City council’s priorities skewed
Is this city council bound and determined to max out their credit before the next election in eight weeks time? Am I the only person in Red Deer fielding calls of concerns, having conversations with worried citizens? Is there an alternate universe that only exists in the downtown core; that have streets of gold and wine flowing from taps that the rest of us who are paying the bills, cannot see?
We are constantly spending money on events, festivals and activities that benefit the few, but are just expenses and inconveniences to the majority of Red Deer citizens. I know these events look great on a mayor’s and councillors’ resumes, but do they quantifiably enhance people’s lives? Is there any information or study that shows what the returns are for our money?
We have spent an inordinate amount of money on traffic studies yet we can change things on a whim or at the behest of a councillor or special interest group. We hire consultants to tell us which roads need repair. An unnecessary expense if we had councillors representing our neighbourhood. If we had a ward system, then our ward’s councillor would know the conditions of our infrastructure.
The ward system is the ballot box question this year but it will not be implemented before the next election in four years, and I see no desire from the dozens of candidates to disclose in what quarter of the city they live.
There were two councillors who did not live south of the river or east of Gaetz Avenue but they are not running again, so for all we know the next council including the mayor could all be living in the southeast quadrant. I am hoping that the newspapers will print or at least ask the candidates what quadrant they live in with 50th Street and 50th Avenue being the centre. Will the candidates say whether they live north or south of 50th Street and west or east of 50th Avenue?
Now we need to go back to fiscal responsibilities. There is a fine line here and we do not want to go to the extreme and in this regard we do need a mayor who can keep the city from extreme expenditures or extreme austerity.
This is important, as the issue of legacies has a huge influence on our expenditures and given the human nature and egos of most politicians, and the fact that the politicians control the purse strings that decide the size of the monuments to themselves, fiscal responsibility is paramount.
According to the concerns expressed to me, we have been wasteful in many areas, sidewalks, roads, bike lanes, to name but a few, and the downtown expenses have been the biggest black hole for tax dollars. Some people have grandiose dreams for the downtown that have most people rolling their eyes and wondering about that alternate universe. I have had possibly a thousand conversations with concerned citizens I think I only talked with one person who thought we should do more for downtown.
Our credit does have a ceiling and it does have a cost and we need to consider the cost benefit ratio for everyone and not just the few. Just because we can spend it, do we really need to spend it? Will my property taxes pay the interest on monuments, legacies and self-serving expenses of a few? Will my grandchildren be paying for the expenses so a few will have legacies and a few others can capitalize and profit, today?
Will this council handicap the next council; will they leave the city unable to cope with any future infrastructure deterioration, and/or natural occurrence or disaster?
Will the city council remember the ordinary citizen and stop thinking about grandiose dreams and fix the little things that are causing distress for so many? Did they hear about Detroit?
Do they have a champagne taste but only a beer budget? I wonder.