Thursday, July 7, 2011

Feast or famine

In today's SP (July 7/11) Gerry Klein's Civic Affairs column implies that former Mayor Dayday was too alarmist in his recent statements regarding the rising debt of our city.

He rightly comments that over the decades past City Councils did little to advance the city and I would go as far to say that the city was in decay. However, he fails to note that those councils did not receive the infrastructure funding from federal or province governments that municipalities enjoy today. Or that Saskatoon was not enjoying a boom period.

He advocates that Council was right to advance costly capital projects in order to take advantage of funds available through senior levels of government. In some sense that is like saying you should buy something you can't afford because its on sale. I might agree with him on some of the infrastructure projects like the bridge, but I'm sorry, a $50 million dollar swimming pool, an $84 million dollar art gallery or $122 million dollar police station are above my pay level.

He points out that we will have to pay more taxes to support these facilities and justifies it by comparing our tax levels to other western Canadian cities. I truly wish when folks do this they would also point out the mean incomes of residents in those cities and the cost of living in those jurisdictions. Do these other jurisdictions have ever-increasing levies on utilities? And that residents of at least two of those cities don't pay PST.

The scariest part of this scenario is that we are at the limit of debt. Further debt in all likelihood will see a downgrade in our city's credit rating and then we will be hit hard on debt servicing. The "sheet financing" should have been the first clue.

We are feasting after a famine, seemingly without caution for the future. I for one am looking for a council that exhibits balance.

Dayday took a bit of a beating in Klein's column today, but I'm glad that he stepped forward to sound the alarm.

1 comment:

  1. From one extreme to another. Previous mayors did nothing of note and Atch has been like a trust-fund kid with an unlimited credit card.

    I agree with the comparison to buying things because they are on sale. Now what happens when something comes up that WE NEED and not want (ie a new water treatment plant or a second one to meet the growing water needs).

    Did Klein happen to mention that not only has all the debt been racked up but virtually every reserve fund we had has been drained as well? This was money earmarked for rainy days.

    I get angry every month when I see the additional capital projects charge on my utility statement and know full well that there is not a cent in that fund......all drained to satisfy the ego of Atch and his merry council of fools.


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