Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mathematically Challenged?

I'm late posting this morning as it took me a while to come out of shock after reading the Star Phoenix article on Council's record capital spending. We have six councillors that have committed to no tax increase beyond the rate of inflation, that being the majority vote. We have the provincial government freezing spending and examining its priorities and commitments. We have a capital budget that suggests a 10 to 12 percent tax increase. Somehow none of this adds up.

Councillor Paulsen states she expects the provincial government to keep their promise and she is not going to stockpile money to give the province an opportunity to find a way out. I expect this means council spends, creates debt and if the government doesn't cough up then it is the fault of the government, not council, and thus council is entitled to jack up property tax. This rationale is so old and lame. Its as smart as the provincial government establishing a budget based on commodity revenues.

The items in this budget that will find favour with the public have the least financial impact. Adding $425,000 to repair of back lanes, although a pittance, is a start. Extra money for front street repair would have been appreciated as well. Doubling the community garden development fund to a whopping sum of $3,000 seems the best investment. For $3,000 you enable the community to enhance and maintain city owned property. Its a steal. The city can't even cut weeds on the boulevards for that amount of money.

As for $5o,ooo for rebranding Gordie Howe Bowl, if you have to spend money to find ways to convince people how to use a facility maybe you don't need the expanded facility. Although I support a community pool for Mayfair maybe things are going over the top and you don't need lane pools, spray toys, waterslides, etc. Lets keep in mind that after the capital expenditure comes the operating and maintenance cots of these facilities.

I for one would invest in buying each councillor an abacus.


  1. The provincial government breaking its promise to the city of Saskatoon is the fault of the provincial government.

  2. "The provincial government breaking its promise to the city of Saskatoon is the fault of the provincial government."

    True enough, but the City (Councillors) breaking their promise to taxpayers is the City's fault then.

    Knowingly, or ignorantly, failing to plan for a potential (and quite likely) shortfall from the Provincial Government is just irresponsible. The fact that it is being discussed in a public forum that there is a chance this Provincial money may not come through should be evidence that City Council should at the least be making contingent plans in case the money does. I would fail to accept the explanation, "We only broke our promise because the Provincial Government broke theirs" from Council if they broke their collective words by increasing taxes.

  3. This has nothing to do with the Provincial Government. This is everything to do with Municipal Governance.

    We elected councilors to govern our city based on their vision and campaign. The majority ran a platform that included promises of not raising taxes beyond inflation rate, therefore the public elected a council that in essence has promised it will not raise the mill rate beyond inflation.

    Once elected, it is council's job to maintain their promises. Nothing ever runs smoothly in governing (ie. higher than expected costs, unforseen costs, etc..). However, it is the duty of the council to take the hand dealt to them and use what is available to carry out the business of the city.

    I for one question some of the expenditures. Didn't we just build a brand new state of the art pool on the westside of the city? The Shaw Centre was a major project and now we are jumping and spending MORE money on another westside swimming pool? Please to the bleeding hearts don't accuse me of a westside/eastside bias, I would be equally appalled if two new mega-pools were build on the eastside as well. This is ludicrous. If Mayfair requires a pool so desperately why can we not build a more modest one? The Shaw Centre is relatively close to Mayfair, there is the H. Bailey Pool right off Idylwyld there as well. This pool plan is absolutely ridiculous.

    So now we are building a third lane swimming pool within a small area at the same time we are trying to embark on a major expenditure for a new bridge and are at the current time unsure how we will be paying for all this stuff.

    This council better know what they are doing

  4. Not that you could do it for $50K, but any money that is poured into Gordie Howe should first and foremost go to installing turf of some kind. That is a dangerous place for athletics in its current state

  5. I second Anon, this has nothing to do with the Provincial Government breaking their promise. If the Provincial Government is not forwarding the money expected to Municipalities it is because they are trying to keep their promise to the taxpayers and not raise taxes.

    Maybe City Council should take a step back and think about that...not breaking promises to tax payers!!!

    That being said, this is a debate about the Municipal affairs of the city and for the sake of those who visit regularly this should not turn into another NDP/SaskParty bashing thread. Is anybody out there in agreement with the Council on this spending?

    Personally this Mayfair pool is junk, I agree with the post above about the brand new Shaw Centre. Mayfair is essentially in the middle of two great swimming pools and they need another new pool there? There has to be better ways to spend the money.

    I wouldn't even be upset if they left the $$$ in the Mayfair area, give them money for a project. But why does it need to be another useless pool? There are already numerous on the westside of the city. Let Mayfair build something that the city needs and will benefit all.

  6. Clearly no one who has posted is from Mayfair. Where I live we would need to take a bus to the new Shaw Centre, we need a pool within walking distance.

    As for Harry Bailey it is always busy there and getting run down.

    This would never be an issue if it wasn't the area itself, I bet Briarwood would receive far less complaints if they got the money for the new pool. With all the money that the Eastside gets, I don't see why one project on the Westside is such a big deal.

  7. Eastside Westside here it goes.
    The Shaw Centre is, based on information available, the largest investment in a civic facility that the city has ever made (Interestingly they have never released the final price tag)Nothing even close on the East.

    Back to the topic Mistress you have it right, but on the other hand we elected them and it is the same old same old.

  8. This council has the same problem is the entire generation that is soon about to take over and that is with spending outside their means.

    There is no such thing as saving anymore, rather things are purchase now on lay-away, or interest free, or whatever. The fact remains, that previously if you did not have the money you didn't do things. Now it seems like you do them anyways and figure out how to make the payments later.

  9. I still fail to see how Councilors and the Mayor continue to indicate capital projects don't increase property taxes? Any money spent by the city is obtained through fees services or taxes. If money is taken out of the pot then there is less to use on the everyday costs. I have no problem with getting work done on capital projects that we need such as finishing the south bridge project before the year 2100. But spending millions on a redo of the gordie howe bowl is outright asinine. Even to put 50 thou on a report to see how they can re-market the place is a waste. Maybe it is time the city and the university get together and work cohesively on these types of sporting facilities. At the time the Centennial High School was built the outdoor field there was marketed to the school board as a place for use by high school football. Extra funds were diverted to cover additional cost so that could happen. So why is High School Football still being played at GH??? Track and Field events currently are held at the UofS where would that facility get its revenue if the city built another track? I don't see these events jostling for enough time.

    But I digress from the topic at hand. TAXES will be going up and yes lets blame the Province because I'd hate to blame myself for voting for one of those spendthrifts on Council. OH I forgot I didn't well then I'll just blame those that did.

  10. "Taxpayers" can't have it both ways.

    Either you get your $300 million freeway bridge, $82 million paved riverbank, and $58 million art gallery, or you keep taxes stable.

    It's obvious that Saskatoon "taxpayers" want the highest quality of public services, but are unwilling to pay a dime for them.

  11. I don' think there are many in Saskatoon who want a new $58 million dollar art gallery. I have yet to hear any sort of cry from the public for this.

    The new art gallery is the want and greed of the Mendel Board primarily, who should be called out for collectively sticking a knife into the back of the Mendel Legacy. The Mendel Board should look out for the Mendel Gallery, not campaign to build a new gallery that will end the existence of the Mendel.

    The freeway is more a necessity at this point, if you think traffic can be bad now wait five years and see what happens without a south bridge.

    $82 millions paved riverbank? by the description I'll assume you're a 'naturalist' who thinks it should be left green. I think the public simply wants something attractive for the city that is self sustaining (ie. GET SOME INVESTORS IN THERE). The price tag is over inflated and $$$ have been wasted there over the years.

    "It's obvious that Saskatoon "taxpayers" want the highest quality of public services, but are unwilling to pay a dime for them."

    This is so off base not sure where to start. Sure we want civic services provided by the City but at the current time there needs to be some fiscal responsibility.

    The Provincial Government just got hammered for failing to prepare a drop in commodity prices. How in the world can a municipal government in this province at the current time (with our Provincial economic affairs in a state of disarray) pass the biggest budget of all time based on a) promises of money from the Prov Govt that is obviously in some sort of limbo and b) a promise to taxpayers to not raise taxes.

    The Province is being hit by a recession (perhaps a minor one), now is not the time to be spending money that we don't have and are unsure if we will have.

    As a taxpayer I will spend money on what needs to be done right now (ie. a bridge that is going to have to be built eventually, developing the core of the downtown riverbank). But please let's spare the luxury items like ANOTHER SWIMMING COMPLEX, when we just finished building one last year and spending useless money on a study of Gordie Howl Bowl so that we can justify spending more money on fixing up that run down dump.

  12. To be fair, it isn't "another swimming complex", it is a replacement of an existing pool. If you've ever been to the pool site you'd also know that there isn't much room and anything built there will be on a scale to what is already there - a 4-5 lane, 50m long pool.

    The Shaw Centre is not close to Caswell/Mayfair, so I'm not sure why that's even presented as an arguement.

    As for Council - It's an interesting public stance. I don't doubt City Admin is preparing for the worst, but besides Heidt and Neault (according to the SP) the rest of Council didn't seem concerned with the potential mill rate incrase their $326 million dollar capital budget could contribute to.

    I agree with CivicMistress - the items residents would most appreciate recieved little - back alleys, front streets...street infrastructure upgrades/repairs in general..

  13. So the to the person living in Mayfair. I hear your plight but cant say I support a full blown lane pool. If the city is willing to spend $50,000 to find out how it can change Gordie Howe Bowl to increase revenue why would they turn around in Mayfair and build something that has no chance in ever breaking even. Swimming pools are a money pit. Just ask anyone who owns one. I would rather see a community centre that can be used all year round and be used by more groups.

    I live on the East side and live no where close to a city pool or civic sports facility does this mean I should get my own NOT! These types of facilities need to be reviewed as a whole. The pools on the East side are spread out not clustered together to give the best possible use for all. The West side pools need to be done in the same manner putting a pool within easy walking distance of HB is ridiculous especially when it will only be used for 60+ days.

  14. Regardless of whether this is a new or an existing complex is irrelevant. With the current Provincial finances in flux and the Municipal probably not far behind why are we embarking on significant capital expenditures on what are luxuries?

    This is just irresponsible spending so that council can stroke their egos and buy some votes for the next election.

    If only we could have another election today, I for one will never vote for the Atch again (I did this past election regrettably due to the lack of any other worthy options, sorry Lenore supporters she was/is not a practical option for mayor). Further, I would rather run myself then let my councilor be acclaimed again after this little spending spree.

  15. "People sometimes think that politicians don't take tax dollars seriously, but we went on for almost 90 minutes (Tuesday) night on taxpayers' dollars." - The Atch

    How are we supposed to take this guy seriously anymore? Really a whole 90 minutes about the millions of tax dollars, I spend more with my friends dissecting a Riders game on a weekly basis.


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