Council’s fiscal priorities confused

How fitting it is that city council gets yet another raise while simultaneously raising our taxes.

How fitting it is that city council gets yet another raise while simultaneously raising our taxes.

Even in years of severe economic downturn like the 2008-2009 oilpatch crash and financial crisis, they continued to raise taxes, not missing a beat in overspending, despite the fact that many, many people went up to a year without employment.

Things are just now getting on their feet and council continues like the taxpayers of this city have bottomless wallets.

Even as our city faces a debt burden of roughly $ 240 million, they are trying to push through a $90-million Olympic-sized swimming pool that will almost certainly run into cost overruns.

City councils in the past have quite a history of large capital legacy projects and it seems like each council is trying to outdo the last one so they can claim bragging rights to say “I built that.”

They have recently listed figures of how many less swimmers per lane the cities of Medicine Hat and Lethbridge have in their city pools, compared to Red Deer, in an attempt to justify that another $90-million expenditure is necessary to the well-being of the city.

I would also like to suggest one other thing those cities have that we don’t and that is adequate roadways for their populations, both having 22 per cent less vehicles per roadway lane than Red Deer.

Our city has nearly doubled in size in the last 24 years and we have done next to nothing to expand our city streets to accommodate that growth. The one and only thing we have really done is the addition of Taylor Drive after the railway tracks were removed from the heart of the city.

We had a spectacular opportunity about two years ago when they stripped 32nd Street down to bare gravel and rebuilt it from the dirt up, to expand it by adding extra lanes, but we didn’t. We simply rebuilt it into exactly what it was before.

So at some point they will have to re-do something that could and should have been done then, so in effect wasting yet more taxpayer dollars.

Wasting over a million dollars on bike lanes and shrinking double lane streets down to single lane streets and then putting them back again is another prime example of the lack of foresight and planning that goes on year after year while they continue to raise our taxes to pay for it.

If the current city council wants to leave behind yet another big-dollar legacy that they can gaze at with pride in coming years, I suggest that they make it the removal of our city’s debt.

Let’s pay off our bills first before we start spending hundreds of millions more on yet another high-profile project.

Duke Hanson

Red Deer

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