Community Comment: Future of the city involves all Rosslanders

"The City of Rossland recently received a grant for $75,000 from the Federal Gas Tax fund."

The City of Rossland recently received a grant for $75,000 from the Federal Gas Tax fund.

We will use this money to refine the Asset Management Plan work that we have started.

Asset Management is a critical component of responsible fiscal planning. An Asset Management Plan requires that we have an inventory of everything owned by the municipality (roads, pipes, plants, equipment, facilities etc.).

Next we need to document the lifecycle of every item in the inventory. Finally we need to incorporate the replacement and repair costs into our financial planning documents.

Throughout North America a huge infrastructure deficit has built up over the last few decades. In the 1950’s and 1960’s lots of investments were made in civic infrastructure from roads and water treatment plants to recreation facilities.

Unfortunately, many of those assets are at the end of their useful life and governments, at all levels, have not adequately planned to pay for the needed improvements. Thus we find ourselves in a tight predicament now.

Consider that municipalities own approximately 60 per cent of all infrastructure in our country.

It is staggering to realize that the only sure way we have to finance operation, maintenance and capital improvements is primarily through property taxes and user fees.

In Rossland that means residential taxpayers because we have a very limited commercial sector and no industrial taxpayers.

Recently Rossland Council was presented with a sobering report on the state of our finances. Without a doubt, our obligations exceed our ability to pay for all the facilities we operate and the services we provide.

This gives us a terrific opportunity to get creative and get our financial house in order. I encourage everyone to look at the two power-point presentations posted on www.rossland.ca to be informed about the challenges we face.

Compared to other municipalities, we operate with a very lean workforce.

In total we only have full-time 24 employees. Many are cross-trained to do a variety of jobs. Employees are asked to reduce costs and increase efficiencies without reducing service. It’s been a challenge but they work hard at it.

Here’s one example: No new employees were hired when the City took on Red Mountain and Redstone golf course area despite the addition of significant service requirements.

This council recognized that the City of Rossland had some overly generous management contracts and compensation packages. Over the last year we have addressed those issues and have hired people at a rate we can afford. We looked at other municipalities our same size and with a similar budget to gauge a fair compensation package.

Our taxes are already higher than most communities in our region.

We spend 20 per cent of our budget on recreation. This includes the $50,000 we have set aside to reimburse Rosslanders for using some of Trail’s facilities this year.

The reality is that recreation is changing. We live in a fabulous outdoor play-ground, perhaps we need to reconsider how we allocate scarce taxpayer money.

Maybe we don’t need to spend such significant amounts on traditional recreation programing and facilities.

We want the community to participate in this discussion.

Your council consists of ordinary citizens- we don’t have all the answers which is why we want to involve the community in any decisions that will have a significant impact.

We are looking forward to your creative ideas.

We are doing what we can to “right the Ship of State” but it’s a huge challenge and we will need the public’s input to help us make some creative adjustments.

Stay tuned over the next few months for your opportunity to get involved in this community wide conversation

Kathy Moore is the Mayor of the City of Rossland.

Community Comment is an opportunity for elected officials from our local municipalities to update citizens in the region on the events, plans and progress in their respective communities. Every Friday, the Trail Times will present, on a rotating basis, a submission from councils, school trustees or regional district directors.

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