Norm Harley last candidate to enter city council race
New candidate thinks financial experience would be asset to council
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 06:00 am
The final candidate to announce his candidacy for council is hoping to bring his experience as a retired banker and financial planner to the table.
Norm Harley, 62, filed his papers on nomination day, taking his second run for council after an unsuccessful attempt in 2010.
“In 2010 I thought I did great for the amount of money I spent,” Harley said, adding he felt he wasn’t specific enough about his platform.
“This year I am pinpointing exactly what that plan is,” Harley said.
His platform is to lower property taxes and utility rates. To achieve this, Harley has a three-point action plan: reduce spending, scrap the current utility plan and stop subsidizing non-essential services.
“I want us to go back to the 25-year plan rather than the 100-year plan,” Harley said. “We need a program that’s pay-as-you-benefit.”
Harley said anything longer than 25 years in the future and the current taxpayer likely won’t benefit. While he doesn’t want to burden future generations with debt, he doesn’t think building reserves up so residents 100 years from now don’t have to pay for their infrastructure is excessive.
To reduce spending, he’d like to see a hiring freeze of city staff and the elimination of at least two city departments: the economic development department and Build St. Albert. He said the economic development department would have to bring in a lot more business than it has been to cover its operating budget.
He’d like to see the city stop subsidizing what he says are non-essential services like transit, Servus Place and recreation, cultural and library services.
While he doesn’t want to cut funding completely to those services, he thinks user fees should cover more of the operating costs.
“Reduce service, higher fees or a combination of both,” he said.
His experience as a banker and financial planner would give council some expertise, he said, instead of having to rely on administration’s advice. Years as a lender means he knows how to turn people down if it’s the right financial decision.
“I know how to make the tough decisions and I know how to read financial statements,” Harley said.
He forecasted accountability, fiscal responsibility and the city’s decision making process as hot topics for this election. He would like to see the city initiate public consultation more proactively.
“I think that would solve a lot of their confrontations with their residents,” Harley said.
Harley and his wife have lived in St. Albert for over 30 years and have three adult children and five grandchildren. He’s been actively involved in volunteer roles like coaching various sports, Cubs and Scouts, canvassing for charities like the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the cancer society and volunteers for the St. Albert Rugby Club. He also is a board member for the local Progressive Conservative association.