Archive for ◊ January, 2009 ◊

25 Jan 2009 Study Session Jan 30 – 31
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With the Steinbach city council study session happening shortly we received our reading package.  Again a thick, busy read as one gets there mind around all the different issues.

A large portion of our discussions will focus on what is next.  We have man dollar issues as costs continue to rise, much of it due to our exponential growth over the last 10 years.  Our infrastructure, while in good shape, needs constant upgrade and additions to ensure we stay on top of it.

Three large expansion projects (the 3 L’s) loom in the near future, the Library, Lagoon and Landfill.  Each is a part of our growth.  

The Library is the busiest in the province just consider these numbers, since 2001 our number of books has increased by 42%, our memberships by 71%, our revenue increase of 39% and operating expenses by 24%.  Provincially the numbers continue to show us as the busiest in the Manitoba.  The MB Public Library Stats show

  • Steinbach ranked 13th on the Municipal Levy per cap @ $15.19 the Prov ave is $22.65. 
  • Our circulation (percent of books out) is tops at 22.1% with the Prov ave at 8.6%
  • our book turnover rate is 2.96 (number of books our members take our each year) with the Prov ave at 2.4
  • our gate count was at 118,700 last year ranking third in the prov where the ave stands at 19,623

Our Lagoon is a concern.  We recently applied for a 2/3rds grant to cover the approximate cost of 10.4 million dollar expansion.  Playing into this is that our lagoon capacity, at current new construction rates, will by too small by 2011.  Then add on that the community of Mitchell wants to add on the life span of our facility is closer than 2011.  If we don’t expand the lagoon we will be in the same position as other municipalities in the Province that haven’t expanded, no new construction. 

Our landfill requires an additional cell as it too requires expanding.  The facility currently has a lifespan of approx 20 years.  One positive is that the landfill brings in additional revenues as we are a Regional facility.

The three L’s are our largest dollar wise.  But the discussion will focus on our capital improvements we need to make as part of ongoing upkeep to our water & sewer, streets, sidewalks and drainage programs.

It will be interesting!

07 Jan 2009 2009 a new year of debate
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Well 2009 has started and we have had our first council meeting and our winter study session is coming up at the end of January.  It will be a good session as we debate the different issues effecting Steinbach.  I haven’t received our package yet but I would assume some of the debate will be around the following issues.

  • residential taxes, to increase the mill rate or hold, my opinion is that we need to hold off on a tax rate increase.  The economic situation is strong in the southeast and Manitoba but it will catch us as we all tighten our purse strings because of what is happening around the world
  • business tax increase from .5% to .75%, anyway one looks at this it is a tax increase.  We have had busniness sign a petition thru the Chamber of Commerce to increase the tax by a 1/4% as long as the total amount is forwarded to the Chamber.  My opinion is it is still a tax increase and at this point would vote against it
  • capital projects, while there are many on the list it is tough to prioritize the list so it best serves our community and it’s growth, the biggest ticket items are the landfill and lagoon
  • somewhere on the horizon is the multiplex including a curling club, performing arts centre, arena and conference centre
  • should all make for an interesting weekend

I am excited that we have applied for the 2012 Manitoba Summer Games, the last time we applied was in the early 1990’s and lost out to Morden – Winkler.  Our community is due for this type of event.

Speaking of community events the Allan Cup is only a couple of months away and it is the best hockey in Canada at the Senior level. 

The Library expansion had an $800,000 debenture approved at our last meeting.  This moves the project forward as we now wait to hear from the Provincial and Federal levels if they support our expansion project as well.

Man I hope it starts to warm up soon.