The MSI shell game

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It is curious to watch the intellectual gymnastics on display in an effort to justify the decision to revoke the 30 per cent of the MSI grant previously allocated to utility capital projects.

Both Mr. Korotash and Mr. Popadynetz, justify this change in fiscal policy on the basis that the MSI grants could at any moment be cancelled. However, there seems to be no basis in fact for this trumped up fear. The provincial government’s position on MSI Grants is as follows: “This funding under the new fiscal year, combined with the additional funding provided under Budget 2014 ensures municipalities have the resources to meet their current infrastructure project commitments. Funding for the MSI program remains steady, consistent and predictable.”

For any provincial government to embark on a program of defunding the municipal grants under MSI would be political suicide and consequently is simply not going to occur. Korotash and Popadynetz have simply thrown up a straw man that they can knock down with ease because they have no other solid explanation as to why money previously dedicated to utility capital projects should now be used for other capital projects that they prefer … such as the mayor’s “vision” for a new civic building.

The reason that this council chose to cancel the 30 per cent MSI allocation to utilities is because utility rates is one of the few areas a municipal corporation can use to collect money from the citizens. Since further property tax increases in this city would be totally unacceptable, they chose this route to raise more money for their tax and spend policies.

It is noticeable that there is never any discussion about introducing efficiencies into the government system so that the existing moneys they collect will be sufficient to operate the city in a viable manner. If they had not decided to spend $500,000 on an LRT study, $4.9 million on their St. Anne road to nowhere, and increased staff by 28 people, the citizens of St. Albert would not be experiencing this increase in utility rates.

Gord Hennigar, St. Albert

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