Red Deer First responds to column about pamphlet’s claims
Re: Putting Red Deer first, a column by Greg Neiman in the Advocate on Oct. 10:
By way of fairness, please allow me to make a few comments on your comments relating to your opinion piece published October 10, 2013.
Readers should note if they haven’t seen the Red Deer First pamphlet, that only numbers are stated. No detail is included. Therefore, it is Mr. Neiman who is assuming we are trying to make the numbers look bad. If people draw that conclusion, then they are doing it on their own not through any eloquent persuasion on our part.
Water tower paint, cost $750,000: As a journalist you may want to do your homework. You state the tower plays a significant role in our water delivery system. The city tells us it is empty and not in use. Nor are there any near future plans to use it. So you might see how refurbishing a piece of unused infrastructure to the amount of $750,000 would cause some questions. I agree that it is iconic. I suppose if we viewed it solely as a display of our identity there may be some way to justify the expense, but then why spend another $85,000 to try and find a new municipal identity?
New civic yards, cost $120 million: In your opinion you ask for specifics regarding deliberate waste. I can’t do that because the city claims there is no waste.
I can give you my opinion, or you could ask the opinion of any citizen who drives by. I am sure all of us could point out the excesses to you. Or perhaps ask some of the fine people who work across the street in their functional utilitarian and cost effective buildings if they think their tax dollars were well spent on the project. I have. Their opinion is very different than yours.
It would be one thing if it was a new City Hall, but for a place where equipment is stored and maintained, even you would you must admit it is palatial.
While giving us a tour, the city has stated that they are already outgrowing the location. So, it may be vacant for when the college grows into a university within the next few years as you predict. It would make a lovely second campus and require virtually no renovation.
Old civic yards, value $0: You are correct in saying the old civic yard location is a diamond quality piece of property. However, we will likely only get a cubic zirconia quality price for it.
By the time the city pays for demolition, decontamination, power line relocation and makes some expensive changes to the Ross Street and Taylor Drive intersection to improve accessibility, there will be no money to be made on the deal at all. The city has stated as much to us.
Ross Street Taylor Drive rebuild, $17 million: I agree pedestrian traffic is the main concern. Vehicles seem to be moving through the intersection well enough.
I wonder if there could be a cheaper more pedestrian specific way to connect to the Riverlands area without a costly traffic focused remodel. Perhaps a simple pedestrian bridge would suffice? That may be too new or unique for the city. Wait — there is already a good example of this about a minute north of this exact intersection.
Of course, without major construction there would be no improved access to the old public yards site. So, does this expense truly for our citizens or some future land developer?
North connector ring road and bridge, cost ?: Thanks for mentioning it in your opinion. We would have added to the pamphlet but we couldn’t get an accurate value and to be honest we were running out of space.
Red Deer’s projected debt: $241 million: You state that the city’s debt was $199.1 million as of June 30, 2013. That is exactly six months into the year. You must realize the problem with this accounting methodology. Are you actually expecting the city not to initiate any capital projects for the remaining six months of the year? It’s possible what with it being an election year, and all.
More likely though is that $199.1 million will grow significantly before year end. Our number was an actual 2013 year-end debt projection stated by the city in April of this year. It was also posted in your paper. It’s likely that the year-end debt will not be exactly $241 million since it was only a projection. I am certain, however, that it will be significantly more than $199.1 million.
Red Deer’s future: Red Deer is a wonderful and beautiful city that attracts hundreds of diverse citizens every year. Our location is the very advantage we’ve relied on to sustain us so far. Continuous demographic growth props up our ability to continue with our current debt load and that of our future.
While I pray that our city’s prosperity continues, anyone having lived in Alberta will tell you that things can change quickly and not always for the better. Only a well managed and responsibly utilized debt strategy will protect our taxpayers, and more importantly those on low or fixed incomes, if our growth ever fails.
I believe Red Deer has unlimited potential as a community. All we need is a sustainable financial model to ensure we have the future finances and resources we require when we need them.
I would like to see a Red Deer where what we build now will not be paid for by our children.
I would like to see a Red Deer where my taxes don’t increase beyond the cost of living.
I would like to see a Red Deer where the entirety of the city is the priority, not legacy infrastructure or special interest projects.
Yes, Mr. Neiman, I would like to see Red Deer come first and for that to happen there does indeed need to be a change!
I believe we will see just that next Monday.
Red Deer First candidate for city council