Budget 2019-20:  Community Consultation

"It's Your Money.  Tell Us How to Spend It."  Summerside residents and/or business owners/operators please answer our 20 questions and if you provide your name, address and contact information you will have a chance to win one of our prizes:  a membership to Credit Union Place (your choice of a six month family membership or a one year single membership), an IPAD Mini or one of ten $25 gift certificates to a downtown restaurant.  The survey closes on Friday, December 14, 2018 at 4:30 PM (AST) and the prize winners will be drawn on Monday, December 17, 2018.  Thank you for your participation.

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* 1. Policing Priorities for a Safe and Secure Community
Police Services works to ensure a safe community for all residents.  They dedicate resources to investigating many types of offences over the course of a year.  Here is a small sampling of Police Services activities (statistics are from 2017):
Activity # in 2017
Traffic offences (e.g. speeding, handheld devices) 1943
Threats, Suspicious Persons 1340
Property crimes, Adults and Youth 943
Crimes against persons (e.g. assaults) 333
Noise complaints (Grass cutting, loud parties, etc) 300
Motor Vehicle Accidents 280
Major crime investigations (major frauds, etc) 280
Drug enforcement and related crimes 147
Impaired Driving (blow over .08, refusal, etc) 111
Internet crimes (bullying) 28
What do you think should be the Police Department’s top priority?

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* 2. Maintaining Current Infrastructure vs Building New Infrastructure
The City maintains critical infrastructure (e.g. sewer, water, storm water systems) on behalf of residents.  Much of this infrastructure is hidden underground, out of sight and out of the minds of many people.  Much of this infrastructure is old and prone to failure.  One of the biggest challenges facing the City is deciding between fixing old or building new infrastructure.
The City is looking to the public to provide guidance on municipal infrastructure spending.  What is more important in your opinion?

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* 3. Support for Non-Profit Organizations
The City contributes $500,000 annually of your tax dollars to non-profit organizations on your behalf.   These organizations are helping to provide services that otherwise would be asked of the City.  In addition the City also provides many in-kind supports to non-profit organizations that cost at least another $200,000 for a grand total of about $700,000.  This amount represents about 1.6% of property tax revenue.  To put this in context here are a few other examples to compare:

              * Fire Protection = 2.5%
              * Snow Clearing = 2.6%
              * Street Lighting = 1.9%
              * Information Technology = 1.2%
With fixed resources, this means that the City has less of your tax dollars to spend on delivering municipal programs and services such as:
              * Police and Fire Protection
              * Snow Clearing
              * Sport and Recreational Facilities
              * Arts, Heritage and Culture Activities  
How much in  tax payer dollars should be used to support non-profit organizations?

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* 4. Active Transportation
The City’s transportation network consists of 120 km of streets, 51.4 km of sidewalks, 11.3 km of trails systems.  Almost 100% of the money spent on City streets ($1.36 million) is used to make improvements for  motorized vehicle traffic not for bicycle or pedestrian traffic.  Research shows that better bike infrastructure gets more people riding their bikes.  The City would like to get more people actively transporting themselves around the City on a daily basis by biking, walking, skating, jogging etc.  The City would like to increase linkages and expand our current network bike lanes, trails, boardwalks and sidewalks without increasing the City’s overall budget.
What (%) of the City’s 1.36 million dollar street improvement budget would you dedicate for making improvements for bike and pedestrian traffic?

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* 5. Advertising Expenses
The City spends approximately $250,000 in advertising costs throughout the year to publicize events, festivals, special meetings, public tenders.  The City could reduce advertising expenses by cutting back on traditional media such as radio, newspapers and publications, but fewer people would be reached as a result.
Please rank the type of media which works best to reach you (with 1 being the best and 6 being the worst)

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* 6. User fees to support programs and facilities
To maximize inclusion of as many citizens as possible, fees for recreation programs are kept below the actual costs to run them.  On average, for every $1 dollar it costs to run a program, only about $.45 cents is recovered.  Some might say this percentage is a fair and reasonable price to pay for inclusion and affordability.  Others might say not everyone uses every program and it is unfair that citizens who rarely or never use the programs must subsidize those who do.  Still other might say affordability and inclusion are shared values and therefore all citizens who pay property tax should support these values.
How do you feel about recreation fees and the actual costs to run programs?

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* 7. Reserves for Future Expenditures
Municipal reserves are like a person's savings account, serving as a "rainy day" fund for emergencies or rare opportunities or used from time to time to reduce the amount of borrowing needed to make a big purchase.  Some have argued that the City's reserves are too low and that more tax dollars should be dedicated to building up healthier reserves.  To accomplish this, more tax dollars would need to be re-allocated from existing programs and services. 
Do you believe that building reserves is a worthwhile goal even if it means reducing the levels of some services or do you believe that service levels should not be reduced in any way?
Would you be in favor of an increase in reserves if it means a property tax increase or lower capital expenditures?

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* 8. Cost to Developers for Infrastructure
Canadian municipalities charge fees to developers to help pay for technical services provided to them.  Summerside's fees are comparable with the average.  These fees, however, do not cover the true cost to administer developers' applications.  Some people say that low fees for developers could encourage growth and new prosperity for the community.  Other people believe that developers should build in the full costs when calculating their profit target.
What is your opinion?

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* 9. Typical Budget Scenario Facing Mayor and Council
Pretend you are a Councillor or the Mayor and Council's deliberation of the budget has led to a shortfall of $120,000.  The Municipal Government Act prohibits a municipality from approving a budget in a deficit position.

What would you, as Mayor or Councillor be in favor of doing?

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* 10. Extra Money! What to do?
During the winter, PEI experienced many blizzards with extremely heavy snow falls, this caused snow clearing costs for municipalities across PEI to soar.  After the City of Summerside budget was approved, the Government of PEI issued an unexpected one-time payment of $500,000 to the City to help with snow clearing costs experienced the previous year.    Due to lighter than normal snowfall amounts in the current fiscal year, snow clearing cost came in under budget.

If you were a member of City Council, what would you do with these unexpected funds?

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* 11. City of Summerside Fire Stations
The City currently has 2 fire stations - Station #1 (Foundry Street) & Station #2 (West Drive).  Analysis shows Summerside could save by only having one station (if it was centrally located).  The largest and oldest of the two stations (Station #1 on Foundry Street) is over 50 years old. It is aging quickly and will soon need replacing.  Station #2 is newer but is too small and not centrally located in the community.  There are currently no Federal or Provincial funding programs for Fire Stations.  Communities in need of new Fire Stations must pay for them 100 % by themselves.  Many residents of PEI pay fire dues to help support their community’s volunteer fire department; residents of the City of Summerside do not currently pay fire dues.
Would you be open to the idea of paying annual fire dues like other resident in other PEI communities for the construction of a new Fire Station for Summerside’s volunteer fire department?

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* 12. City of Summerside’s Bedeque Bay Waterfront Trail System
Summerside’s waterfront trail commonly known as “The Boardwalk” is now ten years old.  The trail is made up of a variety of surfaces; the trail is part concrete, asphalt, gravel, dirt and wood.  It is really starting to show its age and deteriorating more quickly with each passing year.  Each year the wear and tear it receives becomes more and more expensive to repair and maintain especially the wooden sections of the trail.  The wooden boardwalk sections of the trail are also one of the City’s biggest risks from an insurance perspective.
Which option do you prefer in efforts to maintain and improve our waterfront trail system?

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* 13. Graffiti
Our citizens take great pride in their community.  In 2018 graffiti has drawn upon the resources of police, parks crew as well as dollars spent to remove hundreds of instances of graffiti all over the city.  This destructive vandalism has upset many citizens.  The city estimates the removal has cost taxpayers in the range of $60,000 in materials, supplies, hired labour and management time.  It is important to note that this expenditure was not a part of the annual budget and required reduced spending on other programs which citizens value (e.g. parks and greenspace maintenance).  Like it or not, municipalities must address this allocating resources  which costs money.
$60,000 represents the revenue collected on $.01 cent of the property tax rate.  Would you be in favor of a $.01 cent property tax rate increase which would be allocated for the removal of graffiti?

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* 14. Downtown Renewal
A robust, vibrant and active downtown area is viewed by many as being essential for a healthier and welcoming community.  Integral to downtown renewal is the development of a mix of affordable and higher-end housing to attract young and old alike.
How important is it for the City of Summerside to facilitate/encourage people to live downtown?

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* 15. Downtown Renewal
Still with the theme of downtown renewal and revitalization, there are a number of vacant commercial properties in the downtown.  To redevelop the area may cost approximately $500,000.
Would you be in favor of the City contributing to the repurposing of old buildings?  If so, to what extent would you be in favor of the city supporting this redevelopment?

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* 16. Safety and Security Policing
One of the priorities listed in question one was speeding.  Recently there has been a steep increase in complaints regarding speeding.  Of those polled in 2017, 69% said that we should maintain current level of spending on police services.  Would you be in favor of increasing resources, such as equipment, staffing, enforcement and legal costs to tackle speeding or increasing budget to address the speeding problem.  Demands on police resources are significant other than traffic (e.g. criminal cases such as: child pornogophy, domestic disputes, theft, impaired driving, court appearances, administration).  It is important to note that police resources are finite and allocating more resources to one priority necessarily means reducing resources for a different priority (e.g. any of the above listed issues).
Do you think speeding is a serious issue in the City of Summerside?

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* 17. Economic Development
The City and partners work collaboratively together in ensuring our municipality is economically positioned to attract and retain business enterprise within our municipal boundaries to grow our important business assessment, provide an environment for meaning jobs and grow entrepreneurship and grow our population.
Here are some of the challenges:
    * lack of available space and/or land
    * slow growth in the retail and service sectors
    * poor access to capital
    * insufficient private sector activity to stimulate new opportunities
    * labor force availability and access

What do you believe would be the best way to seize growth opportunities? 

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* 18. Transit
The City has been operating a public transit service since 2012.  The service runs through the downtown by way of Granville Street, and out to Slemon Park.  One of the challenges with the service is low ridership and perceived challenges with the scheduling and convenience of the bus routes.  Residents who use the service have commented that they would use the service more frequently if the scheduling and location of bus routes would be more convenient.
Would you utilize the City's public transit system more often if the bus routes and pickup times could be made more convenient for you?

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* 19. Giving Back to the Community
Summerside is the only community in PEI that owns and operates its own electric utility.  To meet the needs of its customers, Summerside Electric needs to operate a stable, robust and secure system of generation and transmission.  To ensure the ongoing security and reliability of this service, the electric utility requires approximately $3.5 million per year in capital re-investment, in order to maintain basic and essential infrastructure.  The utility provides electricity through a combination of wind generation and more carbon-intensive sources such as from New Brunswick Power.  Approximately 45% of the energy we receive, comes from wind.  While wind energy is more environmentally-friendly, it is very costly to produce.  Summerside's wind farm will soon require replacement, as it is over ten years old.  However, continued access to this resource will enable the City to continue offering clean energy as well as access to programs such as Heat-For-Less.
Would you be in favor of the City investing more in wind generation if it meant a rate increase more than has been in the past?

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* 20. Thank you for participating in our survey.  We may not have been able to capture all priorities of the municipality.  We have looked at areas such as public safety, downtown development, and planning for future needs, among others.  Is there anything we may have missed?  What do you feel the new council should consider as a priority?

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* 21. Summerside Residents and Business Owners/Operators:
Please enter your name and contact information for a chance to win one of our prizes.  Thank you.

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* 22. Please indicate your age within the following ranges:

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