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Councils Salary Increase, nothing to see here. 👀👀 Move along please.

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  • I have been doing some research regarding council pay and the purpose of the 1/3rd tax deduction… Please bear with me on this post as it is a little lengthy.

    The First screenshot is from the Council Compensation & Benefits form. It specifically outlines that the compensation is deemed to be an “allowance” for expenses that are incidental to the discharge of their duties and is, therefore, not taxable. This tax credit allowance ads up to a $5801.50 to the councillors pay check that they would not otherwise recieve. (Photo 3). Some background. Council has proposed to increase their salary by a whopping 13.48% and the Mayors salary by 18.65% to cover the elimination of this tax credit. Council believes the additional taxes they will have to pay should be covered by the taxpayers. Just a side note, I have done what I can with the limited data that I could collect from the city, If i have made any errors in my research I welcome the corrections.

    Lets be clear: this tax break is for EXPENSES. The purpose of this tax break is not to provide a salary relief but rather to be used for expenses that are not receipted. Now, that could be fair if not for the fact that councillors already have a expense budget (photo two) which is the budget and Expenditure Summary that each councillor recieves. Let me ask you, if the councillors have $5801.50 of tax relief specifically because they have expenses yet they also have a budget specficially for expenses then something is wrong here. There is a system in place that allows councillors to double dip and councillors have done nothing about it!

    The purpose of the Councillors budget – expenses
    The purpose of the 1/3rd tax deduction – expenses

    Councillor Handley is correct when she says the exemption was to make up for public officials not charging for some of their expenses, however she says she doesn’t submit an expense claim unless she drives out of town for a meeting… Why? You have a budget, why not use your budget for legitimate expenses? That way we can track the expenses and keep council accountable. The 1/3rd tax exemption for “expenses” is clearly a roundabout way that council does not have to be accountable. And you can tell by all of their responses that council wants to hold on to the slush fund so they can continue to not be accountable.

    Beyond that Mayor Veer’s statement that “councils take-home salary would stay the same”(after the 13/18% increase) prove once and for all that this tax deduction which had a specific purpose was in fact being used as a personal slush fund rather than being used as an legitimate expense account. “The take home salary would stay the same” Veer said. Remember, the purpose of this tax credit is not actually supposed to be part of the take home salary. It is separate. I’ll say it again: it’s specific purpose, according to the government’s own documents (document # 1201862), is for expenses not salary.

    I will also add that, as a business owner, this would never fly. If I claimed that I had $5801.50 worth of expenses that I could not prove with receipts the CRA would laugh and laugh and laugh and then promptly fine me and charge me interest on everything I should have been paying in the first place. This is not how business operates and our government officials should be held to the same, if not a greater, standard. Red Deerians clearly feel the same as the Red Deer Advocates poll currently shows over 92% of people don’t buy what council is selling here. (picture 4)

    So what do we do Red Deer?
    -Council says this tax credit removal is a salary decrease. This has been proven wrong by the Government’s own documents.
    -Council already has an expense budget where they should be claiming all items, nothing should be “hidden”.
    -Red Deerians greatly disagree with this move by council.
    My proposal is simple

    1. The tax credit should have been removed years ago and should continue to be removed.
    2. The salary “adjustment” should not go ahead as the 1/3rd tax break was not supposed to be part of the salary.
    3. NEW* All incidental expenses should be submitted as part of their base budget.
    4. NEW* All receipts that are submitted NEED to be provided online. This is standard for both the provincial and federal government and it is an absolute disgrace that the municipalities think they don’t need to be held accountable in this way.
    5. NEW* I have always said that If I were elected to council I would NEVER vote a salary increase for myself as it is simply unethical. I propose the current council always votes for the next council’s salary. That way you are never voting for your own salary in your own term and the electorate has the option of kicking you out if you make a mockery of the system.

    The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is a reputable organization that had been successfully advocating for lower taxes, less waste and accountable govt for 3 decades. I am pleased that they saw some flaws in this situation and made a recommendation to have citizen councils set wages for civic politicians. The fact the CTF made a comment in the Red Deer Advocates article is a big signal that council has no leg to stand on here and I hope they take this situation seriously.

    What to watch for going forward.
    Council may bow to public pressure here but increase their base budget and add perks such as a housing allowance, vehicle allowance, clothing allowance etc etc… Watch closely to see if they try to get this money out of taxpayers through roundabout methods…

    Lastly, let us remember that every person who submits their papers to run for councillor does so on their own cognition, recognizing the roles, responsibilities and renumeration that they will receive if they are successful in their election bid. Every Councillor knew these changes were coming. This was not a surprise but rather a long overdue needed change to ensure that all expenses are accounted for.

    Please join with me to and tell council to do the right thing. No to this salary increase.


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    November 19 2018 Red Deer 2019 Capital Budget Meeting; Item Aquatic Centre

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  • Red Deer Multi-Use Aquatic Centre conceptual model from MacLennan Jaunkains Miller Architects

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    After perusing the agenda for Red Deer’s November 19 Budget meeting, I would say it is obvious that people want a 50m pool.
    20 years ago it was hoped for, and there was discussion about it being incorporated into the Collicutt Centre. 15 years ago it was hoped to be incorporated into the downtown Recreational Centre.
    4 years ago the discussion started about being built by Hazlett Lake in the north-west corner of Red Deer.
    There have been serious concerns about the downtown location. Bussing, parking, traffic and size have brought at least 4 councillors to withdraw support for the downtown location.
    The cost is phenomenal and mysterious and holding back support. 2013 the number tossed about was $85million plus demolition, streets, lights etc.etc. Now 5 years later the number could be $110million plus demolition, streets, lights etc.etc.
    Yellowknife is budgeting $50 million, UBC cost $39 million, Markham and Saskatoon cost $56 million in 2018 dollars.
    Why do we need a Rolex if a Timex will do? The term Taj Mahal is used when talking about Red Deer structures from Public Works to Bus Stations, is that necessary?
    Out of the 7 largest cities in Alberta, Red Deer is the only city that cannot host a 50m swim. We are talking about Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie and Lethbridge doing what Red Deer cannot and unwilling to do.
    The number of pools is a great concern. We have had only 4 pools since 2001, and if we only renovate a current pool then we will be down to 3 pools for a couple of years then be at 4 pools for another 32 years. If we build or renovate a pool every 25 years. The goal was 4 pools for 60,000 residents but we will probably be at 4 pools for 150,000 residents in 32 years.
    The city recently replaced one ice rink downtown, the college opened a new ice rink recently and the city wants to build another rink in the near future. Interesting because the number one activity of Red Deer residents is swimming, even the Red Deer Advocate posted that a few weeks ago. 60% prefer the Collicutt Centre.
    When Red Deer Lodge was renovating their pool, they offered free passes to the downtown pool, a couple of blocks away, and had few if any takers.
    The downtown location is wrong, the cost given is wrong, the delay offered is wrong, so where is the disconnect?
    E-mail legislative services@reddeer.ca and ask or tell them what you think. I did.
    Just saying.


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    Calgary voted against bidding for Olympic Games, would Red Deer have voted against bidding for Canada Games?

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  • Calgarians have voted against bidding for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games. Besides the boosterism of the few, the bid never really resonated with the populace.
    This bid also undeniably fell victim to the unpleasant baggage weighing down the Olympic movement. The cynical narrative is familiar by now. Cities spend billions more than initially proposed to host a two-week party that leaves little long-term positive economic impact. According to reporter Jamie Strashin of CBC news.
    There would have meant billions spent for this event and yet the perception is that there would be negligible long term benefit.
    Another question that was being asked, would the Olympics have delayed other much needed projects, more important to the residents of Calgary?
    Would Red Deer residents, if having the opportunity, would they have followed Calgary in voting against the bidding for the 2019 Canada Games? Will the two-week party in February leave little long-term positive economic impact?
    Has other projects, more important to Red Deerians been delayed or cancelled, until after the Canada Games? Will there be any quantifiable benefits to the average joe in Red Deer having these games?
    I know that the Canada Games does not have the same baggage and is only in the tens of millions not like the billions, in total, by various governments, for the Olympic games, but Calgarians still did not believe they would see any long term economic benefit.
    They can watch the ceremonies, races and events on television like almost everyone else no matter where it is located.
    Will Red Deer be able to show that the Canada Games will give us long term economic benefits without delaying other projects nearer and dearer to our hearts? Will we be scrambling to catch up after it is over?
    Perhaps we should start having plebiscites before we commit our tax dollars to these big events? Just saying.


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    november, 2018

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