take a look at the Fire and Enforcement area. We have all heard lots about the integration of the Fire and rescue departments and the upcoming establishment of the Community Peace Officer Program. We have already spent a whooping $140,000 restructing this departments.
Of that amount we spent $43,570 on “All Fire Investigations Inc” which when googled,  pops up has Kenneth Brands of Blairmore Alberta (Fire Chief who recently resigned). Then we see $80,345 spent with Transitional Solutions, finally under this category appears $13,055 paid to “Inn Heaven Bed and Breakfast” which is a bed and breakfast located right here in Coleman I can not imagine why we would incur a cost of over $13,000 to a Bed and Breakfast in Coleman to reinvent our Fire and Enforcement area.   

Lastly I turn to Administration, there we see $123,200 paid to Transitional Solutions. Now within the information an attempt is made to cover off the cost of Transitional Solutions by subtracting the cost of the CAO position and the manager of operations to the tune of $93,425.
The CAO position was vacant from June 15 to Nov 31 five and a half months.

Total on just the numbers listed above $333,146.

What does that mean to us as individuals? From a taxation point of view this year the Municipality is collecting an additional $264,162 from us in General Municipal Taxation an increase of 4% over last year and the largest increase in the last four years. All in a year where the assessment base actually shrunk by 2.5%.

I wish somebody would explain to me how your assessment base can shrink by 2.5% the amount of revenue collected by the municipality can go up 4%, and yet we only have a 2.5% tax increase. There is some very interesting number juggling going on. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Taxation in the Crowsnest Pass, 2.5% or ????

Well I have spent the better part of a week listening to a lot of people speak about how happy they were with the 2.5% increase in taxes.
Well once you get over the euphoria of "boy were the naysayers wrong, all these positions our leaders are creating at the municipality are not going to drive our taxes up".

Now you get to come back to reality, take a closer look. The real question is if I had a home assessed at $200,000 last year I would have paid  $1663.37 so assuming that home’s value stayed at $200,000 my taxes this year with a 2.5% increase should be $1663.37x2.5%=$1704.95 an increase of $41.58.
Well the residential mill rate went from 8.3168 to 8.8189 which means a $200,000 home today will reflect on your tax bill as $1763.78 an increase of $100.51 which is really a 6% tax increase.

Look at the previous post of how much the municipality as taken in, from General Municipal Revenue.

For example when you look at 2010 the last year of the previous council we only increased General Taxation by $72,806 or 1.1%, and we still managed to put $450,000 into reserves that year.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Taxation in the Crowsnest Pass

Municipality of Crowsnest Pass General Municipal Taxation

2009-$6,360,015-Increase of $82,326 equivalent to 1.3%
2010-$6,432,821-Increase of $72,806 equivalent to 1.1%
2011-$6,555,990-Increase of $123,169 equivalent to 1.9%
2012-$6.820,152-Increase of $264,162 equivalent to 4.0%

Go figure the municipality is increasing its taxes by 2.5% but the amount of General Municipal Taxation is increasing by 4%, in the past people have argued that this difference was caused by increased assessment not the case this year the assessment base actually dropped.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Taxes in the Crowsnest Pass

Hearing through the grapevine we are looking at the following:
Three year tax increases of 2.5%, 2.5%, 2.5%
Water + Sewer rate increases of 4.5%
Electric rate increases of 6%

More to follow.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Former Fire Chief Speaks out.

Slagging off, Mr Prince beat me again he has printed the article from this week's Crowsnest Pass Promoter. Regarding the former Interim Fire Chiefs comments made at the last council meeting. 

Can not understand if they had the full support of Mayor and Council why this got of the tracks.

Begs the question who is running the good ship Crowsnest Pass?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Where have all the Volunteers Gone?

Further to the discussion on the issue of volunteers check out the following:

Can you figure out the answer? Numbers in the Crowsnest Pass

So quite a lot of debate in the last few months about the size of the Bureaucracy in the Crowsnest Pass you can read my post below where I presented the numbers of staff in the Municipal Office at the date of the election and the numbers today. In that post I tried to very simply show how there were 19 people working out of that office in Oct/2010 and there are now 24.5 a net gain of 6 people (With a further position coming when the new Peace Officer is hired).

Today I read Councilor Gallant's response I expected something that would say either Dean your correct, or Dean your wrong there are now 24 positions and back at the last election there was 23. Now from Councilor Gallant post below it appears he as attempted to justify the positions. We and everybody around town could debate that for the next 18 months. The intent of my previous post was to point out that the bureaucracy has grown by one third in the last eighteen months I do not believe that Councilor Gallant has answered that comment do you? Read  his comments below and then vote on the right hand side.

For myself I have two simple questions was the number of 19 employees in October 2010 accurate.
Second is the number of 24.5 employees today incorrect. Go through both lists and tell me where I am wrong.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Putting the positive spin on the Crowsnest Pass

I was told yesterday that we all need to be more positive that even the local politicians are talking about all the negativity not being a good thing for the community.

So I said it’s time to put on my positive thinking cap get excited, look around us and write about all the “positive’s” we have in this wonderful community we call the Crowsnest Pass.

So I get to work, you can not argue the beauty of this community I think we can compete with anywhere in the world. The people, are incredibly good people who welcome you with open arms. The location of our community nestled in the Rocky Mountains, great proximity to the prairies, BC, USA, Lethbridge, Calgary all within a few hours drive. I thought wow there is a lot to be happy about in our community.

Then boom about 1pm yesterday I get a call telling me that the Devon gas plant is closing down, what a loss for this community 30-40 good paying jobs our largest Industrial tax payer, and a company that has been a very good corporate citizen for a long time.
Bad news, that really deflated my positive attitude.

Later I am thinking how do I get back to that positive frame of mind? it’s Tuesday let’s go to the council meeting and find some inspiration.

What an opportunity it fell right in to my lap.

First good news the Crowsnest Historical Society appears as a delegation they are going to keep the museum open through the summer, thanks to the hard work of the previous board they are getting a provincial grant that will keep them afloat. Positive stuff.

Then the CAO gives a verbal report the municipality put out a Request for Proposals on the Crowsnest Centre Site (previous council had set the direction by rezoning this land to commercial). The CAO informed council that there has been so much interest in this site that they have extended the dead line from April 20 to May 18. A new hotel soon great news. Positive stuff

The CAO informed council that the new “Director of Protective and Community Services” will be starting next week. This gave Councilor Mitchell the opportunity to refresh everybody’s memory to the fact that we used to have four departments with four Directors but now we only have three departments headed up by three directors.More positive stuff.

Then one of the councilors mentioned that he can not understand all the rumors going around about tax increases, especially considering that council has not finalized the budget yet.
I can not see a councilor taking that position this far along in the budget process unless they have some sense of where the process will end.Well looks like more positive news.  

On my way out somebody asked me how much longer do you think the consultants will be here? I told them well on Councilor Saindon’s blog he states the following:

We only have one consultant on the payroll to date and she will have her programs completed very shortly”   
 That burden on our tax dollars will end soon. Even more reason to be positive.

Then today I was reading the Promoter looking at the comments regarding additional community policing and I am thinking lets be positive the Mayor, the consultants told us these positions will pay for themselves. If that isn’t positive what is?

 Man I am getting so full of positive that I could almost explode. I can’t wait for the next council meeting Inspiration with a capital “I”  

Devon Gas Plant-Bad news for the Crowsnest Pass

More dire news for the Crowsnest Pass, I hear that the Devon Gas Plant is shutting down.
I hope this is not true, Devon is a major employer with good paying jobs and has been a great corporate citizen over the years.