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Editorial: City spending

Editor Joan Ritchie's editorial for the week of Sept. 25, 2019
Editorial by Joan Ritchie

One of our journalist reporters covers City Council meetings every time they are scheduled, minus the numerous in-closed-door sessions where the public and media are locked out.   

The Moose Jaw Express/Moose Jaw Today fairly and accurately report the information that is presented to the media in these meetings, as well as we publish numerous letters to the editor and columns reflecting public opinion.

I think the people of Moose Jaw are astute and in-tune enough to see the writing on the wall and make their own decisions as to the pothole-ridden road we are going down…  

Just a few short weeks ago, in a report, the city said that positive economic trends are contributing to an upbeat picture on how the [city] finances are going here in Moose Jaw. The report indicated that the population here is 33,890 and [the city] has reserves of more than $107 million, which means its per capita reserve amount is $3,166.95 (Aug. 28th edition of Moose Jaw Express)…although most of that reserve money has been designated for medium-and long-term investment in the stock market on speculation without a guaranteed return (visit link to story of July 12, 2019 on Moose Jaw Today).

This spring, the City of Moose Jaw doled out huge pay increases to entities in the police service (by contract), fire department (by arbitration), and to the mayor and councillors at City Hall (just because they felt they deserved one)…all of this under the auspices of the city’s coffers.  I am not disputing that some of these positions may warrant a raise but…many of these raises are over-the-top even in comparison to the rate of inflation and with benefit packages that are not sustainable; and many of the wages were already over-the-top prior to the increase, as far as I can see.  

Please note the council articles in this edition (September 25th, 2019) that indicate that city council is proposing an infrastructure tax levy on all taxable properties of $100 and could be implemented next year; as well as the city administration  tentatively suggesting a tax increase to 3.25 per cent to offset expected revenue shortfalls.  These revenue shortfalls are possibly due to the zero population & business growth in the last 60 years here, in opposition to the 15 per cent employment growth at City Hall.

Potentially, proposed on the tax levy, tax increases and all other utility increases, you could possibly see a tax increase of about 8 per cent upcoming.

Where do you think the money will come from for these levies and tax increases?

From the City of Moose Jaw taxpayers of course, and I wonder how many of them have received a substantial wage increase recently to offset their deficits?

A little unbalanced accounting, I think…taking from the pockets of the regular joes to pad the pockets of perceived ‘fat-cats’ who possibly think more highly of themselves than they ought to in decision-making positions.  

I think the city doesn’t have a revenue problem but a spending problem. 

Folks, if you haven’t already figured it out, the economic situation here in Moose Jaw is far from what you are led to believe. People in business in this town have told us that things aren’t as rosy as presumed, and the word on the street is that tourism numbers were down this year, as well.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.