Election wishlist

Well, we have our list of contenders now for the mayor’s chair and seats on council.

Well, we have our list of contenders now for the mayor’s chair and seats on council.

And what a list it is with four for mayor and 13 for council.

Given the number of candidates and the fact there are quite a few new faces, I suspect many people, like myself, will be looking to next Thursday’s Chamber of Commerce all-candidates meeting to help them decide who’s going to get their vote.

For my part, I am going to be listening for commitments in three areas in particular:

 

 

 

Unsightly premises:

This has been an issue for years.

During which time the city has continued to beat up on people for not cutting their grass to its satisfaction while – outside of forming a task force – doing zilch about the real eyesores in the community.

Meanwhile in the last couple of years Prince Rupert has cracked down big time, ordering not just demolitions but also requiring one downtown business to spruce up its dilapidated exterior.

If it can be done there, it can be done here.

 

 

 

Tax breaks for businesses

upgrading their premises:

As I have pointed out several times before, under the Community Charter local governments can designate areas where renovations qualify for a tax break.

The way it works is this: normally, if a business makes improvements it gets dinged with an increase in assessed value and therefore pays higher city taxes.

Under this program, those businesses, regardless of their increase in assessed value, would pay taxes based on the pre-improvement valuation for up to 10 years – it’s up to council to set the number of years.

Terrace did this for its downtown core, setting a $50,000 minimum spending on an upgrade for a five year tax break.

Five businesses to date have taken advantage of it. Together their improvement spending has totalled $2.8 million.

If it can be done there, it can be done here.

 

 

 

City spending:

During the past six years we have lost Methanex and Eurocan yet the city keeps spending as if we still had three industries.

Sure, it cut residential taxes by 11 per cent this year. But it had hiked them 20 per cent the previous year so our rate has gone up an average of 4.5 per cent in each of the last two years.

And that is more than inflation.

Any candidate that calls for a freeze in the city’s operational budgets in 2012 will have my immediate attention.

Note I say operational budgets.

Trying to hold the line on spending by cutting back on much needed capital expenditures like roads, sidewalks and sewers would, in my view, be short sighted and unacceptable.

Plus I am utterly convinced that an operational freeze could be instituted without any noticeable impact.

Like a regular writer of letters to the editor, I will be watching and listening.

And hoping.

Malcolm Baxter

 

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