Make no mistake. Tuesday’s council meeting was a touchstone moment for this group. How they proceed from here will likely define them heading towards the next municipal election. They know they are in an absolute mess, and now they need to find a way out. We’re talking a Death Star trash compactor kind of jam.
Coun. Tim Cartmell called the growing maintenance budget gap “a crisis in slow motion.”
“I think we really have to do this. This is one of my primary concerns coming out of budget, that there was not enough money allocated to capital maintenance renewal. I know it’s not the flashy stuff, but I frankly think this is one of our most critical issues. If we don’t get on it, we’re going to have trouble.”
That being said, Cartmell said he was nervous about the “tacit budget increase” that will come with the Dedicated Renewal Fund.
And Coun. Karen Principe warned that maybe the City has tried for too long to do too many things.
“My concern is that it seems council has too many priorities, and, realistically, it’s hard when you have so many priorities and we have to rely on the tax levy.”
Coun. Michael Janz warned that, without more money for maintenance, the City could face more Scona Pool situations in the future. Scona Pool was closed for a good when a mechanical failure forced a hard decision: that it was cheaper to shut it down than fix it.
The City, as part of its plan to cut costs, is undergoing what is being called “asset rationalization” in bureaucrat-speak. Basically, the city is assessing what it owns, and what could be jettisoned. If the City sells a building, it no longer has to maintain that building, so there could be some savings to be had. But City Manager Andre Corbould said it would never be enough to erase the maintenance budget deficit.