The Crowsnest Pass Ratepayers Association now has a Facebook presence. I just joined the group and later found the following letter (statement) that I believe sums up quite well what they are all about, and where they plan on going.
by Marilyn Milley
Crowsnest Pass RatePayers Association
Given the performance of council over the past 18 months it is time to address the issue of overspending. One can understand that some costs have to go up but they should be kept in line with the rate of inflation not impose 6% cost in our electrical distribution, a significant increase in fees, permits, fines, offset levies, taxes and service costs to the point that these increases become a cash cow to enable council to balance their overspent budget figures. Never once have any of them considered just what these increases are doing to our residents especially those on a fixed income. Many of them live in fear that they will lose their homes. Consider the 1.123 million dollars spent on hiring high paying consultants and outsourcing service contractors. Most people will admit that costs do increase but if they are held at the inflationary rate and not squandered upon wants instead of needs within our community then perhaps we can live with responsible increases. Given that this community has at least 180 homes for sale, and that we have a dwindling population and dwindling tax base, how are we expected to absorb the further tax burden left when these people move away?
The council must consider their direction they are attempting to take us. We are not Calgary residents expecting the same amenities they enjoy and we can only enjoy what we can afford. Council will have to go back to the table and begin revisions to their 3 year budget which is one of the worst concepts that they have put into place. They haven’t been able to stay within the 2.5% increase this year let alone spend an additional million dollars each consecutive year and expect us to absorb it all. A well known American senator gave a very enlightening speech in congress when the mortgage companies Fanny Mae and Freddy mac were bankrupt and the banks were collapsing said, “That this kind of spending only results in their businesses “hitting the wall” with nowhere else to go.
The mind set for council to do some damage control is to base their policies and revisions on a community need basis and not a community want basis. This must be accomplished within a short frame of time and hopefully we will be able to turn our economy around but we cannot and must not be forced to continue on the downward spiral.
If council will consent to a referendum of agreement to cut spending, the conditions being that if they are going to be overbudget they cannot raise taxes, fees, permits, service costs, utilities etc. in order to balance the budget but they MUST CUT SERVICES to bring costs back in line. This is now being practiced by our provincial government as well as the Federal Conservative Party. You cannot bring in $1000 and turn around and spend $1500.
A big issue under the overspending umbrella is the Peace Officer program which has been implemented by council and administration which when first presented by Mayor Decoux that according to the solicitor general’s office a peace officer could be appointed at no cost to the taxpayer. Well that is the biggest falsehood issued to date. We have already spent $140,000 dollars to outfit two enforcement vehicles containing all the bells and whistles that make them operational for service for example in Harlem New York. If we don’t have to pay their salaries then the fines they issue to us (the money being taken out of our left pocket) will pay for them and those of us who don’t get fined will still have to pay them out of our right pocket through our taxes. It definitely is not a win, win, situation for the residents. Consider that they don’t recoup their salaries we will spend at least $250,000 the first year alone that they are operating within our community. Add two peace officers to the RCMP 9 member detachment means that we have law enforcement for approximately 500 people per officer. I don’t know about anyone else but I consider this as overkill. All we require in this community is a qualified, responsible, intelligent, common sense by law officer who will do just that. Enforce our bylaws. Oh an afterthought…now and then the Sheriffs come to town to do their road stop checks. The RCMP have been enforcing the laws both federal and provincial for many years and as we have no drive by shootings, no gang wars, murders, and riots to contend with they have done an ample job of keeping the peace.
Council should take a look at their track record and face the reality that they are not working in our best interests and seem to have established themselves as an elite group who do not have to report to anyone. They work for us, which seems to have been forgotten and they must work within the parameters set by the population.
We have no input whatsoever into decision making especially if it concerns a large expenditure, (usually a ¼ or ½ a million dollars) and we don’t know the money has been spent until it is already a done deal and the equipment or policy is already delivered.
We must establish a two way line of communication between the council and the taxpayer or we will find ourselves at the Chapter eleven door if we continue on this rollercoaster spending spree.
- We are asking for responsible fiscal government,
- Government Transparency (keep us in the loop before decisions are made)
- A workable two way communication with the taxpayer and council
- Revisions to our budget that will bring taxes back in line with reality.
Endorsed by the Crowsnest Pass Ratepayers Association
Never doubt that a small group of people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.