Without a doubt, residents in Regina need to get off their butts on September 25 and vote “NO” to save themselves some serious cash.
Yes, this is one of those rare moments where you can walk into the voting booth and vote for saving yourself money. If the “NO” side wins it will literally save Regina families a small fortune.
According to analysis conducted for the city, taxpayers will save a whopping $276 per year on their utility bills over the next four years. Think about that for a second. That’s the equivalent of a new big screen TV or a new washer and dryer.
Unless you have no need for an extra $1,000, taking a few minutes to vote is definitely worth your time.
But not only should Regina residents be interested in what’s going on, taxpayers in other parts of the province should encourage their local governments to follow Regina’s lead and pursue similar partnerships to save money.
What the city of Regina is doing with its wastewater treatment plant is akin to shopping around. Most people shop around before they make a big purchase like a car or computer, so it’s good for municipal governments to do the same before starting big projects like a $224 million sewage treatment plants.
But the city of Regina isn’t just hiring someone to build the plant and then walk away; the partner they select will also manage the system for decades to come. Thus, the builders have a strong incentive to not cut corners during construction or it will cause them nothing but grief once they start operating the plant.
In addition, the proposal also transfers risk to the partner chosen by the city.
That’s a huge benefit as everyone knows of a big government project that went way over budget with little more than a shoulder shrug by those in power.
For example, a recent Saskatchewan Workers Compensation Board (WCB) computer software project was supposed to cost $20.3 million, but came in at $33.2 million; 64 per cent over budget.
When the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), a donation-based taxpayers watchdog organization, looked into the cost overruns, we were told by the WCB that not a single employee was let go or faced so much as a pay cut for the huge blunder.
But that won’t happen with the city of Regina’s project, as the partner hired by the city will be responsible for any errors it makes during construction; not the taxpayer.
Another added benefit of having a private partner is on the operation side. Everyone knows if a city employee happened to accidentally spill a bunch of untreated sewage tomorrow into the environment the employee would probably be let off the hook.
However, with the partnership being proposed by the city, the city will be able to sue their partner if such mistakes are made.
As you can see, there’s a lot of upside to what the city of Regina is trying to do. Those in Regina should not only be scheduling time in their day to vote “NO” on the 25th, they should be encouraging their neighbors to do the same.
As for those outside Regina, you should be asking your municipal politicians about partnerships they could pursue to save money.
Colin Craig is the Prairie Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation