The decision to run for City Council is not one to take lightly, especially with terms of four years rather than three beginning with this election.
Councillor Kent Goodwin, who has announced he will seek a second term on Council, says the learning curve is so steep that much of the first term is spent absorbing procedures, legislation and protocols. Therefore, it would be irresponsible not to go for a second term in order to give the tax payer a return on their investment.
“Now that I have some understanding of all of this, it would be somewhat irresponsible not to run for a second term and put that knowledge to (hopefully) better use,” he said.
“I have been encouraged by the progress that the City is making toward increasingly professional and thoughtful policies and procedures, strategic plans and accountability measures which will lead to more efficient and productive decision making. I would like to serve a second term to help move that process along.
“The current Council has taken a very important first step in addressing the infrastructure deficit by enacting new sewer and water taxes and fees to build an infrastructure reserve. With this money (and hopefully matching funds from the Provincial and Federal Governments) we can make some real progress on replacing old sewer and water lines before they fail. However, those underground services are only part of our infrastructure and we need to figure out how to fund the rest. I would like to serve another term to see if we can make some more progress on this issue.”
Dealing with infrastructure means that you will hear some ‘no’ votes from him, Goodwin says.
“Part of this process will be the need to resist the construction of new infrastructure (no matter how good it might appear) that we cannot afford to maintain. So you are likely going to hear me say “no” to projects that I really wish I could say “yes” to.”
Taxation is another issue Goodwin sees as a priority.
He says he believes Kimberley now has the highest municipal taxes in the East Kootenay, and managing operation spending to keep it within the rate of inflation is very important.
“Several members of the current Council, including myself, have been pushing for a service review to look for ways to improve efficiency and prioritize the services we offer. Such a review should include consultation with the citizens of Kimberley. Hopefully, the new Council will make more progress on this issue than the current one.”
Goodwin also has an issue with the flat tax. He says Kimberley is one of only five communities with a flat tax and it is by far the largest of the five. He’d like to see $300 of the flat tax switched to the mill rate.
“Most communities rely on mill rate taxes which collect money proportionate to the value of the property. Kimberley has both mill rate taxes and a flat tax and with the new infrastructure reserve tax and utility fees, the proportion of our taxes not based on property value continues to rise. I will be pushing to shift $300 from the flat tax to the mill rate tax to offset the taxes and fees and take a small step toward a more fair tax system.”
Two project begun in the last term have to be managed properly as well, Goodwin says — the Mark Creek Flume Project and the SunMine.
“It came as quite a shock to learn that the total costs of the Flume reconstruction had ballooned by over 50 per cent. A portion of that increase is justifiable since we decided to extend the new construction from the top of the existing flume to the orange footbridge and to purchase two more properties to improve the overall design. But it is troubling that other portions of the project did not have more realistic estimates.”
Goodwin hopes that the Auditor General’s guidance document ‘Oversight of Capital Project Planning and Procurement’ can assist the City in managing future projects.
As for the SunMine, Goodwin says he did not vote in favour of proceeding with the project, because he felt the financial risks to the taxpayer were too great. But it is going ahead.
“I have now joined the SunMine Steering Committee to help build the best solar farm we can and minimize those risks.”
Other priorities for Goodwin include the City’s role in funding non-profits — “I would continue to support small grants to non-profits and have suggested that we set a target percentage of our budget that would be used for this purpose —probably in the one to two per cent range”; and branding.
“We have taking a major step forward with the new community brand, which is much more than a tourism marketing tool. It is important that we continue to invest in keeping that brand fresh and expanding the ways we propagate it out into the world.”
Goodwin has all his ideas and priorities, as well as his experience and history, outlined on his website at http://kentforcouncil.blogspot.ca/