The first salvo in the race for city council was fired Tuesday, with candidate Ted Durham accusing the current council of wasting money and competing with the private sector.
Durham, a 21-year resident of St. Albert, made the comments at a meeting of the St. Albert’s Taxpayers Association, which responded with applause.
“I watched councillors say they will do something and it seems that every time we have (a new) council we get let down,” he told the 40-odd people in attendance.
“We have high taxes and I think with what our city has proposed, what council has proposed is unsustainable, and if it is sustainable it will drive many people out of town.”
Durham said residents could expect a tax increase of about eight per cent (including utilities) in 2014, based on numbers proposed by council this year.
If elected to council, he said his first motion would be to make council take control of its budget and work with available funds.
Expenditures such as the Capital Partnership Fund, the Downtown Area Redevelopment Plan and the expansion of the Servus Credit Union Place will make the city unsustainable, he said.
St. Albert was not only running in danger of losing young people and seniors because of high property taxes, it was also going to lose businesses.
“We are going to take (Servus Place) and we will put $29 million into it and then we will take people away from the other health clubs, private businesses in this town that pay taxes,” he said.
“We are a city that is competing with the private sector. And then we have an economic development committee that says ‘hey, come out to St. Albert and open your business.’”
Durham added the Alberta government would not aid the city in funding projects such as the LRT, with only 4,000 people using public transit now.
Instead the city should take the $500,000 set aside for the LRT study and make existing transit in St. Albert more accessible.
Durham said he is running for council because he is a sensible person and he wants to represent the people.
“I am running because we need to turn the tide of council and we need other people to step up that are accessible people, that will turn the tide and be responsible with your money,” he said.
“I don’t want to represent any businessman, any outside interest. I represent you.”