Appalled and angry would be the words I use to describe what in going on at city hall.
Since I first learned of the $32.2 million proposed loan, I started digging into the finances of the city in preparation of launching a petition and doing everything I can to make sure this does not happen. Something sure stinks over there but from where I'm standing, I really can't say where it's coming from.
Is it coming from city council? Yes, but not just there. Is it coming from Dave Dyer who couldn't seem to adequately answer questions as to why the infamous sinkhole or the disastrous bridge on the Willow Cale road skyrocketed into the millions over-budget? Yes, but it's still not the only source.
Might I also mention we still haven't heard anything about the PW615 water station off of Foothills that is rumoured to be $3 million over budget. I'm sure we'll have to take out another loan for that one, too.
I suspect a review from another source is due and not a former city manager. Insert eye roll here. And no, I'm not talking a review where the council says yes that's lovely and moves on without initiating anything the review suggests. I propose it be someone of the frugal but sensible variety; someone who knows how to make a penny squeal for mercy and get its true value.
Here's my problem: this year I was excited to receive a three per cent wage increase. Awesome, right? It is, but it's not going into my pocket unfortunately, it's going into city council's pocket. I sure wish I could vote myself a $30,000 wage increase.
Maybe it could help pay for the new taxes rolling out - 4.3 per cent increase this year, plus three per cent next year for the pool and fire hall, plus 2.3 per cent for those 11 capital projects, which ends up as what with that bridge and sink hole loan? A 10 per cent raise in our taxes in the next two years is more than unbelievable. It's unacceptable.
If I were do a project at my job that ended up costing the company over twice the budget, and since it was already done that they have to pay it with interest, I can pretty much guarantee I wouldn't hold the key to the pocket book anymore, and rightly so. Where is the responsibility? Where are the consequences?
I attended the March 11 city council meeting and something that sticks out in my mind is the woman pleading with council to reconsider the subdividing of the property right next to hers. She explained how she loved her home and rural property and how they had had to pay extra each year for the city services that were introduced out there. An extra 20 grand a year is nothing to sneeze at, yet they paid it, and were looking forward to the time when it was paid off and they could enjoy their private property at last free of the financial burden of the extra taxes.
Another gentleman provided pictures on one such property that showed how the once private lot became anything but private with a gigantic house looming over a regular home with all of the trees on the property line gone.
When you buy rural property this is what you are trying to avoid, you are looking for the privacy acreage provides; not someone peering through your window from theirs.
I felt the issue to my core, but city council listened and had a few questions for Ian Wells and then seemed to brush off concerns with a statement that said "well, we need more money so tough luck."
Too bad they weren't so harsh when it came to their spending habits. Maybe we wouldn't need the measly property taxes from a single property so bad that we could toss one's happy home ideals out the window without a further thought.
Mr. Wells was equally unconcerned trying to state that 1.2 metres from a property line was more than adequate and that half an acre was still a large chunk of land. It is, if you're talking within city limits.
Perhaps he and city council should have to pay a cozy extra mortgage a year for 20 years and then get told their fences are getting chopped down and the houses on either side jammed up against their homes. If they complain well, suck it up buttercup.
Maybe they might be willing to understand a little bit more.