Q: What do you see as the main issue in Agassiz and how do you propose Council can address it?
A: I think one of the key issues facing the District right now is the feeling by the community that there is a lack of communication between Council and residents, that there is no public consultation. We need to have more public meetings where we allow residents to have the opportunity to have a say. When given the opportunity, such as with the Public Hearing of November 5th where over 50 community members came, residents do show up.
Financial spending in the District is also a huge concern for residents. We want to know that our tax dollars are spent the most efficient way possible. The 2013 taxes on an average house was a little over $2,800. Of that, just over $1,100 goes toward municipal taxes. Every thousand dollars that is spent by the District is from one of our resident’s hard earned money. We must ensure that spending is controlled and justified. I have experience creating budgets both big, as a member of School District 78’s Budget Committee, and small, as the Parent Advisory Committee treasurer for the past six years. My experience working in finance, as well as my involvement on various committees has prepared me to deal with these key issues.
Q: The Municipality needs to collect taxes to provide sufficient services to all of its members. Explain the benefits or pitfalls in providing tax breaks to businesses or farms as you understand it.
A: As every resident and property owner benefits from the services a municipality provides, a fair payment of taxes need to be collected. The District in the past has implemented Revitalization Tax Exemptions for new businesses becoming established. There is a short term loss of tax revenue. However, for example, with the Subway/Elks property, there were eight more commercial units created which provided jobs and services for our residents. It also expanded the District’s tax base as now that the exemption is complete, more commercial taxes are now being collected. No one likes paying taxes. Ensuring that tax rates are levied fairly to all stakeholders in the District is something that I pledge to do.
Q: While the community elects the Mayor and Councillors, the District staff does the day-to-day work of running operations. If elected, how do you plan to foster relationships within the workplace to keep the District running smoothly?
A: Through attending Council meetings, I have heard Council members thanking their ‘Social Committee’ for planning golf and bowling outings, dinners and other get togethers for Council, staff and their families. I believe that continuing to provide opportunities outside of work for Council and Staff to socialize and interact with each other is important to foster positive and productive work relationships.
However, I believe that it is more important to have a good working relationship between staff and residents. Sometimes, through lack of information and miscommunication from both sides, negative relationships and opinions of the District staff are formed. Information meetings, for example explaining bylaws, policies, permit application processes or other future District plans, could bridge this gap between staff and residents. It is necessary to provide a positive and welcoming atmosphere in the District offices to ensure productivity and the advancement for our community and all its residents.