The importance of competition

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"Competition is the keen cutting edge of business, always shaving away at costs." – Henry Ford

A town, while not a business, still needs to compete. A town competes for residents, businesses, and thus tax dollars. We often talk about past performance within Morinville, but it’s more important to compare the town against the competition because we need to ensure we are providing the right services at the right price to attract to new residents and businesses.

Morinville currently has some challenges in providing the right services. We don’t have a pool, a rec centre, a connected trail system, and in two years we won’t have a hockey rink as our current one will be condemned. We have a significant deficit in recreational infrastructure in Morinville compared to similar towns in Alberta. This greatly reduces our ability to compete on quality.

In the business world, this would be called a ‘low quality, low price’ strategy. Take the ‘bells and whistles’ out of your product, and sell it for as low as possible. Personally, I don’t agree with this strategy for Morinville and I’d rather pay for some bells and whistles, but personal opinion aside, it’s a valid strategy, with one exception.

Comparing the mill rate of Morinville to six other alternative communities is surprising. St Albert is at the top with a rate of 10.41, with Morinville directly below at 9.29. Down from there is Leduc, Devon, Beaumont, Stony Plain, and Ft Sask, with rate from 8.78 to 7.24. Morinville isn’t anywhere near “low-cost”.

From 2008 to 2013, Morinville has had one of the highest residential tax rates of any comparable community, second only to St. Albert. In the business world there isn’t a “low-quality high-price” strategy. That lack of competitiveness is called “imminent bankruptcy”.

Ask your candidates if they have the desire to compete with other communities instead of just looking for a “personal best” performance. Demand that candidates tackle the high staffing expense per resident, the high operating loss of the cultural centre, and the continual cost overruns from projects like the new town hall. Morinville desperately needs to shave away some costs in order to compete, and we need a council that recognizes a “high-cost low-quality” strategy isn’t sustainable.

Let’s make sure our town can compete.

Sean Strang, Morinville

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