Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor, I would like to comment on the recent position taken by St Marys Municipal Council on the matter of the funding request from the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. The decision to not support the funding request was taken very seriously and after much review and deep thought. The Hall of Fame has been in our community for a number of years and the original concept was that it would be independent and self-sustaining. The request for $550,000 in capital money and $150,000 a year for operating expenses required some reflection. We have many challenges to wisely spend taxpayer’s dollars. We are currently focusing on working to bring roads and bridges up to specification, a process that is very costly. We also are evaluating the condition of current assets in terms of maintenance and capital improvement, also very costly. A further complication is that we are in a period of uncertain provincial and federal funding for many of our capital assets. There is a growing focus on transit and urban issues at both upper levels of governments. Rural municipalities are being under funded. These are real issues for every taxpayer. We also have to be aware of scale of projects that our population size can bear. The ongoing operating cost hangover of the PRC is a good example. Our annual operating costs have escalated and we still have a major capital debt associated with that investment. To do a fair assessment on the funding request, we commissioned two expert studies done. The first was a legal analysis of the request and it’s implications by the firm of Strong, MacDougall and Oudekerk. The second was an economic benefits analysis conducted by Watson and Associates. The reports of these organizations disputed many of the numbers put forth and pointed out that this plan was fraught with risk. We have to consider the situations and needs of every taxpayer when considering a request of this size. I talk to citizens every day that are struggling with current costs, who are on fixed incomes, are single parents, have small children or are in job transitions. Without a plan that instills confidence we could not, in all conscience, support this request. Sincerely, Al Strathdee Mayor Town of St. Marys

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