Tell your council what is important to you and your tax dollars

as the mayor sees it with District of Barriere Mayor Bill Humphreys - Tell your council what is important to you and your tax dollars

Recently, I was at a meeting where the moderator hit the nail on the head when she said that governments were in the business of delivering disappointment.

We all know that it is impossible to please everyone when decisions are made. What we as elected officials, have to be aware of, is who is helped by the decision and who possibly is hurt. This knowledge should be the driving force behind each decision made. Not personal preference or pressure from groups of residents that are more vocal than their peers.

Time and time again local governments provide services to people that don’t want or need them, and tax everyone to do this.

In this particular instance I am not talking about essential core services like public safety provided through the fire and police departments, or public works systems that provide safe, clean water in adequate amounts. I am also not including services provided by other orders of government like health care and education either.

What I am referring to are those services that are in the nice to have class, but are not essential to the safety, health and wellbeing of local residents.

In each and every case local politicians need to ask themselves the question of, if money is used to support this particular project what else will fall off the list?

There are only so many dollars in the budget. It should never be an option for council to just keep raising taxes to fund more and more services without seeking the proper consultation of the taxpaying public.

All too often, the only time the public is seriously consulted is when election ballots are handed out and the results counted. By then, decisions have been made that have far reaching consequences, that even a completely new council may never be able to remedy.

My personal view, is that residents need to be fully engaged with any and all decision making that is done by council.

Unfortunately, this is not a workable model by any means.

There are things that can be done to get feedback, but truthfully, in most cases they fall far short of any sort of meaningful dialogue.

The District still needs to be managed though, and council will do it’s best to make decisions they feel are the correct ones.

Some residents have said that the District water has changed in the last while. More chlorine seems to be used; the water eats taps and ruins appliances like kettles and ice makers. Those that have a whole house filter system say the particulates in the water are greater now than before.

The District wells are pumping from a different aquifer than in years past, and perhaps this is causing some issues.

To improve the water system will cost more than a few dollars of the budget. Is spending budget dollars to improve our water system more important than spending funds on building new trails?

Another aspect of the water system, besides the quality of the water, is that some of the delivery pipes are in need of an upgrade. Again this will cost money.

If there is a choice of replacing failing cement asbestos water pipes, or incurring the ongoing costs associated with park upgrades like a splash pad which would you choose?

Please bear in mind that I am not against trails, splash pads, swimming pools and all those things that make life more fulfilling and pleasurable.

There is no doubt that society does need to be more active and have public spaces and facilities that encourage this. I have no problem spending my own money to support the growth and maintenance of such facilities.

Please make note here that I am talking about my own money, not funds raised through taxation.

If I reach into my pocket and take money out to spend on what I consider to be important, that is my choice. In most cases it makes me happy.

When any order of government reaches into my pocket and takes money out to spend how they please,  I do not have the same warm and fuzzy feeling.

It is your money; you need to tell your council what is important to you.