Dick Carpani for Mayor
Debt Load Lighter
Sarnia received a boost this week from an unlikely ally in its crusade to annihilate the City’s debt.
The mayor was gleeful after learning the Ontario government had decided to forgive, the city's remaining $5.3 million loan from the soon-to-be-defunct Ontario Downtown Revitalization Program.
Sarnia, like many other Ontario communities, took out a multi-million dollar loan in the early 1980s to pay for construction of new malls. In Sarnia's case, it was $7 million for the former Sarnia Eaton Centre, now the Bayside Mall.
The mayor had good reason to be happy.
The city's debt load had been creeping higher and higher and is a millstone around the collective neck of ratepayers. Most of the debt has been accumulated under Bradley's watch. (Emphasis added)
The accumulated debt and approved spending peaked at $96 million in 2003, about twice the spending-to-debt ratio of other cities.
When The Observer sounded the alarm over the troubling fiscal predicament, Mike Bradley and others at city hall jumped to their own defence, suggesting the newspaper was needlessly alarming residents and jeopardizing badly-needed projects.
Then in 2003, the debt load became an election issue. Council did take action and three years ago adopted a fiscal fitness program that has trimmed the debt a whopping $17 million, to $ 79 million.
At the same time, reserves have increased by $2 million.
There's still a long way to go, but the mayor and councillors deserve credit for exercising restraint, for the benefit of current and future residents.
The province's decision to forgive nearly $40 million in debt to Samia and communities in similar situations only makes sense.
As Bradley noted, on the current repayment schedule of $40,000 a year, it would have taken Samia 136 years to pay it off.
Hardly the kind of legacy we want to leave for our great-grand-children.
(Editorial in The Sarnia Observer 2006 07 14)
|Date This PageWas Last Up-Dated: July 14, 2006|