I have tried to step back and not interfere with what this council does, but I would like to bring up a few points regarding the Robron all weather field project.
The question is not “do we want to build it or not” but rather, do the taxpayers of the city want it to be built at this time?
We have come through tough times losing our mills, the jobs, and tax revenue.
Taxes and user fees have increased. Services were cut and needed infrastructure projects delayed but they need doing now.
We are facing huge infrastructure costs that will require financing.
Councils have done a good job reducing our debt giving us room to borrow with interest rates low. There is room to increase the debt and the question is now what projects to you undertake?
We know we need a new intake system for our water supply and downtown services need replacing.
Where does Robron Park upgrades fit into the list of priorities?
For major projects where you have to borrow money, over a set amount, the Community Charter (laws governing municipal governments) requires council to obtain the assent of the electorate.
That is the approval of your constituents, the people of our city.
There are two ways to find that out. One is through a referendum and the other is by way of counter petition. A referendum is a well-known process that has been used many times by the city.
The counter petition method is where you advertise what you want to do and if more than 10 per cent of the registered taxpayers sign the petition then the matter has to go to a referendum or is not done.
The intent of the legislation is to provide for open, accountable, transparent government and to ensure council follows the direction of the people who elected them. It is a check and balance to ensure local tax dollars are spent wisely and with the approval of the taxpayer.
I was disappointed to read in the paper that council is considering a financing scheme designed to find a way around the rules.
This would take away our right to direct council to do what “we the taxpayers” want done.
We trust you to spend our tax dollars within limits set by the provincial legislation. We did not give you a blank cheque to run the city.
It is no different from the limits council sets for expenditures by staff. You certainly don’t like it if staff don’t adhere to the rules.
If you want to exceed those limits you have to ask the taxpayer if it is okay.
Don’t be afraid of the taxpayer, just ask the question and accept the answer. As I often say, “If it is the right thing to do, it will stand the test of public scrutiny.”
Charlie Cornfield, former Mayor, Councillor and continuing taxpayer
P.S. Purpose of the parks tax:
It is equally offensive to try and subvert the legislation by taxing us now and in previous years by squirreling away excess tax dollars into special accounts for projects not approved by the taxpayers.
If you have enough money hidden away to pay the $4 million (not sure how much it is estimated to cost now) or to do the project without borrowing then we have been over taxed.