Tuesday, October 28, 2014 @ 9:34 AM
Prince George, B.C. – Albert Koehler is seeking a second term on Prince George City Council.
Koehler has been an advocate for minimal tax increases and the elimination of the practice of fluoridating the water supply.
Koehler says there has been quite a bit of critique on the hiring of a consultant to look at snow removal and fleet maintenance “That was a decision by Administration and they have the right to make that decision.” He says Council did not have an opportunity to support or reject the hiring Mercury Associates for the $130 thousand dollar report.
He says the problem with fleet maintenance, was “clearly a management problem”. The fleet maintenance report says more than 50% of the fleet is outdated and needs to be replaced.
“Maintenance is not just repairing machinery anymore\’ says Koehler “We threw hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix machinery that should have been replaced long ago.”
He says he often feels he has not been given all the information a councillor should have in order to do the job as the governing body.
“I don’t like to micro manage, but the important things that affect all of us in Prince George, I would like to know.”
A former member of the Prince George Symphony, he says he supports the Performing Arts centre, but not at this time, “You look at 50, 60 million dollars, who wants to go into debt for that kind of money, we can’t do it. We have to look at the needs first, I call it essential services, roads, snow and such.”
He says he cannot see a Performing Arts Centre coming to fruition in the next four years.
Koehler says he has advocated last year, and this year, that any potential tax increase should not be higher than the cost of living. He says with the increases in user fees, boosting taxes is, in his words, a double whammy “Our taxes have increased over the past ten years by 50% and that’s not right.”
He says the draft budget which proposed a 2.5% hike was not what he expected, as he had hoped the budget would by closer to 1.8% “I had asked if we could provide all the services at 1.8% and the answer was yes, so I am not happy with this.”
He says the storm utility is “garbage, it’s another tax grab. we have to look at the money we have and do it better.” He says the increases in taxes plus the increases in other services would put the increase by about 3.5%. “We have to be leaner, not meaner.” He says business works with the money it has, and the city has to learn to do the same “They aren’t used to that.”
Social housing is a provincial matter says Koehler, “But we should do what we can do.” He says there needs to be a strategy, communication, common sense and can-do, “And that gets you as far as you can, we have to have that around the Council table.”