Councillors have the privilege of learning a lot of information that is not always translated into press releases and public information posts. Below are the top 10 reasons that I am supporting the project to move forward to the Detailed Design stage.
- The primary reason I am supporting this project is because we are getting a high quality $70M facility with only $15M of debt. I don’t believe we will ever get that sweet of a deal in the future. Edson has worked hard to save $20M for the project and we are in a great position to capitalize on a fantastic opportunity.
- We are extremely lucky to have a cooperative County that will cost share 50:50. When I travel the province speaking to other town and city councillors they are amazed that we have a County willing to cost share on both the capital and operational budgets; this is extremely rare in the province. With a change in County Council this fall, the stars may never align like this again.
- If our Revenue Sharing agreement with the County and our annual MSI grant from the province continue as-is, we could save $15M to cover the debt within a few years of the project’s completion. We are not guaranteed those external funds so we have to prepare our tax payers for the scenario of the $205 tax increase (on average) to pay off the debt.
- There are still several opportunities to reduce the overall cost of the project. Although the majority of the latest survey of taxpayers did not identify project cost as a concern, Council is still committed to cut costs through corporate sponsorship, federal/provincial grants, phased development, and plain-old feature/service cuts to the design. Council is actively and sincerely exploring all of these opportunities while maintaining the quality of the project.
- There are still opportunities to reduce the impact on tax payers. The latest survey states that half of tax payers do not support the project, primarily due to its impact on taxes. We could adjust fees so a greater proportion of the operational costs are born by the actual users instead of by tax-payers. On the other hand, half of our population are not tax payers (youth and renters) who highly contribute to the community, and want and deserve quality facilities.
- Our tax rate is one of the lowest rates in western Alberta. Any argument that residents are excessively taxed, or will leave the community for cheaper tax rates in other towns is unfounded.
- Study after study for almost 20 years have clearly said the facility would benefit our community and our economy. Likewise, surveys have stated that our economy is bottle-necked because of its lack of facilities and ability to draw new talent and industries to the community.
- Inflation is increasing and the cost of a facility will never be lower. I believe a major construction project will help stimulate the economy and we will be able to procure materials and labour at its cheapest rate in Alberta.
- The town is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars every year repairing facilities at the end of their lifespan. These are shorts-sighted band-aide solutions to keep the Repsol facility operational while our residents grumble about the pool and rinks.
- Last but not least, I ran my election campaign on the need for a new facility. I believe myself and other councillors were clearly elected on that promise and we should carefully proceed with informed decisions toward that goal.
Obviously the Detailed Design may show that this facility is financial unfeasible or geo-technically impossible and my support may change. I promise to keep an open mind going forward and to look at all the evidence when placing my vote to improve the community. I look forward to hearing from everyone with your comments, questions, and concerns.