Candidates eager for change
Election 2017: Reducing taxes, growth among issues discussed at forum
Wednesday, Oct 04, 2017 06:00 am
Bring taxes down and stimulating economic growth dominated the candidates’ forum in Turner Valley last week.
Many of the 12 candidates running for council and three seeking the mayor’s chair shared their thoughts on how to decrease taxes and promote growth in the community of about 2,200 people during the Sept. 19 forum at Turner Valley School.
Mayoral candidate Cheryle Dobbyn told the more than 125 people in attendance that reducing redundant staffing between Turner Valley and Black Diamond could help reduce operating costs.
“We already cooperate on garbage, we cooperate on water,” she said. “Part of my platform is we review staff, who is doing what, what they are getting paid and what they do.”
Dobbyn said the Town is in need of change.
“There’s going to have to be a huge shift in our way of thinking,” she said. “I don’t promise change, I guarantee it.”
Randy Williamson, who is running for a seat on council, said he would like to see spending on equipment, wages and vehicles reviewed. If elected, Williamson said he will ensure controls are put in place to regulate spending.
“I’m only interested in reducing our taxes,” he said. “We must find ways to put money back into the residents’ pockets.”
Mayoral candidate Gary Rowntree said he would like council to establish a budget and finance committee.
“A review process will start immediately after the election as we enter into the 2018 budget deliberations,” he said.
Water and sewer bills are among the items that need to be reviewed, said Rowntree.
“The water bill doubled over the same period as last year even though the water restrictions were severe this summer,” he said. “And why are we paying 100 per cent consumption on sewer when in the summer you water your lawn and trees and that doesn’t go into the sewer system. We are being double dipped. Those are issues we would like to review with the support of council.”
Incumbent councilor John Waring said he would also like to see expenses reduced and that council should review what services it can share with Black Diamond.
“There is a lot more that can be shared,” he said, “We have to try and merge operations to make better use of people.”
Firing a couple of Town employees will not make a big impact, he said.
“We have to look at this with some depth,” he said. “There is no easy answer. If I’m lucky enough to get voted into the next council I would really like to get involved with this.”
When asked how she will reduce taxes and utility costs if elected, candidate Cindy Holladay said she can’t promise anything without having numbers in front of her, but she would like to see council apply for more grants.
“Are we missing opportunities?” she asked. “Could we combine efforts with Black Diamond or the MD of Foothills who can help us in this process so we can get some revenue coming in that way?”
Holladay said she would like to see council change the way it responds to public inquiries at its meetings.
“I’ve personally gone to council with issues and was frustrated by the lack of response and months of waiting for information,” she said. “A system should be put in place to ensure you get a quick response when you come. That will go a long ways to building trust. I want to see changes and I want to see them fast and we need a council that will do the job and listen to everyone.”
Improving economic development and tourism was a priority among many candidates.
“The discussion we need to continue as council is how to continue to grow our residences and how do we attract new businesses to our town,” said candidate David Tate.
When asked what he would do differently to reduce taxes, incumbent Barry Care suggested hiring an events manager paid by the events he or she runs.
“Whatever money is left over goes back into whatever we choose as a town – non-profits, recycling, parks or recreation,” he said. “An events manager can bring in revenue and it will help put us on the map.”
Crane said council must prepare for growth by nurturing fresh ideas.
Candidate Lana Hamilton said she would like to encourage growth in the business community by reviewing the permit process to ensure it’s efficient and streamlined.
“I want to make business starts more appealing,” she said. “I am 100 per cent for growth. Our town needs it.”
Jonathan Gordon said he would like to see council work towards retaining and attracting new businesses. He said he envisions a multipurpose all-season recreation facility, financial accountability and a focus on economic development.
“I want people in our region to know that we are open for business,” he said.
The forum was the first of three organized by the Turner Valley Tax Payers Group and Diamond Valley Chamber of Commerce. Election forums are also scheduled for Oct. 4 at 9 p.m. in the Valley Neighbours Club and Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. in Turner Valley School.
The public heads to the polls Oct. 16 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Flare ‘n’ Derrick Community Hall. Advanced polls are Oct. 5 from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the municipal office.