A new group representing citizens wants to ensure taxpayers’ dollars are not wasted.
The Red Deer Taxpayers’ Association aims to keep a close eye on city spending to make sure tax dollars are spent efficiently and economically.
President Jason Stephan, a local lawyer and accountant, said Red Deer is a great place to do business and to live but there is always room for improvement.
Stephan said the association wants to be the voice and an advocate for taxpayers and to inform residents that there are better ways to spend.
Charts and data gleamed from the city’s audited financial statements and Statistics Canada paint a picture of city spending over the last 10 years.
“The operating spending growth in our city is out of control,” said Stephan. “There has not been any financial discipline. I work with successful business owners every day. There isn’t that same care and control over taxpayers’ dollars you would see if it was your own money, where in the government, it is someone else’s money.”
The group makes four recommendations on its website to improve the economic and financial management of city’s organization.
They include adopting well-accepted business practices to manage taxpayer dollars, user-pay mechanisms, improve tax competitiveness, and focus spending on the broader community and not on special interests.
“The facts speak for themselves,” said Stephan. “There are a lot of areas for improvement. Our city can be much, much better.”
Stephan said the group aims to have a good working relationship with the newly-elected council in October.
Stephan said the group is not endorsing any of the council candidates in the Oct. 21 civic election but wants voters to cast ballots for those who would be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.
The group formed in early September with five founding members.
“Individuals and families in this city work very hard,” said Stephan. “We’re really blessed with a great city. We want to make sure our tax dollars are used in an economic and efficient way. If they are, there are more available and the resources are there to make our city better than what it is.”
Jason Stephan is the brother of current Red Deer Coun. Chris Stephan, who is not part of the taxpayers group. Chris Stephan is not seeking re-election to council and is taking up residence in Red Deer County.
Go to www.reddeertaxpayers.ca for more information.