Letter: Business owners not welcome

Dear Editor:

Candidates have it wrong. Red Tape and high taxes are part of the problem why so few businesses move here. But mostly it’s because business owners aren’t welcome. I’ve owned and run a small business in Morinville’s business park for over four years. Each and every time I’ve made inquiries to the town to have something done, I’ve met a stone wall. It’s so arduous to always explain myself over and over again when something isn’t done and speaking to the supervisor becomes necessary. And then it’s not done again and that person’s boss is engaged. And so on and so on. Even with councillors and the town’s Chief Administrative Officer trying to get things done it’s like pulling teeth.

Only one council candidate seems to have a grasp of this. One candidate recognizes that ratepayers should be treated as ratepayers, as customers whom the town strives to serve. As it is we feel like we’re getting in the way of town employees performing their jobs (in fact pleasing us IS their job). I’ve seen businesses willing to move here and bring millions of development dollars and dozens of jobs, only to be discouraged dealing with town staff. I don’t blame them. If this treatment continues, not only will businesses fail to move here; existing businesses will move out. We (the business owners) all know other municipalities that are open for business and will welcome us with open arms. Don’t be surprised if our incoming town council and mayor are fluff-speakers and fail to turn around this trend. If that happens, you can be sure the town’s tax base will suffer greatly in the coming years.

A concerned citizen

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  1. First of all, I really hope that in addition to being a business owner, you are also a Morinville VOTER. Secondly, if you ARE a voter, PLEASE come out to the All-Candidates Forum on the 15th.

    Thirdly, please contact me at jgobrien@telus.net and we can have a coffee and swap horror stories!

    You obviously hold out SOME hope – you’re still here after four obviously frustrating years…

  2. Good Letter – well said! We know exactly how you feel as we have tried to deal with Council and Administration on several issues and seems like no one hears you.
    Linda and Cliff

  3. To A Concerned Citizen,

    You are not alone. I have spoken to friends, neighbors and contractors in the past two years, feet dragging and red tape seem to be a huge problem for this town. To the point where they are willing to lose huge sums of money and give up on their projects. One souce even asked me what i would do in their situation, just give up or keep wading in the political bog.
    Hopefully this election will eradicate some of the feet dragging. I for one will not vote for a single incumbent in this election!!!

  4. I cannot begin express how frustrating my experiences have been with both Administration and Council over the last few years.

    I have had enough and will not be voting for a single incumbent during this election for Council. For Mayor I will be voting for an established candidate with experience running a business. A business person may not be the warmest or friendliest person but given our current situation we need someone who knows how to balance a budget and make the unpopular decisions that benefit the long term health and stability of this community.

    The level of spending in proportion to our tax increases over the past few years has been unsustainable and no one thought to put the breaks on until our reserve funds got down to $8000 (or $1 per resident if you will). Using reserves to fund operations is similar to using your savings account to pay a mortgage you can’t afford to pay with your monthly salary. Eventually your savings account will run out and you will be house poor! Morinville is house poor and the only way to fix that is to cut services and raise taxes.A well run Municipality should have a good balance of social and financial health and right now Morinville does not have that balance.

    Anyone who doubts this should spend some time reviewing the Financial Statements from over the last few years.

    Note: Kind of funny that there has been little talk of Budget 2014 in the press or around Council meetings… Perhaps the plan is to keep the budget under wraps until after the election when the public have no choice but to swallow the bad news?

    I’m a current small business owner who runs a business out of my house. A couple years ago I looked in to buying and starting a franchise outlet in Morinville and the response I got back from the company was that they have tried with other interested parties to open in Morinville before but that the red tape wasn’t worth their time. They politely informed me that they were not interested in having a franchise in Morinville despite the fact that it was a good market.

    I can’t wait for the forum on Oct 15th!

  5. yes indeed it’s the same being a home owner in Morinville when I called about some concerns I had all I got was the run around ,, Public Works has got terrible the last few years , Hope the New Council gets things in order

  6. We the Morinville and District Chamber of Commerce are here to serve our members and those who foster business growth in Morinville.
    I would encourage you to visit our office or call me directly to deal with the issues at hand.

    Simon Boersma
    Morinville and District Chamber of Commerce

  7. Usually I don’t truck with anonymous writers, but in this case I can certainly appreciate why the initial letter writer and ANON2 prefer not to divulge their names.

    I would be interested in hearing what, if anything, our Chamber of Commerce has been able to do to alleviate problems encountered by our business community.

    Unfortunately I doubt that the Chamber would, except as a spin-off, be able to help the ordinary citizen who encounters exactly the same bureaucratic bullshit which is stifling businesses in Morinville.

    PLEASE attend the All-Candidate Forum on the 15th at the Cultural Center and, for heaven’s sake – get out and vote on the 21st!

  8. I’m not a business owner, but I’ve successfully managed budgets a lot (over 20 times) higher than the town’s, so please don’t make that an essential requirement for office. Managing a business budget may help, but the Town is not a business, nor should it be run exclusively like one. For example, programs don’t always make money, but they are a cost of doing “business.” Making smart fiscal decisions is not a skill held by business owners alone.

    I have also run into the red tape mentioned just to do home foundation repairs. After more than a few weeks of miscommunications, misunderstandings and general annoyance, I managed to get my permit and get the work done. But it was not as easy as it should have been. The administration needs to change how it does business. Dealing with the Town administration shouldn’t be a chore or leave you with the feeling that someone did you a favour. Case in point, it took two years to fix our horrible website and it still has errors!

    I agree with the comments on the depletion of our town’s reserves and have said the same thing. By approving the use of $798,000 of our reserves in the current year budget, the current council has put the pressure on the new one before they even start. To make matters worse, next year’s budget is due in December and it will be approved by mostly new councillors who have no idea of why things were done and have to learn on the fly. I really hope that someone in the crowd asks the incumbents what they were thinking when they approved that. I’m sure that the amount of reserves used is pretty close to the cost overrun for the Civic Plaza had something to do with it.

  9. There is a huge difference between capital and operating reserves. I would ask all candidates and residents to look at the entire budget and not cherry pick one area to present arguements in isolation. It is horribly misleading and not fair to those who do not have the time to do the proper research. The Town has significantly more dollars in reserve that $1.00 per capita. In fact, I would argue we ARE one of the most financially sustainable and balanced communmities in the Province for the long term.

  10. How will the Town support it’s Capital projects long term if there is no money in Operating? Taxes of course…

    Bottom line is that you can rave about the health of the town’s capital reserves but at the end of the day it takes operating funds to manage completed capital projects (or at least it does to do it properly).

    The ongoing operating costs to run the CCC are a prime example of this. There was a big rush to build this facility but now we’re all shocked that it costs almost $800,000 a year to run it.

    Had the choice been given to build the CCC with the stipulation that it would cost almost $800,000 a year in Operating costs to run do you think the residents of Morinville would have been in favor? I’d argue that we could have built a pool and operated it for the same or less per year than what the CCC current costs.

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