At the G+P meeting of September 18,2012 I sat patiently for over a hour and a half listening to delegations from the “Forty Developmental Assets Committee and the Southern Alberta Weed Coordinator” then to an update on the Strategic Plan that basically represented a back patting contest on how great the recommendations from the first pillar have been implemented or in the process of being implemented.
Then we found out that the final report on the Rum Runner Day’s weekend is in true TITV fashion being “deferred” to the October 2 meeting of council.
We got down to the issue of the $366,000 tax grab for 2013 better know by the label of Franchise Fees. Councilor Gallant and Saindon very quickly made some comments about looking for other answers than just raising taxes. Councilor Mitchell came to the rescue with a suggestion that would cut the increase by $70,000 so only hammering us with a $266,000 tax increase instead of the initial $366,000. (I guess six slaps to the head are better than seven) this approach had some support from Councilor Gail.
Then to my surprise Councilor Londsbury took the approach that this is only a $97 a year increase a “quarter” a day. He could not see where people are making such a big deal (On some web sites) he even went as far as to pull a pile of change out of his pocket that he had counted during the break and tell his colleagues here I have my next 35 weeks worth of the increase.
So at this point I am waiting for everybody to fall into line with Councilor Mitchell’s suggestion.
When suddenly I was blown away when Councilor Saindon stated “just because we can take the taxpayer’s money doesn’t me we should” Wow that was great the Mayor then pushed him for detail to which he laid out a list of items to review for cost cuts.
-Reduction of redundant services
-Work order program to determine inefficiencies and waste
-Skating rinks and pools where utilization rates are down and wage costs are up
-Bulk fuel purchases
-Big ticket equipment items that are not being used, even 100 hours per year (See my story on the Hoe)
Then Councilor Gallant laid out his area’s of potential cost cutting
-The Town Rounder
-Rural Garbage pickup
-Summer Ice ($60,000 at the arena)
-Money to heritage groups (Heritage Board, Museum, Bellevue Mine)
Not for a second did anybody suggest that all of these things should be taken away what they did suggest is that all of these things should be looked at before just imposing another $366,000 of tax on our residents. I have no problem dumping on these guys when they screw up but they also deserve KUDO’s when they do the right thing.
Yes I know it’s only a year to the next election and I feel that some of the councilors are feeling a little heat from the local taxpayers but some of them still did the right thing.
The Franchise Fee issue will be coming back to council in their first budget meeting, I would recommend that anybody that is talking to their councilors keep up the pressure let them know that you are glad they delayed this “tax” now you want it to go away completely.