Demands may exceed wish to hold line

So, the High Prairie and District Golf Club is next in line after asking money from the Town of High Prairie and Big Lakes County to operate.

The club is asking both governments for $15,000 yearly. On the surface, it seems like small potatoes when the indoor pool is losing over $450,000 a year in operations [I have not seen 2018 numbers yet].

C’mon, what’s a paltry $15,000 compared to the massive deficits at the pool? Do the math. The deficit would fund the golf club’s request for 15 years [half the deficit the town covers].

This year, the recreation department is asking for another $90,000 to be split evenly among the town and county councils. According to Mayor Brian Panasiuk’s report to council Feb. 12, the extra money is all but a done deal.

“The budget review committee felt that the increases were understandable given the move from a recreation board to a town department and supported bringing the budget forward to each council for approval,” he wrote.

Given the weight of the mayor’s voice, consider the request signed, sealed and delivered.

I have said this for many years. I cannot speak for the golf club, but if I were a member, I would have thrown the keys at the town council years ago and told them it was theirs to operate. Why bust your ass providing a valuable recreation asset to the region when another department continually gets more money?

Here we have a group of volunteers doing their best, but they are struggling. But struggle at the rec department? Just get more money from the taxpayer. Again and again and again. There is no reason to believe it will be different his time.

Aside from whether or not the recreation department actually needs more money, there is a deeper concern arising. Council repeatedly says they do not want to raise taxes. Yet, Mayor Panasiuk and others continually justify the need for increased spending.

You can’t have it both ways.

There is a hard reality here that Councillor Michael Long has been most adamant voicing his opinion. Paraphrasing, he says, “We’re here to make tough decisions.”

Long is right.

“Tough decisions” means saying no to requests for increased spending.

Or, something has to be cut.

The hard reality here is the easiest solution is to cut enhanced policing. The $100,000 saved will more than pay for the recreation department’s $45,000 request and the golf club’s $15,000 plus give council an extra $40,000 to spend.

To date, I have not heard any other solution offered. And Long is already on record as saying he is “out” as far as enhanced policing goes.

It is impossible to keep taxes from rising if you say yes to so many requests coming across your desk. This council has to learn that very quickly. At the rate they are spending, some service and/or services have to go, or they will rob from reserves, which is a very bad practice.

It is not easy to say no. It angers people. People come to expect a level of service and when it is cut, the reaction is not surprising.

The problem with government is they just keep forcing the taxpayer to pay. Pretty soon, as is the case in High Prairie, enough is enough. People are hurting.

Does council continue to spend and raise taxes, or what hits the chopping block? It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming weeks.

As for Panasiuk, he adds, “Moving forward we will be able to have better handle on the budget and can look for savings.”

Indeed, savings is something council should always be exploring, not just when times are tough.

Share this post

Post Comment