The Football Player, Part Two

Paul and I just interviewed Chris Szarka, the football player councillor I was disdainful of in an earlier post. Nice guy. His concern isn't "one note" as I reported earlier, it's actually two-note: property taxes (high) and services (bad). I asked him to reconcile what seems to me to be contradictory priorities: lowering taxes and improving services. He didn't, I should note, say he wanted to push for lower taxes. What he actually said, and I don't have the direct quote so hopefully I'm paraphrasing correctly, is that people in his ward pay high taxes and have bad services. He specifically mentioned poor, low snow removal and no doorstep mail delivery. Reasonable things to gripe about. But if those can't be improved, he said, the level of taxes need to be revisited.

EDIT: I suspect he might be a Ward 10 secessionist. You heard it from prairie dog's editor first.

So there you go. Back to Dechene, who'll cap the evening with a quick post on the results you certainly shouldn't be reading this blog for.


Gregory Beatty said...

Leaving aside for the moment that mail delivery isn't a municipal responsibility, the problem I have with Szarka's myopic suburban view is that it's not based on a sound understanding of urban planning. Take a typical city block in the Cathedral area. It might contain 50 houses. Transfer that same amount of real estate to a sprawling subdivision, where lots and houses are significantly larger, and road networks eschew the grid for isolated bays and meandering crescents to cut down on traffic noise and other "inconveniences" of urban life, and you might fit 10 houses. Dollar for dollar, residents in Szarka's ward probably get the same amount of mail service as other Reginans. But because of the suburban lifestyle they have chosen, the money doesn't go as far. The same principle applies to virtually every service that governments provide, from garbage pick-up and transit to the cost of sewer and water. What's next Chris? Whining about how it takes residents of your ward too long to get downtown compared to people in inner city neighbourhoods. Far from being discriminated against, suburbs have benefitted from direct and indirect subsidies from existing city residents with more sustainable lifestyles for far too long.

Jim said...

You know what's funny about the mail delivery thing? The supermailboxes are just in the new neighbourhoods with the superexpensive houses and REALLY high property taxes. Argyle Park and Uplands, for example, are planned out just as poorly but have doorstep mail service. So it doesn't surprise me at all that there is griping: "I just spent half a million on this house and pay 4000 a year in property taxes but I can't get the mailman to come to my door, while the guy in the neighbourhood nextdoor pays half the taxes I do and DOES get doorstep mail service." What the post office does may not be a municipal-level thing but does the average person understand that?

On the snow removal thing though, we're all in the same boat, it sucks everywhere. Somehow it always goes over budget without really satisfying anyone. Not sure what you can do about that.

Szarka seems to be yet another one of those guys who doesn't seem to understand that TAXES PAY FOR THINGS. You can't improve service and cut taxes. Or even do one or the other. If you want to say "OK we're not getting our money's worth let's cut taxes" well GUESS WHAT BUDDY SOMETHING HAS TO GET CUT AND THINGS ARE JUST GOING TO GET WORSE. Sheesh.

Gregory Beatty said...

I live in a 1000 sq ft third-floor condo in downtown Regina. Not low end, granted, but far from high end. With the recent reassessment, my property tax bill has dropped, but in 2007 and 2008 it was over $3000.