A lot went on at city hall this week. Here are some thoughts on what happened in a busy week in local politics.
Thumbs up to Evert Botha and Lee Atkinson.
When the Daily Herald requested to observe a judicial recount into the tight Ward 3 race, both candidates indicated their support. The city solicitor had no issue with the paper being in the room either.
Thumbs down to Justice Meschishnick for ruling against us despite the candidates’ support.
Thumbs up to the city for wanting to deal with citizens who feel they have been wronged, either with an unfair parking ticket or another issue.
Thumbs down to the solution – a $4,000 pot of money allocated to the mayor for his discretion. Without a set of guidelines or accountabilities in place, this pot of money could be a cause for controversy ahead.
While the traditional means of resolution do take time, they ensure everyone is treated fairly. What happens money runs out before year end?
No, councillors should not be paying out of pocket, but this half-baked plan didn’t receive the proper time to consider and discuss its potential impacts, and could be a mistake.
Thumbs up to the city for recognizing the growing tax burden placed on residents. The news yesterday that the increase would only be 1.5 per cent is welcome.
Thumbs down though for using a portion of a previous year’s surplus to pay for an increase in the police budget. The money will be used in part to pay salaries – an operating cost. A surplus is a one-time funding resource. It should not be used to pay for a recurring expense.
Citizens may see the difference a year from now, if the province keeps cutting and the city has less money. If that surplus does not exist next year, that entire increase will fall to taxpayers.
Surpluses should be for one-time spending, such as infrastructure.
The surplus could have funded the Kinsmen Pool repairs, instead of going to cover a cost that will come back next year, when that money will no longer be present.
Thumbs up to the mayor’s efforts to end partisanship at city hall. It’s honourable to want to ensure councillors are looking after the good of the whole city.
Thumbs down to looking at getting rid of the ward system. Councillors should work together through the building of compromise. Wards make voting easier, as you’re choosing from a smaller pool, and selecting just one, instead of what Moose Jaw saw – voters trying to pick six out of a pool of 23.
Wards also ensure citizens in different areas of the city know who they can turn to for help.
Without a dedicated councillor for their neighbourhood, it would be harder to have their voices heard.