False and misleading attacks against City of Swift Current unwarranted

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Editor:

While it isn't the role of City Council to respond to editorial of opinion, it is important that false information be addressed and corrected to ensure the community is informed, rather than misled.

In a recent letter to the editor, Don Robinson suggested that City power rates are 10 per cent higher than SaskPower resulting in $2 million of additional "windfall" to city coffers and because of this people are leaving the City for the RM.

As confirmed in The Power Corporation Act, all cities in Saskatchewan collect a 10 per cent surcharge on power rates while towns and villages collected a five per cent surcharge which is used to pay for rights of way and payments in lieu of taxes. Rural Municipalities are not subject to this charge. City of Swift Current Light and Power includes the surcharge in the total power rate while SaskPower utilizes a separate line on their billing system.

When looking at the residential rates as published by SaskPower (http://www.saskpower.com/wp-content/uploads/residential_rates.pdf) Mr. Robinson would also know that cities, towns and villages pay a lower basic monthly charge and every charge compared to rural and rural resort communities. In other words, you can't compare urban versus rural rates because of the rate setting structure in the province. And if you have an issue with that, I'm sure you will write a letter to your MLA.

The bottom line is City Light and Power customers can feel confident knowing that rates are the same as any other city provided by SaskPower.

In regards to the assertion that people are leaving because of power rates, it's important to note that 50 residential homes were built in 2013 along with 56 multi-family and condo units. Total construction has totalled over $415 million since 2005 with approximately $175 million of that since 2011.

As is always the case, this information could have been clarified by calling any member of City Council or City Light and Power.

Unfortunately, the weekly letters to the editor that paint a very bleak picture of the City with false or misleading information leads me to question the motivations for writing them. Is it to discredit members of council either politically or professionally? Discredit city administration or staff? If clarification is all Mr. Robinson was after, surely he would ask.

Whatever the motivation stating false information that misleads the public is unnecessary, irresponsible and it's unfortunate that it continues.

Gord Budd - Councillor, City of Swift Current

Organizations: City of Swift Current

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Swift Current

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Recent comments

  • Craig
    April 01, 2014 - 10:28

    I haven't verified it personally however I have heard from a few people now who have moved to the Hat that there are advantages they are happy to have there. Natural gas rates are much lower (this is one of the Medicine Hat advantages sort of like our City Light and Power revenue that offset our raxes USED to be our advantage before it was decided that was going to be erroded away so we can build more stuff), lower property taxes and senior benefits. I had not considered retiring there before, but now it is top on my list in a few years time. I won't be the only one making a move because of how poorly our city it run I can assure city council of that. I already know one person who has sold and is moving out of town all spurred on by the 6% tax grab in Feburary. That's all it took to tip the scales.

  • Hensel
    March 30, 2014 - 13:52

    Perhaps Councillor Budd could explain why the 15% tax hike is a positive thing for the City? Or how Swift Current plans to find 10,000 new residents, when they've struggled to find a few hundred over the last decade - when the rest of the province was booming? Dale may respond to say I'm being racist, but the facts are, Saskatchewan is growing by First Nations birth rate, which isn't that relevant to Swift Current, and Third World Immigration. So Councillor Budd, you may need to attract one of these groups. An unrealistic positive growth rate was also pumped by former Regina mayor, Pat Fiasco, but he never came close to the 250,000 resident he promised, as Regina went from 190,000 to 200,000 during his decadish long reign. So perhaps Councillor Budd and the rest of the gang at City Hall has NO intention of actually gaining the 10,000 new residents, but any political rival who doubts them (as was the case in Regina) will be seen as "negative" and not "believing" in Swift... Swift Current residents are facing massive tax hikes. Some of this blame can be put on Brad Wall for not coming through with as much help for municipalities and education tax as he promised. Either way, Saskatchewan is only growing because of immigration and natural birth rate. Perhaps Swift Current will want to invest its massive 15% tax hike in an Open Door Society and free childcare, if not, I feel many of the "negative" comments are fair, as people don't like massive tax hikes and short of one silly misunderstanding on utilities, Swift Current struggled to find new residents 15% ago... Alberta pays more for ALL trades people, for MOST professionals and has LOWER taxes. If I were an 18 to 25 year old new grad of the trades, accounting, nursing etc. I would be making a bee line to Calgary for a massive raise and less tax. And one hour to world class skiing. Hey even a move to Medicine Hat gives you 5% off everyday life!

  • Paul
    March 30, 2014 - 08:28

    Just to be 100% sure I had a friend in Regina email me a copy of his Sask Power bill. When I applied my usage to the calculations on his bill I discovered I paid just over $2.00 more than he did for the same usage. Seems we are getting a higher basic fee applied than Sask Power customers which is wrong. This may be a small amount per year, but the point is a) that is MY money you are playing with and b) this makes Gord wrong and Don correct. The city is racking in another hidden tax. Further the 10% built into our rates and shown separate by Sask Power is actually an optional charge used by Sask Power and cities serviced by Sask Power. We aren't serviced by Sask Power so we shouldn't be paying this 10% at all. This is just another form of tax. Gord, you need to get your story straight.

  • Paul
    March 29, 2014 - 23:44

    Well let's see, looking at my CL&P bill I see a charge for $22.24 which never has any explanation and is more than the $20.22 that Sask Power charges its city customers in Yorkton, Regina, etc.. Then I see a line of actual usage that works out to 13.12 cents per so as far as I can tell we ARE getting charged more than other cities not the same. I think Mr. Budd needs to check his facts not the other way around. Maybe he can explain the $22.24 line and explain why he isn't quoting the rules for bulk power purchases like done in Swift Current. It's not the same. Not very transparent and just another tax grab exactly as has been stated.

  • Craig
    March 28, 2014 - 11:51

    Doesn't really matter now does it? The fact is you and the rest of your crew on city council are taking all of our power revenue bonus away over the next five years and saddling the tax payer with more taxes yet again in the same amount of time. There is just never enough money as far as this city council is concerned and how any of you can face the tax payer here and feel good about yourselves is beyond me.

    • Hensel
      March 30, 2014 - 13:55

      Seems odd that Council is upping city taxes by 15% the same time they plan to grow the city by an unprecedented 10,000! A move to Medicine Hat for most young people represents an instant 5% savings on every day life!