Archive for ◊ February, 2010 ◊

03 Feb 2010 To Tax or not to Tax
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This plan represents work completed by administration with direction given by this council. This is the last time this council will work through the budget process from start to completion within it’s current mandate.

When we set to work on this budget during our summer study session, we looked at a variety of issues that faced us as a community
     Issues like increased need for
       -sidewalks & bike paths
       -recreation facilities
       -multi purpose facility
       -infrastructure like lagoon, landfill, water and sewer lines and street upgrades

As a council we discussed the need for the so called soft side or quality of life stuff that has a large cost to our community, but the payback comes in understanding the difficult to measure “quality of life” for our residence.

What I find difficult is the hard growth costs come in the form of infrastructure replacement and expansion like the lagoon, library and landfill requirememts.  These are essential to our community but are under appreciated by our ratepayers because they are unseen, and not a focus, until they have an issue with backup water lines or garbage that isn’t picked up or just can’t get that book that everyone else is reading because of limited shelf space or we need to stop building homes because our lagoon is at it’s limit.

Additionally our cost of doing business increases thru our operations
       -labour, we are now negotiating final settlement on our first union contract, full financial ramifications are not fully known at this time
       -our operating costs continue to climb as we need more staff, more leadership and fuel to run equipment
       -policing costs as we add one more officer in 2010

As a council we do our best to look forward, what will our community look like in the next 5 & 10 years and what will that vision cost our community. 
All the while knowing that limited provincial or federal support in the form of grants will be available to our community that has had one of the fastest and growth rates in Canada.

The price of housing in Steinbach has remained at a high level, but the escalation of pricing seems to have slowed down

Currently we have a fairly positive business climate in the southeast region, but there is still the unknown signs.  All indications are that our economy is starting to recover, by all indications it will be a slow.  

As we heard this plan was started last summer.   Putting all the information together I agree that we need to raise our mil rate. We can’t wait for all federal or provincial grants to pay into all community investments at some point we need to make a decision to manage our community with what resources we have available.
Because we need dollars to
o expand our lagoon
o expand our landfill
o expand our library
o increase our police force
o service our increasing debt load
o we need to manage our long term debt
o need to balance our user fees, making sure that our facilities are available to all
o like each of us puts away for retirement we need to continue to put money into reserves to be used for future projects like recreation facilities
o we need to continue to invest in our active transportation routes
o most of all we need to continue to invest in our community

and more than anything this is a budget that invests in our Community!