Mayor of Rossland
Rossland’s City Council is off to a busy first term. With a new mayor, five new councillors and one seasoned hand returning after an absence of six years, we have plenty to learn. However, we are all having a great time and working extremely hard. It’s akin to jumping on a moving train; the business and challenges facing the city don’t stop to wait while we climb the learning curve.
Our first big project is to tackle the financial plan. Even for a small town like Rossland, it is a huge challenge. We have plans for our assets and infrastructure that require serious investment; more than has been done in the past.
Rossland is not alone in facing big financial challenges. Residents increasingly expect more, and better, services. Increased responsibility has been downloaded from senior levels of government onto the shoulders of municipalities. Some of these are health and safety requirements that were once the province’s responsibility. Some are the result of provincial cuts to social services and the reduction of financial contributions to infrastructure.
While cities have taken on more responsibility, we have not been allocated more funds to cover the costs. Only eight cents of every tax dollar collected in Canada goes to fund municipal expenses, despite the fact that municipalities are now responsible for 60 per cent of all infrastructure in the country.
In Rossland, we depend heavily on residential taxpayers because we do not have any other kind; there is very little industry or large commercial taxpayers located within our boundaries. The way we pay for the services and community support that you need and want, and what senior levels of government require us to provide, is primarily through taxes on your residential property.
Taxes can only go so high before the city becomes unaffordable, but the needs continue to grow and our infrastructure continues to erode. This is the challenge we face, and we want your ideas on how to address this! How do we preserve our city and quality of life, not only for ourselves, but for future generations?
To gather your input, council is using a Thoughtexchange process. If we have your email address, you will be invited to participate online. (Hint: send us your email so your voice can be heard! Just go to www.rossland.ca and sign up). For those without access to a computer, please call me (250-362-3319) and I will make sure we talk to you.
Council is also adopting a communications plan which will enable us to systematically reach out to you and keep you informed about the doings at City Hall. The plan includes conventional ideas like newsletters, updates in the press and online communications through Facebook and Bhubble. In addition, there’s the playful idea of “ski with a councillor” (or mayor!), or attend a casual, social event to chat about what’s important to you. Council is looking forward to implementing these ideas.
On a fun note, I am really looking forward to Winter Carnival and my first bobsled ride! I’ll truly be able to say that being Mayor of Rossland is a wild ride — and I love it!