City Borrows $30 Million

Robert Thomas

There was no arguing that there are some major infrastructure repairs and replacements needed; it’s how it’s going to be paid for which had one councillor fearing the worst.

“I do not believe this is sustainable,” Councillor Brian Swanson said, as he requested a recorded re-vote of an August 27th Executive Committee decision to borrow $30 million.

Councillor Swanson expressed his opinion based upon what he saw as a weak economy, stagnant population and poor spending priorities of the past.

“My personal opinion is the economy of Moose Jaw is not strong,” Coun Swanson said before going into a litany of economic icebergs in the City's path.

“On a per capita basis we have gone from the least in debt with no debt to the most in debt,” he said.

Swanson called for using “reserves, rather than taking on speculative investments…I don’t doubt the work needs to be done. We are going to make a bad situation worse...and hope or pray this works for us. I don’t think it will.”

Councillor Chris Warren spoke about the problems but stated that there was a need to get the work done.

“There is no secret we are in a huge deficit when it comes to the waterworks utility,” he said, adding later “its an unbelievable decision to make but it is one that must be made.”

“We are at a point where we neglected spending on infrastructure for so long it’s (at a crisis point).”

Coun Warren spoke about negative effects on property taxes that would occur if the reserves were spent.

“To take away $70 million on reserves reduces our revenues we make. It will be in the double digits of tax increases…it’s not an easy decision but the reality is this where we are at right now.”

Despite Coun Swanson's opposition, Council voted 5–2 to borrow $30 million at an interest rate of 3.22 percent from the Bank of Montreal over 15 years.

Later during the vote for the actual bylaw authorizing the Borrowing Bylaw Coun Swanson got up from his Council seat and sat in a waiting area of the Council Chambers. He did not formally excuse or recuse himself from the vote. Because he did not vote the Bylaw received three readings as it was unanimous with a 5-0 vote.

It should be noted that if Coun Swanson had voted against the Bylaw it could not receive the unanimous support to complete all three readings. Under applicable legislation it also needs to be noted any abstention by a present council member is seen as an automatic no on the vote.

Following the Bylaw vote Coun Swanson returned to his seat.

The funds will pay for the new transmission line from the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant as well as water reservoir work.