Monday, 25 March 2013

No simple choice

So I just finished my first service review and budget. SIMPLY STATED- I was left shaking and apprehensive about what I have seen and reviewed. First as a city we have seemingly unsustainable escalating basic operating costs.  Wages control your taxes. The requirements for infrastructure and basic services seem to be in jeopardy. You and I are having to pay huge increases to pay for our cities day to day operations. We are left with little to improve our basic community structure. How can we improve our utilities, roads and community amenities? But really it about the future of where we want our future to go. It is about our quality of life and the ability to sustain service levels. While we create a place where others want to invest and live. It comes down to not what we want but what we can afford.

Unless the senior governments can help us we have no option but to continue to raise your taxes. I do not care if it is 2% on your mill rate or a flat tax it still comes down to just making ends meet and repair a little of your city. We have only one way of getting money from YOUR POCKET. It does not matter if you pay us taxes, the province or the feds. We are simply paying the piper. 

I left today from council chamber shook. I came home and Kathy and I looked at our last city tax notice and tried to figure it out. We live in a modest condo. Our current home is a one bedroom condo in 2012 was assessed at Market Value $89,800 (62,860 Assessed) now is assessed at $169,400 Market Value(118,580 Assessed)  70% Prov. Assessed value both years. So currently we pay $1,717.34 total taxes (all including school)

So how does this affect Kathy and Rick? Simply stated our taxes are going up substantially. Just like yours. Once I see our actual numbers I will post on my blog our actuals.

So how do I as your councillor sell this to you. Well it is really hard but it comes down to past councils letting you down by not increasing your taxes to pay for our cost of living increases and allowing your infrastructure deficits to get right out of control. They also would not reduce services. They did it because it was possibly easy and got them re-elected or they just did not have the appetite to take on the “elephant in the room” our escalating labour costs. We have no choice. Union negotiations have not always allowed for cola “cost of living” increases. Our police and fire costs are over 40% of your taxes. Their labour cost is almost 90% of their respective budgets. You pay for it and we have little room left to work on other things. This year just to make ends meet means we need 3.6% increase for our general operating budget. Just to keep up! That is what pays for just running the city, wages, services, utilities and a few potholes fixed.  Our only other choice is to cut costs. That means you will have less services and less roads fixed.  Higher access fees to recreation facilities. More user fees, more of everything. Or we just tell administration to do what we have for the last decade or two - just do nothing. 

I suggest council may have to ask administration to cap labour increases to 1.6% over the next 4 years and further ask every union and manager to reduce size of our workforce by 10% through attrition over the next 5 years. Hard choices but we have few other options other than keep doing what we are now and increase your taxes. Fire and police will have to look at the same. If they cannot figure it out then we will just have to figure it out for them.

Kathy and I see our city taxes going up and we are probably an average home level in Prince Albert. W5 on CTV says the federal governments spends $8,000 for every man woman and child in Canada. How much comes back to us civically? 

Folks we need your understanding and help. Council is trying their best to do what we need to provide water, sewer, roads, bridges plus fire and police services. You told us you wanted to feel safe and have clean water and sewer utilities, bridges, roads and community services. If you do really want us to start on fixing what has been left to deteriorate then we need your support.  What we are talking about is basic repairs and maintaining your current quality of life then we need you to support these increases. 

Please help us figure out how to protect your city and keep your costs in check.

I ask you to call me or your ward councillors, email or write your suggestions. 
We are all in this together.

Councillor for Ward 2 - Rick Orr

Cell phone 306-960-3663
c/o 1084 Central Avenue: Prince Albert, SK  S6V 7P3

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Radio Marathon raises $120,125 for Children's Haven

Thanks for asking me to volunteer on Thursday morning from 7am till 9am. It was amazing to see the excitement and get a FREE pancake breakfast.

Congratulations to all involved but more so for all those who gave so much.

Radio Marathon raises $120,125 for Children's Haven

PA’s Embee Diamonds partners with Canadian mining company

Congo raw diamond ready for the Botha magic

Congratulation Michael Botha, Embee Diamond’s master diamond cutter and the Botha Family for bring your vision and talents to Prince Albert's downtown. Watch this enterprise as in brings diamond cutters and in the future invites the public to view their operations.

Well done.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

2013 Northern Lights Casino Traditional Feast and Round Dance

Kathy and I would like to thank Richard Ahenakew and Sherry Arsenault for the gracious invitation to participate and learn about First Nations traditions and culture. It was a time of friendships and hospitality enjoyed by ourselves along with Councillor Cody and City Police Services Chief Troy Cooper. I am sure we would all like to thank the elders for their patience in guiding us through the spiritual traditions that provides offering of food that we learned is an important spiritual practice that is intended to look after relatives that have gone before us.

We observed and participated in special pipe ceremonies and prayers that were conducted with this offering of food. We learned that First Nation's law that prayers at feast are only given for good fortune, well being and happiness. The feast was followed by a Round Dance.

Thanks again everyone for sharing your friendship, prayers, laughs and dances.

Check out the history at the link below:

Attached find a YouTube video from 2012.

If you are interested in learning more check this book out at the John M. Cuelenaere Library:

"Cultural Teachings

First Nations Protocols and Methodologies"
  • Zzz
  • Sylvia McAdam
  • Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre Staff (Contribution by)

  • link to review in Saskatoon Star Phoenix

    By the way have you checked out online ebooks 
    at  John M. Cuelenaere Library . 

    Gives you access to the whole provincial library system. 

    Fantastic way to read and no return or late fees. 

    Absolutely free.

    Columbian Centre residents Thanks

    It was about feedback and dialogue with the city of Prince Albert's Transportation Manager, Keri Sexsmith and our Engineering Manager of Capital Projects and Planning who joined me to discuss bus, street crossing and other issues with the great people at Colombian Centre. Thanks for the feedback.

    The video is from December 18th, while my wife ran into Zeller's I decided to take some pictures of people trying to cross the busy 2nd Ave W at 13th St. W. intersection and you will see the results. I have talked to our experts and the fix is being worked on. The City Manager indicated costs might be minimal as all the lighting infrastructure is in place. More examples of our employees looking for the best solutions for our city but more important safety for all it's citizens.

    Monday, 4 March 2013

    Hope comes to Prince Albert

    Hope's Home Ribbon Cutting Sunday March 3rd, 2013

    Today Monday March 4th, 21 Medically fragile children and their families have HOPE for a better life.

    Check out Hope's Home website below.

    Here are some of my speaking notes from yesterday's opening.

    Hope’s Home cares for medically fragile children, their siblings and children in our community

    Hope’s Home is licensed for 44 daycare spaces opening Monday morning with 21 children and will be filling these spaces over the next few months.

    Hope’s Home is on the wait-list to increase our daycare spaces to over 70 licensed spaces.

    Employment opportunities include:
    • 8 full time jobs plus casual employment
    • $60,000/month (salaries) immediate impact with this number doubling within 6 months as Hope’s Home grows.
    • Hope’s Home brings new jobs and economic growth.
    • Practicum placement for our students (Nursing/Education/and more)

    Volunteer opportunities
    • Revitalize downtown
    • Bringing hope to downtown Prince Albert 

    Thank you Hope's Home Board, Jacqueline Tisher and your wonderful staff and volunteers for bringing your dream and vision to our community.

    A Ward 2 councillor's dream is that we might convince council, community groups to build a riverside spray park for the children from Hope's Home, Family Futures daycare and other children living downtown. A well designed play area could become a riverfront feature that would draw people from the city and make it a destination for families to play and enjoy our wonderful river view.