Guest Editorial: mayoral candidate Lloyd Bertschi

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– Stephen Dafoe

As the Mayor of Morinville for the next three years I believe the top three priorities need to be:

ONE: Sensible financial management.

The Town has come a very long way to becoming financially sustainable over the past number of years. We have been diligently putting funds into reserves to ensure our long term viability. I believe the days of huge tax increases to “catch up” are behind us and that we can keep tax increases at the rate of inflation.

TWO: Provide a Safe Community.

I believe it is imperative for us to provide a safe community for our families. Protective services, including the RCMP, Peace Officers and our Volunteer Fire Department is the second highest cost in our budget. Money well spent. We maintain one RCMP officer per 1,000 people in our community. As Mayor I will continue to support this ratio. We have recently changed our enforcement services from By Law Officers to Peace Officers that will help maintain a safe community.

I believe we need to have a well trained and properly equipped volunteer fire department. I completely understand the challenges faced by our volunteers and have clearly demonstrated my support for our Fire Department. As Mayor for the next three years, that will not change.

THREE: Maintain our current infrastructure.

I believe our water and sewer utilities should be self-supporting and not subsidized from the property taxes. This does result in higher water and sewer charges when compared to most Municipalities. However, we are among only 8% of municipalities across North America that have a long term fully funded plan to maintain and replace our utility infrastructure ensuring safe secure drinking water.
I absolutely believe if we are to be a viable community in the future these three priorities need to be at the top of the list. As your Mayor for the next three years they will be!

So where do we go from here…

ONE: Our current 90/10 residential/non-residential tax split is unsustainable in the long term. In the 2010 budget the Town Council allocated monies to fund the creation of an economic development strategy. As your Mayor this strategy will not sit on a shelf and gather dust. The time for talk is over … it is time for action. We will hire an Economic Development Officer to implement the strategies identified in the research.

TWO: We currently have no serviced industrial land in Morinville of any consequence. Even if a company came to us and said they wanted to build a 100,000 sq ft building and employ 100 people we have no place to put them. I believe we should investigate acquiring some land adjacent to our existing business park and actively seek a private sector partner to service it.

THREE: Re-institute our commercial / industrial tax incentive program. Previously we gave a rebate of 50% of the property tax in the first year, 30% the second and 20% in the third year. This tax incentive program was also available to existing businesses in Town that expanded their buildings. In my opinion, it is better to have a reduced percentage of new non-residential property tax dollars in the short term than 100% of nothing.

The Town has a very solid foundation established and there is no doubt in my mind that a comprehensive economic diversification strategy with the resources to implement it needs be one of the top priorities of the new council. As your Mayor for the next three years…it will be!

Lastly I would like to introduce a 3 point plan to build our community.
ONE During this campaign I have joined face book. One of my new “friends” asked me what my plans are for providing entertainment for our youth and immediately a number of my other new friends made suggestions as to what they would like to see. Given that incredible response I suggested to him that as Mayor, I would establish a task force on youth issues and asked if he would like to be the co-chair. He agreed immediately and a great number of others have also asked to participate. A great approach. A strategy to address youth issues developed by the youth.

TWO My wife Lisa is the Manager of the seniors lodge in Morinville. I am well aware of the challenges facing our seniors when they are facing negative health affects and need to leave the lodge. A long term care facility is on the drawing board and is certainly needed to keep the folks that built our community in our community.

THREE: Much has been said during this campaign about the development of additional community amenities. I agree that to build a complete community to attract residents and businesses to Morinville we need to have additional facilities. We do have a conceptual plan to create a facility similar to Servus Place in St. Albert. As your Mayor for the next three years I will support taking that conceptual plan to an architect to do a complete design of the facility that includes a second ice sheet, a pool, an indoor soccer pitch and a field house that is integrated with our existing arena. Completing the design will allow us to develop a long term financial strategy to build it using a phased approach.

A three point plan that should serve as the backbone to building our community. As your Mayor for the next three years…it will be!
Ladies and Gentlemen it has been a tremendous privilege for me to be your Mayor for the past 9 years. My commitment, dedication, and passion for making Morinville one the best communities in this Province is still burning. My experience, respectful and decisive approach makes me the best choice to be your Mayor for the next three years.

For a positive voice, On Monday October 18th vote Lloyd Bertschi for Mayor. I will not let you down!

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