Recently, in a letter to the editor, the Mayor attempted to justify increasing our property taxes by 50 to 100 per cent over the next number of years. He indicated our balance sheet is in fine shape. If that is indeed the case, why are they even considering these yearly double digit increases?
The Mayor on a number of occasions has compared our city to Yorkton. If he is going to do so, he should also confirm that Swift Current spent $8 million more than Yorkton in their operating budget in 2013 and that is factoring out our Light and Power utility expenses. That is over $500 more per person our City is spending. As I have stated before, we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem.
The Mayor seems to think operating within our means is "Old School" thinking and those who believe in this way of operating are out of touch with reality. I guess I am guilty, and I certainly am opposed to the "tax, borrow and spend" way of operating of the past 10 years. We, as a city have been doing very well since we came out of bankruptcy in the early 60s. Let's not go back there. I do not understand the need all of a sudden for hitting the taxpayers with these unreasonable increases. Why not reduce our operating expenses, instead of having the large increases in those expenses as we have had in the past number of years. As in our personal lives, we need to balance our wants and our needs and sometimes even our needs are difficult to afford.
When you begin debt financing to 20 or more years, the payments are easy in the first few years, but as you get into it, at the 10 or 15 year mark and you have continually added to the original debt in an ongoing basis, the debt payments become difficult to afford. This is where we are with our City debt.
Just to put our debt in perspective, if we used every tax dollar collected on every property in Swift Current, it would take us 10 years to pay down our existing long term debt, and that is assuming no more borrowing in the meantime. We see others such as our local School Boards and the Cypress Health Region as well as the Provincial Government all working with limited yearly increases and having a balanced budget. In fact the Province has lowered our taxes and at the same time paid down a large portion of the long term debt. We expect our City to also live within its means. Just because the City has the legislated right to set the mill rate as they wish, doesn't mean they should abuse that right.
Don Robinson - Swift Current