This is going to be one helluva busy Monday at city hall. And Tuesday will be busier still. There are back-to-back council meetings and the agendas are looooo-o-o-ong. Here are some highlights….
Monday, April 26
CITY COUNCIL (5:30 pm): The Recreation Facility Plan will be looked at and delegations from the Neil Balkwill Centre and the Regina Art Gallery will speak in support of a planned expansion of their facility. Also considering a recommendation to establish Queen Elisabeth II Court, Gordon Park and Al Pickard Park as pesticide free parks, and at setting aside funds for the enforcement of bylaws controlling open air fires.
Council will also have to deal with the (much) higher than expected tender results for the City Square Project (aka the Wow Project). Joe Couture at the Leader Post runs through what happened here very well. In short: surprise, surprise, the companies bidding on the City Square Project came in waaaaa-a-a-ay above what city admin were projecting. Possible reasons include the fact that the construction market is kind of crazy in booming Regina and the costs of building anything these days is skyrocketing.
Domed stadium proponents, take note of that.
A decision on what to do about the City Square Project will be tabled until council’s next meeting. Which, as it happens, is the following night so you won’t have to wait long to find out.
Lots more, like how much Pat Fiacco spent on his re-election campaign and who’s coming out to crank about the property tax hike, after the jump.…
Candidate campaign expenses and expenditures from last year’s election are also on the agenda, along with lists of where their funding came from. In case you’re wondering, Mayor Fiacco spent about $43,000 on his campaign and his big funders (ie, those contributing $1,000 each) were Regina Motor Products, Bison Properties Ltd, Mitchell Developments Ltd, Hardeep Madhur and North Prairie Developments. You can find out what everybody else spent and where they got their money by downloading the meeting agenda and checking out report IR10-3.
Later, Councillor Clipsham will be presenting a motion to have the mayor write a letter to the Premier asking him to reconsider his decision on SCN. And there will be lots more besides — like rink and cemetery fees going up — but you’ll have to read about all that for yourself.
Tuesday, April 27
CITY COUNCIL (5:30 pm): Budgets, budgets and more budgets. As you all should know by now, mill rates are on the rise this year and people are, by and large, none too happy about it.
The city is proposing a 4.5 per cent mill rate increase. The library is asking for a 2.9 per cent increase. And the Warehouse Business Improvement District is asking for a 0.8809 per cent increase.
The Association of Regina Realtors and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business will be on hand to argue against the property tax boosts. No surprise there. Still… their submissions raise a pet peeve of mine.
Both groups whinge about how the city’s spending is increasing this year faster than the rate of inflation. Both groups demand that city spending be held to the rate of inflation plus population growth.
Sounds fine. Sounds like a logical request. Sounds like the kind of thing that’ll get heads nodding among the general public. Too bad that in reality it’s completely crackers.
The inflation rate a city faces is not the same inflation rate you or I face. They’re based on different baskets of goods. When’s the last time you had to buy asphalt or concrete by the tonne? When’s the last time you bought a bus? And when’s the last time you had to hire a crane and a construction crew?
Municipal spending, then, often exceeds the inflation rate you hear about on BNN because the cost of the stuff cities buy and the services they need to hire are going up faster than general consumer goods. It’s as simple as that. And the higher-than-expected bids on the City Square project are a perfect example.
The ARR and the CFIB should know better.
And as for tying spending to population growth… again, more stupidity. Cities don’t just base their spending on how many people are already in the city. They have to spend to accommodate future population growth. Once more: the CFIB and the ARR (especially) should know this. In fact, in both cases, I suspect they do but will say whatever if it’ll whip up public opposition to a tax increase.
Wednesday, April 28
BOARD OF POLICE COMMISSIONERS (9 pm): I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. The Polic Board agendas are usually on the Regina Police Service website but I can’t find this week’s. So… if I have to guess, I’ll say they’re looking at crime stats? And thank-you letters from the public? Just a guess.
Aaaanyway… for the two of you who’ve read this far (hi mom!) you can, as always, download full agendas and reports on the city website.