Happy 2012 everyone! I hope all of you enjoyed a great Christmas and holiday season! New Year's is a time for making resolutions and to get enthusiastic about a better year ahead. I am grateful to have earned your support this past year and my resolution is to continue the hard work and get even better at representing your views as we move ahead.
Speaking of beginnings, on Jan. 14 at noon, residents who would like to speak to me should come out to the Parkland Community Hall for the very first Aldertalk session. Aldertalk is an informal opportunity for anyone in Ward 14 who would like a face to face discussion with me without travelling all the way downtown. I will be hosting Aldertalk on the second or third Saturday of every month and hopefully will be rotating to each of the community halls in Ward 14 if facilities are available. The Parkland Community has graciously offered their hall for the first Aldertalk and they are located at 505 Parkvalley Road S.E. I look forward to seeing you!
I'm pleased to see people are becoming familiar with the Snow Event P1 and P2 road clearing plans! I strongly suggest that if you haven't done so by now, you might want to subscribe for e-mail alert notifications of when snow event parking restrictions are going into effect. If you are really technology savvy, you might want to download an app which will tell you on your smartphone in real time what is happening with snow plows. Also, please call 311 if you have concerns or questions because Roads will be tracking your calls to look for hotspots or pinch points. This is a work in progress so alterations may need to happen in various locations.
In other news, we have now been informed that the two surplus school sites in Ward 14 are being transferred to the Francophone School Board: Deer Ridge at Yellow Slide Park and Midnapore near Father Lacombe Centre. It will be exciting to learn from the School Board exactly what is planned for them.
Also, a big win for Ward 14 that you may have not heard about: the 22x Macleod Trail overpass construction should begin 2012-13 and be finished in 2014. Clearly, this is a big project for us. I am delighted to have been involved and to see it finally moving ahead.
Last November, Council approved the three-year budget plan, which resulted in a higher tax increase than I wanted. I voted against this budget. I campaigned as Alderman on low taxes and zero based budgeting. I am committed to that promise.
I feel very strongly that there are savings to be had and efficiencies to be found in City expenditures, and so decided NOT to support the proposed tax increases and therefore NOT support the overall budget. Sadly, I was one of only two on Council to say no.
The result of that vote translates to a residential tax increase of 6% this year, 5.6% in 2013 and 6.1% in 2014 - nearly 18% over the next three years. This is roughly $240 in total for the average household. I strongly feel that this is not acceptable, especially for seniors on fixed incomes. Also troublesome to me is it's about five times this amount for the average small business as well, since so much of The City's taxes have been transferred onto small businesses expecting them to just pass the costs along to you by raising their prices. This effectively makes all businesses tax collectors by proxy and I don't know of too many businesses who are expecting big increases in revenues over the next three years to help them pay for this.
At the end of the day, it will all come out of your pockets one way or another. It is time The City stops trying to be all things to everyone, focus on our core responsibilities and recognize world economic realities.
That's it for now. If you have any questions or concerns please call me at 403-268-1653 or contact my office.
This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.