In 2018. Owen and Jo Genert moved back to Maple Creek full of expectation. Their connection to the community went back many years; they loved the friendly, small-town atmosphere, the location, and the “best” weather.
Unfortunately, their high hopes foundered on the rocks of high taxes, apparent mismanagement of snow removal after a storm last year, the poor condition of some sidewalks and streets, and a perceived lack of transparency and public consultation by the municipality. They have now called for a “long overdue” professional business audit to be carried out into the Town of Maple Creek, saying other residents share their concern.
The Generts expressed their disappointment and dissatisfaction with the Town in a September 15 letter to Mayor and Council. At their request, the letter was read at the October 12 Town Council meeting. Michelle McKenzie, the Mayor, did the reading.
In the letter, the couple said they had returned to Maple Creek to be close to family members and friends.
“Unfortunately, we have been disappointed since moving to Maple Creek,” the letter said.
“The taxes in Maple Creek were a bit of a shock in comparison to other small communities in Saskatchewan.
“Can the Council explain why the taxes in Maple Creek are the highest or near the top of all communities in Saskatchewan and have been for many years?
“Then we observed what appeared to be total mismanagement of snow removal during the snowstorm of 2020, where we did not see any snow removal equipment in the Harrigan Crescent area of town for 9 days! This is totally unacceptable by any standards, especially when some other streets were cleared more than once. We understand there must be priorities and that this was an unprecedented storm, but can you imagine if the highways operated in this fashion? As a former highway’s employee of 44 years, I can tell you this has never happened!
“Taking on a multimillion-dollar pool project when some of the sidewalks and streets are in poor condition and in dire need of repaving/repairing is another concern.
“Major infrastructure projects that require a levy from residents should be openly announced prior to start with information and opportunity for public input. Where was the public consultation?
“And then came the latest unprecedented tax increase. There appears to be a lack of understanding in the taxation system, the effects of the reassessment and the impacts to the tax paying residents and businesses in the Town of Maple Creek.
“Where was the notice or information to the residents and businesses regarding the assessments and the proposed tax increases to the taxpayers? Again, a lack of transparency is obvious.
“From what we have seen and heard, the meetings regarding the tax increases produced no reasonable, logical explanation and even worse no plan to correct it. Driving business and residents away will hurt the sustainability of town which is already struggling to survive.
“Why are the taxes so high in Maple Creek? Because the expenses are so high?
“Why are the expenses so high?
“We are not the only residents who believe a professional business audit is long overdue.
“From one of many concerned residents of Maple Creek.”
Councillor Cara Teichroeb said Council always welcomed letters from the public.
She said that people should make it clear whether they wanted their letters to be read out.
McKenzie said Council would not read out letters unless directed to do so by the writer.
She added Council acknowledged receipt of all letters.