Crouse floats Servus plebiscite
Vote in 2017 would ask residents about future expansion
By: Peter Boer
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 06:00 am
Mayor Nolan Crouse raised a few eyebrows at council Monday when he suggested voters should weigh in directly on the future of Servus Credit Union Place in five years time.
Speaking as council debated a motion to approve a 60-day public input period for the proposed expansion, Crouse said a plebiscite in 2017 might be warranted.
“It might not be what you want but by that time it could be a $30- or $40-million expansion. Then you can move and get on with it,” Crouse said.
In a later interview, Crouse said this was the first time he has publicly discussed the idea of holding a plebiscite on the future of Servus Place. His proposed plebiscite would come 15 years after the 2004 referendum that authorized its original construction.
Specifically, he wants the question focused on the funding model and asking residents if they are willing to continue paying the levy on their tax bill to service the debt for an expansion.
“It’s already on people’s tax bill,” Crouse said. “Are you prepared to keep it on your tax bill beyond 2024?”
The debenture on the original facility will be paid off in 2024. Residents now pay a falling levy on their property tax bill to service the debt. What started at $70 per $100,000 in assessment fell to half that total last year.
“There’s a good chance the cost of it essentially being 100-per-cent public money,” Crouse said. “This isn’t something that’s easily a blend of private and public money, not like the downtown or the future of St. Albert Trail where there’s some blend.”
Facility director Diane Enger, when asked for her reaction to Crouse’s proposal, said it was a ways in the future.
“I do think that’s a bit far off in terms of five years down the road,” Enger said. “It’s important to get input from the public over the next 60 days and go back to council with what we heard for planning.”
Crouse said he picked 2017 because it will be two elections from now. The next municipal election will take place next October. The provincial government announced last week that, starting next October, municipal councils will serve four-year terms instead of three.