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  Sarnia Ontario Canada

Political cowardice

Sarnia council showed a lack of backbone when it voted to put off a crucial issue until after the November municipal elections.

Council decided not to decide what to do after receiving a report that calls for dramatic tax increases to help shore up the city's crumbling infrastructure.

Instead, it put the decision off until after the fall vote, claiming it didn't want to saddle the new council with massive new commitments.

But that's a moth-eaten excuse.

The current council had a great deal to do with the mess we find ourselves in today. Mayor Mike Bradley, for instance, has been on council for almost 21 years, including 18 years in the mayor's chair. The sewers, waterlines and roads fell to pieces on his watch, so he should take some of the political heat for the repair bill. And he should take it before the election, not after.

As Andre Morin, the city's engineering manager, pointed out, "a drastic deterioration of the asset network was observed" by those who conducted the latest study. And current spending levels are not "adequate to sustain the assets into the future."

For years now, council has allowed infrastructure to fall apart so it can look good at budget time. Now the chickens are coming home to roost.

While communities such as Chatham-Kent have kept their roads up over the years, we've reached a point in Sarnia where the infrastructure damage is so serious that it will take $126 million to fix it.

The engineering department is calling for a 2.3 per cent increase in the general property tax levy and four per cent hikes in both the water rate and the sewer rate.

The report that council ducked calls for the amount of money spent on maintaining existing infrastructure to be increased from $5.1 million a year to a staggering $19 million. If the recommendation is adopted, it will mean hefty new tax bills for years to come.

Political cowardice is behind the decision to duck this issue until after the election.

Hopefully, voters won't let the incumbent politicians off the hook so easily

Editorial the Observer Thursday, August 24, 2006


Date This Page Was Last Up-Dated:  August 26, 2006