Right off the top, I’d like to give everyone a quick reminder about Santas Anonymous. You’ll see the donation boxes at Town Hall and around town – I hope you will take a moment to donate! You can find a list of preferred food and gift items on the town’s website at http://www.banff.ca/locals-residents/social-services-programs/low-income-residents/santas-anonymous.htm Let’s help all Banffites have a merry Christmas!
You can follow the budget process at this link: http://www.banff.ca/town-hall/finance/budget_2012.htm You’ll see various references on that page to items having been approved by council, but I should note that nothing is final until Council signs off on the whole budget – up until then, any member of council can ask for anything to be reconsidered.
Council has been through the capital budget (although it is not yet approved), and now we’re working on the operating budget. There are going to be at least two more meetings: Monday morning from 9 – noon, and Wednesday from 9 – 2 pm. As always, you’re welcome to attend these meetings.
There are big challenges this year, the biggest of which is the funding for the RCMP. Last year, the province announced that it would decrease its funding of our RCMP by almost $400,000. Unfortunately, we don’t feel that cutting the level of police service here is an option (especially since the province also closed our courthouse, meaning that Banff RCMP now spend much more time going to and from court and waiting around in court in Canmore), so Banff taxpayers will be picking up the tab. This item alone will lead to a 2.02% tax increase. Then there is the proposed expense for protecting our urban forest, which I support – but it means 0.31% on taxes. Then there’s the community’s commitment to the Alberta Winter Games – 0.26% on taxes. Then there are the many community groups who have asked for increased funding from the town this year to support their efforts. Budget time is never easy.
To put these numbers in proportion: every 1% of increase means a cost of approximately $2.65 per month to the average Banff household.
MORE ON FORMULA BUSINESSES
I told you in my “special edition” update about my motion to have the town look at a quota system for formula businesses. At least, I thought (and some other people thought) that I said “formula businesses”. But others in the room, who were also diligently listening and taking notes, feel that I said “formula restaurants”, and that is what appears in the draft minutes. So, to make this one crystal clear, I’ll be bringing a follow-up motion to council on Monday to add “formula retail” to the earlier motion. Council can choose to approve or not approve this.
MONDAY’S COUNCIL MEETING
Council meets Monday afternoon at 2 pm, and you are welcome to attend. You can see the whole package for the meeting at this link:
Here are some highlights from the agenda ...
Banff Tea Company presentation
Susanne Gillies-Smith of the Banff Tea Company will be presenting a request for an immediate moratorium on applications for chain stores while a quota system is being considered. You can read the information and accompanying letters starting on page 3 of the package.
At present, I'm not in favour of a moratorium while we're looking at the question of quotas. I think it's important that council sets regulations and policies that people know about in advance, that we look at the whole community and its needs in doing so, and that we don't change the rules of the game without reasonable notice (and lots of input). If the community decides, through a public input process, that a quota system is a good idea, and if council votes it in, I would be in favour of ensuring that we don't exceed that quota during the time that we will have to wait for Parks to approve the bylaw -- which, as we know, can be more than a year. If that necessitated a freeze at that time, I would be willing to look at that.
Want to see what Council gets paid? You can read all about these princely sums, starting on page 48 of the package. Every year, Council honoraria are brought to council for consideration of whether they should be adjusted to keep pace with inflation. The last time they were adjusted for inflation was in January of 2008.
Community measures report
This report tracks key environmental, community and economic indicators year over year to see how we’re doing on implementing the goals in our Community Plan. You can see the background information starting on page 87 of the package, and you can see the report itself at this link:
So – how are we doing, compared to 2009? Here are a few examples – you’ll find many more in the report:
• We’re recycling more, but we’re also generating more waste overall
• We’re using slightly more water per person, but slightly less energy
• Our public transit costs are up, but we’re still using way less taxpayer support than most public transit systems. Ridership is up very slightly.
• The number of people taking community classes is down
Outdoor rink – High School grounds
School board staff and town staff have worked together to create a proposal for use of the high school field for a skating rink. Lovely as this would be, it’s hard to support at a cost of $51K for a 16-week season. You can see the proposal starting on page 89 of the report.
LAST UPDATE FOR 2011
Unless something extraordinary happens, this will be my final council update for 2011, so I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year. Many thanks to all the folks who have commented, questioned and generally encouraged me about this email update during the past year!! I’m so delighted that you find it useful, and I look forward to sending you the first issue of 2012, sometime around January 7.
All the best until then – Leslie
P.S. - THE FINE PRINT
As always, any opinions expressed in this post are mine alone. This post does not represent the official opinions of the town of Banff or its Council. But my guess is that they all wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, as well. ;-D