Dear Mayor Holmes:

You, and anyone who has read my previous letters are quite aware of my personal feelings concerning your leadership skills. Unfortunately, recent assertions attributed to you on a number of issues have only served to confirm my opinion.

Are the chickens only now coming home to roost? I hardly think so…

You have made it appear as though cessation of Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding in 2017 is a real revelation; one which requires a quite radical solution. Sadly, Benjamin Franklin’s adage that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” has never been truer.

Residents of Morinville have sent more than a few letters asking you and your Council what you were going to do when this funding ends. Of course, these were ignored … you didn’t think this could actually occur? All of a sudden we have a new provincial government and the unthinkable has happened. Oil prices and royalties are way down and the Province does not have the money to hand out to municipalities like they did in the past.

Mayor Holmes, I for one remember a presentation at a 2012 budget meeting when a resident asked the following question: “What is your contingency plan if we have an economic meltdown similar to the one in 1985?”

This question, and others like it, was ignored, and we were left with the impression that such an eventuality would never happen.

Well, I guess reality is about to set in: the MSI funding is going to expire in 2017, and there may NOT be a replacement program. There is definitely an economic downturn … might not be as bad as 1985 but it could be even worse if oil prices don’t increase.

So the chickens have come home to roost and what is your solution?

Ah yes, more taxes (I hope you realize that levies are only taxes in disguise).

I read with a great deal of interest the articles in the Edmonton Sun and the Edmonton Journal regarding “Alberta cities, towns push for new local improvement tax levy.” I do agree that the currently proposed option (an off-site levy that would see developers and new homeowners foot some of the bill) will only work in large, fast-growing cities and will not work for the small- to medium-size municipalities.

I want to stress that I do NOT agree with you, in either your capacity as President of AUMA or as Mayor of Morinville, pitching for a levy for a fixed amount to be tied to a specific project for a defined period. Your statement that “Albertans would look at that a little more favourably than just saying we want to increase property taxes generally.” Who do you think you’re speaking for – because you’re definitely not speaking for me! Like all the other professional politicians you seem to forget that there is only one taxpayer, and my pockets are only so deep.

Perhaps if you spent less time gallivanting around the country as President of the AUMA and more time here at home connecting with all of your constituents, you might have a better feel for what those constituents really want!

Election time is definitely coming, and one can only hope that we get a Mayor who truly cares more about our citizens than his or her own political future.

James O’Brien
Morinville

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Well said! The whole council should be thrown out. They do not seem to realize that the residential base cannot support all the crazy things that they do. Some industry is needed to foot part of the tax bill and provide local jobs for residents. A lot more needs to be done such as tax incentives to attract industry. This town has many things that industry requires and this should constantly be pursued. You have addressed the problem and we all should be more vocal on this issue. Keep up the good commentary.

    • Hi Gene,

      Just wanted to point out the fact that Morinville is home to the lowest non-residential tax rate in Alberta’s capital region at just 6.59%. Compare that to Sturgeon County which is at almost 10%, St. Albert at about 12%, and Edmonton at nearly 15%.

      Also good to note is that while we are certainly in a downturn as a province, Council consistently sees new businesses opening up shop in retail space or in homes. Each Council meeting Council receives information on business licensing in town. Morinville is open for business yet.

      As for the crazy things we do, I’m open to hearing your thoughts on past decisions we’ve made that you disagree with in terms of our budgeting. If you could provide some specifics examples, I think that could be helpful going forward.

      Cheers,

      Brennan Fitzgerald,
      Councillor

  2. Mr. O’Brien is spot right on in this well written letter. This province is in a perfect storm and governing bodies need to adjust to the downturn. The mayor, and some councillors, appear to have no concept of this. Like most career politicians they think they have an unlimited supply of taxable income. Mayor, the household debt in Canada is at an all time high. Alberta is in a recession. You cannot keep going to the tax trough, whether it be a levy, or a town tax, or fees any more. Please learn to tighten the spending budget and say “no” because the tax trough is near depleted.

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