The following was released by Mayoral Candidate, Austin Williams:
The John Rhodes Centre is a beautiful building, often filled with delighted children, eager fans, families, even restaurant and bar-goers. A more careful examination exposes flaws. These flaws aren’t the building’s, or even the people who utilize it. These flaws are from central bureaucratic management. One of the side streets which service the John Rhodes Centre, McMeeken Street, is an absolute vehicle suspension destroying mess. The many years of bad repairs to Elizabeth Street which also services the Rhodes Centre can actually be seen from aerial view of Google Earth (I’m not joking, here is the link https://firstname.lastname@example.org,-84.3034795,124m/data=!3m1!1e3). Mark Street, which is also nearby the Rhodes Center, has a sewer grate in the middle of the road covered partially by asphalt. There is a real cost to drivers in this city due to such neglect and bad planning.
Those initiating the relocation of the library are claiming it would ‘pay for itself in 10 years’. This is based upon the odd idea that the savings from the library no longer paying $95,000 per year in rent, over a decade, can be subtracted from the one time moving cost of $1.5 million. There are other costs which have not been factored in by the bureaucrats. Chilly Willy’s claims to employ between 15 and 25 people depending upon the season. Those people who lose their jobs could be devastated, as will be the community by the loss of their spending power. Chilly Willy’s itself pays almost $5,000 per year in rent to the city, nearly $20,000 in municipal taxes and relinquishes 5% of sales. It would also be entirely fair to guess that like most government projects, the expenses for the library renovations will be over budget. If the lost revenue from Chilly Willy’s is factored in, it would take more than 21 years for the $95,000 rent ‘saved’ each year by the library to ‘pay for itself’.
I believe in sound economic policy, a tax code which can be navigated by the average person, and a government which doesn’t use voodoo economics to justify its expenditure. As part of my plan to cut city expenditures by 40% within four years, I would like to end the city monopoly over Public Works*, and instead give a yearly tax return of $1000 to every property owner. This is almost the amount already used for public works by the city per property tax payer. Thus individual neighbourhoods could determine when their road/sewers needs repair, and what company they wish to contract to do the work. I would also begin the process of selling the John Rhodes, and other community centres to private community members who wish to continue operating the facilities. By creating a real marketplace with competition over customer base, prices for using these institutions should go down. I would also maintain the contract with Chilly Willy’s Bar until such a time as the Rhodes is sold, at which point the contract can be renegotiated by the two new parties.
Finally, if the library is determined to move from its present location and expand, we should find an alternative location. Community members have suggested one of the plentiful centrally planned and subsequently out-of-use schools located throughout Sault Ste Marie. There is in fact one within walking distance of the library’s current location which may meet these requirements.
Besides all of that, when you go to the game, or your kids sport tryouts, you can’t drink a nice cold book, or buy a library burger for your hungry children. It makes more sense to have a restaurant to feed the hungry people conducting physical activities, rather than a library for people to walk through on a lark and walk back out. Even worse, if the bay windows overlooking the hockey arenas are not boarded up, almost inevitably groups of rowdy people will frequent the library to watch the games, ruining the solitude of the library for everyone, even potentially causing damage.
Unfortunately, rather than this decision being made upon the basis of mutually beneficial exchange and market forces, it is being decided based upon the personal opinions of bureaucrats. Since the people like having a restaurant available at the Rhodes, it should certainly, in my view, be able to stay.
Thank you everyone for considering my words on this subject.
I would like to invite everyone to follow me on Twitter @austinmarkwilli
*Exceptions to be found in my City Budget Cuts Document found at Facebook.com/awilliamsSSM