Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ya think?

What I liked best about the three-year term for civic government was that at least every third year we would enjoy a small tax increase. When Council, without "consultation" with the public joined in the request to change the legislation to a four-year term I lamented the fact that property taxation would only be a serious consideration every four years.

In today's SP (June 21/11) it is reported that council will take a 'gut-wrenching' review of services. Back to basics seems to be the coming theme for budget preparation for 2012, a civic election year. Would I rather have services necessary to my daily living over debt and debt repayment? Do I want my roads repaired? Street cleaning? Snow Removal? Or do I want pay to maintain River Landing, the Shaw Olympic Pool, Art Gallery of Saskatchewan . . . . .

Too little, too late.

10 comments:

  1. Too little, too late is right.

    Not only will I not forget this current crop of Councillors spending ways next election I will be sure to remind anyone who will listen of the need to clean every single one of them out (perhaps with exception of Donhauer and Loewen).

    This is the same Council who spend days contemplating cuts last year and were unable to do what it took to get under the magical 4%. A couple months later it comes out that one of the programs that they just couldn't suspend was Hill's New2U program (basically $25,000 for a program that entailed asking people to dump their old furniture on roadsides). I know $25k isn't make or break, but the fact when belts needed tightening they couldn't axe this program speaks volumes.

    Sound barriers being financed (I can only assume at a higher rate) by construction companies to hide the debt from the books? Perhaps if we cannot afford sound barriers we should not build them right now. Is the City going to stop functioning without them? Funding luxuries like this is akin to funding a vacation on your credit card. Stop the building, stop the madness.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I do a little round-up of budget and property tax increases since 2003 here in Saskatoon.

    While we are a growing city, I agree with the Mistress - what spending do we want to prioritize?

    I also agree that we wouldn't be having this excerise if it wasn't an election budget. The problem for this current council is that they have committed so much new spending for next year (something like a 5-6% increase as we stand today) that it will be extremely hard for them to get below 3%.

    ReplyDelete
  3. that should read "I did"...and a link would help!

    http://www.blog.seanshaw.ca/?p=1094

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Sean. Checked your round-up and thanks for writing. Anyone wanting to go to Sean's blog - Municipal Matters - can do so by clicking on the link on my side bar.

    I'm particularly concerned about the "off-sheet" financing re sound walls. Didn't Enron fail because of off-sheet financing shenanigans?

    While were at it, lets review the increasing levies attached to our utility bills. And the new utility Recycling and its cost. This is all taxation, broken down and slid to the taxpayer under the name levy or utility. And next in line will be the charges billed for garbage pick-up.

    Some of these services used to be covered by property tax. Now they are billed seperately, but property taxes have not decreased to take into account the new billed charges.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The City has found a very creative way in increasing taxes. Take things that previously were covered by property taxes (as a bundle) and start charging for the them individually meanwhile doing nothing to alleviate the property tax burden. They need to do this because the property taxes will now see a huge chunk slide towards debt servicing.

    Sadly, as the Mistress points out, they are using Enron type practices to hide debt from the books. Will this loan from the contractors still be listed as a liability? What no one has mentioned is that at the City's preferred borrowing rate (which I think Sean touched on in his blog) would be at risk if they added on this further debt, are we to believe that construction companies are charging equal or less interest? Even though they will be financing it over the term? If they are not charging competitive rates is there a reason for such (ie. the promise of future work?)?

    This all stinks pretty bad. This Council has racked up a debt and now has no idea how on earth they are going to pay for it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Here is a link on the financing of the sound barrier walls that the Mistress wrote about at the time. Offers a good breakdown of exactly what the City is doing. What a gong show they are.

    http://civicmistress.blogspot.com/2011/06/whats-cooking-at-city-hall.html

    ReplyDelete
  7. Just to clarify for all.. Council has only approved exploring the idea of obtaining a loan through the sound wall contractor. Once proposals come back for the project they have the ability to cancel the entire thing. From what was said during the debate, Council seemed generally skeptical/cautious about this approach but figured it was at least worth exploring.

    ReplyDelete
  8. interesting and right on the money post. just remember that what is important to one person is not important to another - it also depends on the season; dandelions or snow removal.
    those who whine the loudest generally get what they want (eg bike lanes, recycling,housing, Traffic Bridges) so creating that balance of needs and wants really is a difficult. council will know if they got the balance right if everyone everywhere is a little pissed off.

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's an interesting trade off:

    nice capital projects in exchange for crumbling streets and roads and no services in the winter.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for a nice share you have given to us with such an large collection of information. Great work you have done by sharing them to all. simply superb. Photo Recovery

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.