Friday, August 31, 2012

Who's in control in the Crowsnest Pass

Click on Picture to enlarge.

Thanks again to Gord much appreciate your work.
Unfortunately I have been away for a couple of weeks, I have been following my fellow bloggers comments  it appears there is more and more for the residents of the Crowsnest Pass to be concerned about.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Gopher Hunting in the Crowsnest Pass

Anybody else remember the attitude that was taken at the town hall meeting regarding stupid rumours? Remember that little speech?

How the idea of a gopher hunter being paid $850 a day was laughed off?

Well read the front page of today's Promoter.
Next thing you know somebody will try and tell us that the Peace Officers will pay for themselves.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Community Peace Officer Program (paying for itself?)

Community Peace Officer Program

Interesting I was reading last weeks council package and came across the following:

"The Community Peace Officer Program or any Municipal Enforcement if structured properly can be self sufficient and provide a needed service that the community rate payers expect at an affordable price.

For Example:

The City of Cold Lake AB with a population 12,000 has an enforcement division whom work collectively with the local RCMP detachment. They have three CPO's and since the inception of the CPO program three years ago they are now in 2012 experiencing additional revenue generation that will lead to self sufficiency.

The Town of Morinville AB with a population of 8,000 has two CPO's who work collectivity with the local RCMP detachment which are also experiencing the same outcome.

The City of Yellowknife NWT with a population of 20,000 who works collectively with the local RCMP detachment has 6 constables, 2 cpl, 1 manager, 1 parking constable, and two support administration personnel. They conduct the same duties and responsibilities as our CPO's. Therefore to operate this city program only $128,000 was funded by the rate payers.

The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass is no different with two CPO's who also work collectively with the Local RCMP detachment (which we do not financially compensate) compared to the other communities mention above. Our CPO program enhancement will be cost effective, efficient and we will strive towards being self sufficient".    

The comments above surprised me for one I see Cold Lake’s program which was put  into place three years ago, “they are now in 2012 experiencing additional revenue generation that will lead toward self sufficiency”. Wow, I thought this program was going to pay for itself? Maybe 5-10 years down the road.
The town of Morinville has two CPO’s (they also have about 40% more people than we do) and they “are also experiencing the same outcome”? Scary
The City of Yellowknife being compared to the Crowsnest Pass is just silly, they have a budget of close to $80 million dollars a year, and is the central hub of activity for the North West Territory.    

So being the inquisitive type of person I am I did a little bit of checking around to see how successful these other programs have been. I could only find financial information on Cold Lake.

Under their budget for 2012 you can see for yourself, policing and bylaw services are “far” from paying for themselves under Police services they have a budget of $1,975,494 with revenue of $682,000 coming in. Under Animal Control/Bylaw Enforcement they have a budget of $503,967 and revenue of $60,700 coming in. I think the numbers above show “self sufficiency” being a long way down the road.
Is this what the Crowsnest Pass will face?  

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Good News, Bad News Hidden Taxes in the Crowsnest Pass

Yesterday I received some information regarding the triennial budget, Information that I had requested from the Municipality back in June. Big thanks to CAO Myron Thompson and his staff for getting that to me.

First, the good news there is no projected Utility Rate Increases for 2013-2014 (Water, Sewer, Garbage, Recycling)

The Bad News our Franchise Fees will be going up next year, the fee we pay on our Gas bills that is then handed over to the municipality will increase next year by 75% which will take an additional $211,980 out of the taxpayers pockets.
The fee we pay on our power bill will be increasing by 43%, which will take a further $124,965 out of the taxpayer’s pockets.
That means in total an additional $336,945 will leave our bank accounts and be used to feed the municipalities appetite.  
The only bright note from this is that the municipality will have reached the maximum it can charge for Franchise Fees at that point, so barring a change in regulations by the provincial government it will not go any higher.

Above I have just indicated what the increase in Franchise Fees will be for next year. In total Franchise Fees collected in 2013 will be $906,694 or roughly $285 per household.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Want to be late this is what it will cost you. Fair or not?.

First of all I have to say I agree in theory everybody should pay their taxes on time plus their credit card bills, bank loans, utility bills etc, etc.

Unfortunately, the world is not perfect and sometimes for whatever reason people can’t pay their bills on time. That is why banks, credit cards, utilities and yes various levels of government (Including municipalities) get to charge penalties. Personally, I don’t have a problem with that if I am not going to pay a bill on time it should cost me more.

The issue is always are the rates being charged fair? How do we determine fair? Well in my mind you do it by comparing to what other people in the same field charge.

If it’s a credit card and the average rate is 10% I don’t have a problem being charged 10%. If it’s a utility company and the average late charge is 2% I don’t mind being charged (hold on) 2%.

So how does our municipalities 52% rate for being late compare? Is it fair? Let’s take a look at what the competition (other municipalities) are charging.

Town of Pincher Creek 22%
Didsbury 18%
City of Red Deer 12%
Calgary 14%
Gibbons 26%
County of St Paul 3%
MD of Bonnyville 10%
MD of Greenview 18%
Ponoka 28%
Rocky View County 12%
Edmonton 15%
Athabasca 12%
Mayerthorpe 12%
Turner Valley 12%
Bashaw 12%
Taber 12%
Sylvan Lake 14%
Olds 18%
Two Hills 12%
County of Wetaskiwin 13%
Fort Saskatchewan 18%
Coalhurst 18%
Vermillion 12%
County of Ponoka 22%
Strathcona County 22%
Brooks 26%

That’s just 26 examples of municipalities that I could find, on average they are charging 15.9%. Now I am sure there are municipalities out there charging higher and lower rates if somebody wants to send me those examples I would gladly add them and adjust the average number accordingly. Do I think there is any way possible to bring that 15.9% average any where close to our 52%. I think the question of fairness has been answered.