The headlines about the city’s failed maintenance of the city infrastructure says tighten your belts homeowners.
CAO Mr. Moroziuk reported to council that there was a $175 million deficit to the city’s infrastructure. In his report, Mr. Moroziuk referred to past council practices on budgeting from 2011 through 2015, quote “where there were small, and in some cases negative tax increases,” (through those years). Mr. Moroziuk went on to state “had there been some minor in property tax increases,” and “if we would have had moderate increases over that period — in the range of three per cent — our revenue stream would be considerably different than it is today.”
I have stated before that the lack of courage by councils to face the need for tax increases will lead to the collapse of our infrastructure. We can all see the collapse of the infrastructure above ground, but it is the underground pipes etc. that are being damaged by the collapsing of the road surfaces. Imagine a loss of drinking water to the hospital? That would be unforgivable as a result of these past councils practices.
I have stated before that you cannot run a multi-million dollar co-operation without recognizing the cost of inflation. Two cents on a litre of gas can inflate the city’s budget instantly. Projected or current inflation increases should be the minimum tax increase that any council should put to their annual budget.
The failure of past councils, as we have now discovered, is that our infrastructure is falling apart on us, which brings the city’s overall image down with it. For example, in that same report it was suggested to eliminate street cleaning and snow clearing to save money. This will make our streets more uncared for than they are now. You’d better be prepared to call for a taxi in the winter months, because there’ll be too much snow in your street for you to drive down it. The report proposed to eliminate side street snow clearing to save money?
I know the average homeowner may have difficulty to afford any increases, but they are better off to afford small increases over X number of years rather than be facing a major increase like Grand Forks has of 15 per cent (referred to in the PWM report).
Anyone of us who own a home know that regular maintenance of you home is essential, not only to own a decent home but to maintain the value. As we all know failure to fix your house this year will only add to increased inflationary costs of materials and fixtures the next year. You can apply the same principal to the maintenance of your own home, in having to maintain the city’s infrastructure.
Not mentioned in the CAO’s report was the policy that this council adopted when first elected, which was to waive property taxes for new residential construction for up to 10, yes, 10 years. Initially the policy was introduced to encourage residential development in the downtown core it was recently expanded out to the city boundaries. I have not yet seen any estimate of how much property taxes are being lost over the next 10 years as a result of this policy. The present homeowner’s are having to pick up the cost of services to these new developments. If the market is there the developers will build it, whether there’s property tax relief or not.
The lack of courage on the part of past and the present council have led to this call from the CAO for this council to take a serious look at his report, hopefully they will do their due diligence and read it. Take note that inflation is adding to the $155-million projected cost as your reading this. Sad to say whoever inherits the council chairs in the next election will be faced with some very tough and very unfavourable decisions to make regarding property taxes.
It was so interesting to read that former mayor Mike Pearce suggests that he and Dan Ashton are willing to ride into town on their white horse to save us from what they initially created from 2008 on? Does that mean your going to sort out the ongoing dormitory fiasco while your here? Where you and Dan allowed someone to build on city property without any transfer of title and left the city with the legal costs and to inherit the cost of settling the lean on the property? Is this the same Mike, when mayor approached me in a restaurant while with my family and asked if “I was still the mayor, would I have a tax increase or would I take from reserves.” One of my family told him that was his decision to make.
You wonder why I keep writing letters about city hall?