Letter to the Editor: WE HAVE A BUDGET

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Congratulations to:

1/ Town Administration for a lot of hard work and yes they tried to bring the budget process out in the open for the general public to view, ask questions and take part in the process.

2/ Congratulations to the Mayor and Council for politely sitting and listening to the very FEW people who turned out to the open houses, or even fewer who attended the open forum at the November 13th regular council meeting and made presentations.

3/ Mayor and Council team for their display of leadership skills in “friendly” negotiations that involved reducing some projects, cutting others and then at the next meeting starting all over again.

Results everyone can read about in any of the local news media – a total of approximately $312,000 shaved off of an $11,000,000 operating budget and $3,642,400 capital budget really is only approximately 2% which really is peanuts.

HOORAY you say, our taxes are only going up 2% – but wait, this does NOT include

1/ the school tax requisitions which are collected by the municipality on behalf of the Province

2/ Mil rate increase for real growth assessment

3/ Water Fees are going up

4/ Sewer Fees are going up

5/ Garbage Fees are going up

So, does this hold the line at 2% still look as good as it does in print? Maybe a few more general Joe Blow general taxpayers SHOULD take an interest in what is going on with THEIR TAX DOLLARS!

Having gone to the open house, and all three council meetings, I close yet another budget season with an empty feeling of not being heard, not all the questions completely answered, people complaining about the “spending” trends of the town council and yet not willing to participate to change this trend.

My final question to the town council would be as the taxes continue to rise and they will with revenue trends decreasing when will affordable housing be available to those who will have to sell their properties and look for other means of living?

Linda Lyons a concerned taxpayer.

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4 Comments

  1. Linda,

    I will start by admitting that I did not attend any of the budget meetings or the council meeting in November that was open. During those times, I was working (I am a shift worker) and had surgery on November 6th and was unable to get out of the house for the meeting.

    The average inflation rate here in Canada for 2012 is estimated to be approximately 1.66%. The 2013 inflation rate is expected to sneak above 2%. As a ratepayer in Morinville, I have absolutely no problem with increase in the property tax increase at all.

    You mention a grouping of various costs that we need to consider that will also go up and say that we should not be so quick to be happy about that 2%.

    The water and sewage system works on a cost recovery basis. Not only does it cost more to pump the water (Electricity rates, labor rates for pump installs and repairs, etc) but it also costs more money each year to repair the system when we have problems. Remember, Morinville is really good at ensuring we have a constant stream of water flowing to our homes and sewers to take away the bad stuff.

    Garbage fees are going up, but we have a great system here and that costs money. In many communities, recycling is just coming around or is still not happening. We get it weekly. Bi-weekly pickup of yard waste materials occurs in the summer, which is something that doesn’t happen everywhere. And our garbage pickup is also done well. Again, this is a cost recovery basis, so the town is not charging us more money than it is costing them to operate the system. This system is easy to use.

    Finally, the education fees and the mill rate for real growth. There is nothing the town can do about the education taxes, so to me, it becomes a relative moot point. As for the mill rate for real growth, I believe that their calculations will be quite close and accurate.

    I believe the Morinville Council has done a great job of working towards filling the needs of the community for 2013.

    I believe that starting this year there are new projects that the town should consider as we approach a population level of 10,000 in the city which will see us providing services for closer to 13,000-15,000 people. The question we must ask going forward is what type of community do we want, and I believe that will become answered within a year when the 2013 municipal elections take place.

    Thanks,
    Rob

  2. OK Rob… I don’t know who you are, if you’re married or single, own your own home or what, but while YOU might feel all warm and fuzzy about all the increases in taxes, fees and whatnot, those of us on a fixed income have a slightly more jaundiced view of these things.

    I’d like to know where you got your estimated and/or projected inflation rate numbers because news and business organizations can’t seem to agree.

    Your last paragraph tells me that you’re pretty anxious for this Town to become a City. While I have no reason to think that at SOME time in the future we MAY wish to proceed in that direction, to do so without carefully examining ALL the pros and cons would be to court disaster. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably realized that we really haven’t decided whether we’re destined to become a regional hub or to remain essentially as a bedroom community… Better sort that out first.

    Like Stephen pointed out in an earlier editorial/article on this subject – perhaps we should chill until the bills come in, later in the Spring.

    • Stephen pointed out in the article on the budget that actual tax increase is determined by property assessment and the setting of the mill rate. Nothing more / nothing less.

  3. Mr. O’Brian, I offer the following as a response to your opinion and questions,

    I am 30 years old and live in Morinville with my family, which includes my better half and my two daughters. I, like many people from Morinville, work outside of town in Edmonton and commute 45 minutes each way to do so. I am born and raised in Fort McMurray so have been exposed to a community growing from 10,000 people to over 100,000 people. I have seen what making the right decisions within a community can do for it’s people and what making the wrong ones can do as well.

    While I am not on a fixed income, I can appreciate that being on a fixed income is difficult. The cost of living, traditionally, hasn’t decreased, it has nearly always increased. In fact, according to the government of Canada, since the mid-fifties, the CPi has always increased year over year. With that in mind, it tells me that like it or not, we will continue to see it cost more to live as citizens and that the cost of doing business for the town will also increase. As the population increases here in Morinville we will continue to see an increase in the usage of the town’s services, an increase in the request for funding by groups that try to provide services to the community and an increase in the need for new buildings and infrastructure within the community. In order to fund these things, Morinville must collect money to pay for them. While some can, and should, be collected through user fees, we must still remember that the town bears some responsibility for the overall health and welfare of the citizens of Morinville and also must ensure that user fees are competitive enough that people do not drive to St. Albert to use their facilities.

    On your last point, I will say that you are wrong. I am not backing any side in a town versus city debate right now. I am not informed enough on the benefits or consequences of doing it. What my last paragraph said was, as you pointed out, we must decide what direction we should take the town as far as the “bedroom community” debate so that we can portray Morinville to new potential new residents correctly.

    As I look around Morinville, I see a beautiful community with a great story, with fantastic programs for children and adults, and with great people. As the town has grown, so has the council. Their budget, to me, is fiscally prudent and supports the town as most of our citizens desire. Again, I applaud council for their dedication to the town and I look forward to the 2013 municipal elections where I hope the debate about bedroom community versus regional hub is discussed and a direction is decided.

    Rob

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