Thursday, September 29, 2011

Who is more likely to pay for an expanding city

Guest Blogger here;

So the Chamber of Commerce believes you and I should be the ones picking up more of the city's costs thru our property taxes. The slippery slope started some years ago when they got the city to reduce their share down to 1.75 to one over the last few years and now want them to move even more of the tax burden to the local home owner. If this process continues, as I am sure business wants, personal property tax rates will be equal or even favour business.

My sense is that most people would believe businesses should be paying more for being in a growing city with more personal wealth which means more purchase power and more profits for them. The homeowner doesn't have the same ability to adjust their income to cover rising costs as business does. Many homeowners are on fixed incomes and get no relief from these tax increases. This is ultimately the problem with the type of archaic tax system (value assessment) that we currently use to gather the tax dollars the city needs to operate. The fact this business group is lavishing bouquets on this council for all the improvements in the city, shows they will go to any extent to schmooze those that make these decisions. It was only a couple of years ago this group lambasted council about cost increases.

I agree the city needs to provide the infrastructure necessary for our city to grow, but when was the last time you or I received at 5 or even 10 year tax holiday for buying a new home? The city should be looking at how it reduces the tax load on all of us instead of just transferring their out of control spending onto which ever group of people they feel will hurt them least at the polls.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Expressing your Thoughts on Voting

I encourage everyone to read the Mistress' column in this weeks Express . The topic of how we vote has been an ongoing issue. The premiss that each vote should carry the same wait is one I have to stand with.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Our debt worries are over thanks to prostitution.

Guest blogger here;

Finally the city is going to start to make a little cash off a business that has been running wild since the beginning of time. The fact Council is even looking at some kind of fee for service on escort services by way of licensing these outfits is one positive. Now I wonder which will be more valuable an escort service or a taxi drivers permit? Once we get some legalization we can start taxing this industry to the same extent as every other business and we will be in the black in no time.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Just as our summer ends full year schooling rears its ugly head

Guest Blogger here;

In today's SP there was an article on the fact that more Vancouver School districts are looking at providing a balanced year for some of their students. Does anyone think this debate could be had in this province let alone in Saskatoon? Given the lovely fall we have had this year and the extended summer temperatures is it time that we look at other reasons for staying with the system we have today. I'm not convinced that it would be to the benefit of the students. However if there are waiting lists in B.C. for this choice why not start a pilot here. Today's education system has many programs for our diverse population why not this one. I doubt our elected officials would touch this one with a ten foot poll or course unless the administration came up with the idea.

Enjoy the temperatures thanks everyone for the CO2 gases. If this is what Saskatchewan gets for "global warming" I'm in.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sutherland small town feel- big time dollars

Guest Blogger here;

Sutherland, now remind me where is that again.. Only kidding, I remember the days that I would visit this unique portion of Saskatoon. I always liked the types of businesses that were part of the main thoroughfare. Small mom and pop shops that truly were just like walking into small town Saskatchewan. Today's central street has none of that. Most of those business have made way for the likes of large bars and things such as car dealerships. Even the road system into the area means one doesn't need to travel down central to get into the neighbourhood.

I applaud the local business group for wanting to bring back that type of atmosphere, however it will take more that just some signs to get there. Just as Broadway, 2nd Ave and now 3rd Ave have had major upgrades, it is about time the town that got swallowed up by the neighbour next door receive some needed financial support. Keeping Sutherland vibrant and a unique part of our heritage is money well spent.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

SP Editorial Staff Still Think it is 2007

Guest Blogger here;

It's always disheartening to see a huge mistake in the first paragraph when the Star-Phoenix writes an editorial. Unfortunately it's not a rare occurrence. The SP's editorial on the NDP's wind power pledge is a good example. (SP Sept.20, 2011) The editorial states, "it's understandable that the provincial NDP would seek to capitalize on growing public concerns about global warming." That line might have worked 4 years ago but polls from the major public opinion consultants show that concern over global warming has cratered in the past 4 years. In the past couple years, since Climategate, not only has the public's belief that global warming is primarily caused by human activity dropped, the number of people who think that global warming is a serious concern has dropped as well.

If the Star-Phoenix was up to date on the latest information from NASA and CERN which discredit the basic assumptions of global warming, they wouldn't only be asking Link to cost out his proposals, they'd be asking why we are spending any money at all to solve a problem that doesn't exist. If the SP didn't want to join the growing ranks of sceptics they could at least ask whether the proposed action will make a difference in global CO2 emissions thus making the expenditure worthwhile. The answer, as it is to all such inconvenient questions, is NO! The truth is that our emissions are best described as completely insignificant. Our emissions are a rounding error when compared to the really big emitters like China. Saskatchewan could close down, move everyone out and leave the province to be repopulated by buffalo and it wouldn't make any difference. Link's proposal would cost a mint and accomplish nothing at all. In other words, par for the course. The SP got the first part right in wanting to know the cost. It's too bad that they didn't take the next step to look at the effectiveness of the proposal as well.

Maybe the problem is their taste in music. I'm sure that in the offices of the David Suzuki Foundation, the NDP, and the SP editorial staff an endless loop of Neil Diamond's I'M A BELIEVER, plays at top volume, drowning out rational scepticism.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bridge over the River WHY?

So over the last couple of weeks there was a lot of discussion around not only maintaining bridges in this province but also building new ones. It looks like this may be one battle ground neither party is willing to shy away from.

The NDP came out swinging with promises of a new bridge in Prince Albert. Something that was requested of them while they were in power for so many years and did nothing about it. Interesting it is so important to them now that they are in opposition. The SaskParty rifled back with the announcement of moving up a new north perimeter bridge in Saskatoon. An city with many more seats. I would say with a much more pragmatic approach of ensuring the design work and funding are in place with all levels of Government on board before making a formal announcement.

We have seen in Saskatoon that crossing the river isn't as easy or cheap as it may seem and isn't something you plan in a couple of years. The traffic Bridge is still some years away from even having a consensus on what should be done. The existing bridge in P.A. although suffering from fatigue, crossing of the river has only been slowed and not shut down to most travelers. The SaskParty was already committing to full funding of the repairs when the situation appeared. Another blow to the NDP's want to make some political points before the fall election. Score a point for the SaskParty.

So what does this mean for people in this province .... no matter who takes power this fall we will be seeing more money going into roads and I for one am happy to see it. If we want future generations to benefit from our new found growth, we need to spend the money now and build the infrastructure of the future. Putting a bunch of money into a so called savings account for future generations will only mean they will to spend more for what we can do now.

It may take a toll on our fiscal resources but then again maybe a "TOLL" is what we need.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I can find the poor $7 million can you.

Guest Blogger Says....

I found the opinion piece in Firday's Star Phoenix (Service Review Lacks Equity) an interesting take by those identifying themselves as advocates for the poor in our city. I'm perplexed at how these people take to task the service review and the cuts that will be affecting low income people and the increases in everyday costs should the transit fees be increased. Where were they crying fowl when the Recycling discussions were removed from those review discussions. Is the $7 million a year it will cost tax payers not coming out of their pockets as well. Are we to assume the $4.87 or what ever it may be most likely $15-$20/month to pick up what is currently being done for much less, going to come out of the available money low-income people have.

Costs in this city are going to be going up that is a certainty, the individualized pick-up of recyclables is a waste of money given the demands on civic services we have today from the years of neglect of councils in the past.

Oh and to those couple of councilors that what more money for roads how about just getting your priorities correct I don't see Regina having the problems we do and they receive similar funding.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Teaching an old Dog new Tricks

Guest Blogger here;

I hope everyone will oblige me with going off on a tangent today and I know this blog is for all things Political however I just couldn't pass up an opportunity to talk some football.

In today's Star "Towriss made the right call" the article highlights the career of most likely the best university coach this city will ever see. Now don't get me wrong I don't have a bro-crush on the guy. But even though I, as a fan, don't always agree with BT's decision making on the field the one thing I do know is I am glad he decided to stay in Saskatoon. His teams aren't flashy and at times very predictable however, they definitely get the job done. BT's commitment to a philosophy of respect and that school comes first in university sports has taken a so-so program to one of envy across the country. It isn't just the game day experience, although made one of the best because of its supporters (thanks Dave and Ron), brings the accolades. It is the fact many bright and young athletes are choosing to come to Saskatoon to not only play for BT but to get a great education. Over the years I have seen BT turn away or even drop players that others would love to have on the football field for their athletic prowess, but don't commit to the educational aspects of playing CIS sports. To now see BT moving into the number one spot for wins is something that all of Saskatoon should stand up and applaud. Win or lose this weekend one thing is for sure BT will make sure his team is back at the text books and ready for their classes on Monday. Congrats.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

It is all about the missing LINC

Guest Blogger says;

Ever since the Province took the reigns away from the School Divisions to directly tax the public there has been a lack of interest in how the School Divisions spend their money. I can remember years past where budget deliberations where fraught with wild and zany public meetings, where the media covered every second and even the slightest increase in the budget and therefore our taxes was met with angry and disdain.

Fast forward to today's Star Phoenix "Division budget awaits approval" there appears to be a lack of understanding by the Saskatoon School Board in regards to who is responsible for their locally implemented and negotiated contracts. All Boards were clearly told that those portions of their budget were not part of the Education funding given to all Boards. Only 10 Boards receive this type of funding, this alone should raise the ire of all the other Divisions. Many in favour of these types of agreements profess they are imperative in making sure we get the best teachers available. I say poppycock! I have a close family member that is just starting out as a teacher in this city. She comes from rural Saskatchewan and was overjoyed to just get a job in the city and couldn't care less about the LINC agreement. Jobs in our city and many of the other 10 Divisions that have these LINC agreements are sought after positions. For this Division and others to expect all of Saskatchewan to pick up their incentive program costs is laughable. If the Division wants to delay their funding until November, when the Cabinet reviews this type of funding, that is their prerogative. School Board Chair Ray Morrison needs to get his Board to follow the rules and if they can't find the estimated $500,000 in their budget I am sure others can. Election 2012 will be a good time to start.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Too Many Chiefs in the Kitchen Spoil the Dinner

Guest Blogger here,

Is it just me or are the recent incidents of the SFIN and SIGA (SIGA Spending Angers Chiefs, SP sept.14/11) got everyone wondering how these people can be trusted with operating a multimillion dollar entity. The government should move immediately to suspend all rights of the SFIN to operate the casinos and stop any further negotiations to expand Indian gaming in this Province. The main and sole rationale for allowing First Nations to have a monopoly on gaming, was to provide a source of revenue and economic growth for First Nations people. Little did the public know that "the people" meant only the Chiefs of the SFIN. It is now time for the "open for business" Sask Party to allow others to enter the casino market.

The only bright light in all of this is Kirk "on-the-right-track" Goodtrack. His commitment to removing all elected officials from the SIGA board would be a good step. However he will be running into major blockades from those interested in keeping their slush funds. As the old saying goes To Many Cooks Spoil the Dinner.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Keep in Touch

Fellow bloggers. I will be taking a short break from posting to tend to some personal matters. I will be checking in periodically and trying to keep in touch.

Watch for guest bloggers and help them along.


Budget austerity? I think not

It is noteworthy that Council's new spending will be delayed until after the next civic election.

The approved in-house cultural consultant (SP Sept. 13/11) will be far more costly than the $65,000.00 salary. The new hire will need space, equipment, support staff and seed money to sponsor cultural events. And it only cost us $150,000 to figure out how to spend this money.

I'm in support of the development of arts and culture in Saskatoon, but what I would like to know first iis what Council intends to take off the table in order to finance this project.

I won't even touch on the newly created death benefit payable to Councillors who die while in office.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Not everything should be recycled

The best way to eliminate your competitor is to buy them out. Loraas did exactly that with their purchase of Saskatoon Curbside Recycling (SP Sept. 12/11) and Cosmo has been thrown under the bus by all concerned.

It will be interesting to see how many of Saskatoon Curbside's customers want to continue to pay Loraas $20.00 a month for a service that, according to the city, will soon by provided for less than $5.00 a month.

We now have recycled a competitive industry into a monopoly.

Friday, September 9, 2011

History and histronics in the making

Wow! Brad Wall would have to be caught doing vile things to a dead sheep on consecrated ground in order to lose the upcoming election.

There are a couple of things that amaze me: 1) that the NDP elected Lingenfelter as their leader and 2) that 78.7% of the public polled believe Wall would make the best premier, yet only 63.4% will vote for him. Does that mean 15.3 of those polled would support Lingenfelter for premier even if they think he's not the best man for the job?

Things that I wonder about: 1) how many Saskatoon constituencies will elect NDP MLAs and 2) what labour will do to try and turn this around. If I were a sheep I would go into hiding.

Wall's biggest problems will be getting out voters who will view this election as a fait accompli as a result of the poll, and thereafter controlling an overwhelming and inexperienced back bench.

Well, it ain't over until the fat lady sings.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rah, rah, rah, sis boom bah

I was both amused and annoyed reading Gerry Klein's column today (SP Sept. 8/11.) He states that Saskatoon would need between $18 and $80 million dollars, at current rates, to have the same level of roadway service as do the cities of Regina and Edmonton, both of which are reasonably comparable in size and taxes levied. The question that should be asked is why have those cities been able to maintain their infrastructure with existing mill rate revenues and we have not.

Rather, he suggests the problem may be with the residents and their driving habits. He suggests that if we used 21st Century technology as do the mega cities of New York, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Singapore and Boston, and downloaded apps to track buses, available parking, alternate routes, etc. we would save wear and tear on the roads. Great idea - if everyone wants or can afford to own a Blackberry or similar device.

He believes that this is a paved road to a better, greener and smarter city. He may be right when our city population reaches into the multi-millions

Let the dreamers and pragmatists debate begin.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Green-eyed monster

The Green Party isn't just about the environment - its about green politicians. Larissa Shasko's very public resignation as provincial leader (SP Sept. 7/11) weeks before the election speaks more about the party's organization than issues. It also speaks to her integrity. Changing parties is one thing, but trying to sewer them on the way out the door is another.

Add on to this the sanction of Brenden Cross as a party candidate, the debate about whether to run Green candidates against NDP candidates in some constituencies, would leave me hoping that true Greens would rejoice in seeing her leave. Their gain may be the NDP's loss.

The Greens may never form government in our lifetime, but they offer a role of conscience to others.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Reality Check

I support Lingenfelter's recycled suggestion of creating a fund similar to Alberta's Heritage Fund for the use and benefit of future generations, but I would prefer that the government pay off the debt first. I think future generations do not want to pay for the debts accrued by past governments, regardless of what government created it. And the current interest on debt would help fill those coffers quickly.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Yup, money can by you happiness

I never could figure out whether the controversy around Lonechild was simply about a .08 charge or whether the collective just didn't like changes he was proposing.

I don't fault Lonechild for cashing out - there was no way for him to work productively in such a hostile environment. But I do wonder how much good could have been done for people on reserves with $600,000.

Another chapter closes.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The dream debate

On Aug. 20/11, the SP opinion column was "Dreamers must lead debate." It would seem that our Mayor has begun the dreamers' debate with his comments in today's SP (Sept. 1/11) about his dream tax goal of matching Calgary municipal tax rates, a city with one of the lowest levies in Canada. If the new Mayor of Calgary continues with his plan of tax increases, Atch may see his dream come true - if he's still in office 10 or 15 years from now.

However, the report is silent as to whether or not Calgary has user fees for services or extra levies on their bills. Anyone know? I think Jack Vicq, professor emeritus in accounting, makes a good point on using apples to oranges comparisons when examining tax structures and rates between cities without the framework being the same.

Since we have managed, according to a recent CMHC report, to exceed Calgary in terms of cost of housing, whose to say this tax dream won't become reality.

Then today we have SP Columnist Gerry Klein suggesting that the lowbrows in Saskatoon are resorting to "politics of the street" and reducing years of dreaming about creating a cosmopolitan city into base election issues of garbage pick-up, low taxes and pavement. Hmmm.

Let the debate begin,.