Kelley Moore is positioning herself as an experienced civil servant ready to lead Saskatoon in a new direction.
The first-time mayoral candidate joined 650 CKOM’s Brent Loucks on Candidate’s Row Tuesday night.
She promoted her experience as a city planner, services director, and businessperson to show she has the background necessary to sit in the mayor’s chair.
Moore took issue with her rival Charlie Clark’s claims from Monday night’s Candidate’s Row that he had never seen her at a council meeting or involved with major issues facing the city.
“I sat on the Meewasin Valley Authority Board with both Mr. Clark and Mr. Atchison from 2008 to 2010,” she said. “So how they can say that I haven’t been at the table is beyond me.”
She added while Clark has been involved in city affairs for the past decade, she’s had 20 years experience dealing with city planning and business in Saskatoon.
LOWERING TAXES TO RAISE REVENUE
Moore also disputed Clark’s claim that she wants to shift the municipal tax burden from businesses to residents.
While she supports lowering the city’s business tax from 1.75% to 1.43%, she says this would actually raise tax revenues and residential taxes wouldn’t be affected.
She said when the tax was lowered in 2001, $1.7 billion was the result for the community. She says lowering the rate to 1.43% would generate a further $1.4 billion.
“When we invest in business tax by decreasing it, that allows businesses to grow,” she said. “Which means that allows them to… expand their companies which allows us to tax them more but at the same rate.”
The decrease had been debated in council in 2013, but was ultimately pushed back for another debate set to take place next year. Clark opposed the decrease then, saying it was unfair when council had already established residential taxes would be increasing over several years.
CHANGING APPROACH TO INFRASTRUCTURE MAINTENANCE
Moore is also proposing a shift in how road maintenance programs are tackled.
She said the City is plagued by inefficiency when it comes to repairs.
“How many times have we seen a road crew come out to fix a pothole, then two days later fix the pothole next to it?” she asked. “That’s about productivity and efficiency at city hall.”
Moore said if efficiency is improved, it would save taxpayers money and allow for more co-ordinated repairs. She criticized incumbent Don Atchison for seeming “surprised” the $30-million road levy didn’t have the desired effects.
“He was surprised because he wasn’t looking at the bigger picture,” she said.
To improve the road strategy, Moore said she would implement a system in which a map would indicate to both officials and the public where repairs are needed and how far along they are.
FOCUSED ON BUILDING UP EXISTING NEIGHBOURHOODS
As a former city planner, Moore was also asked about where she would focus development within Saskatoon.
She said as mayor she would focus on growing existing neighbourhoods rather than expanding outwards. She would also support an “aggressive” in-fill development program with existing city lands and focus on adding residents to the downtown area.
“Mr. Atchison 13 years ago said he was going to bring 10 thousand people downtown,” she said. “It grew about 700 people.”
She said there hasn’t been enough support for in-fill growth, and incentives need to be created for developers.
Those carrots could include making existing neighbourhoods and the downtown more attractive by adding bus rapid transit and increasing the frequency of routes, and building along those transportation lines.
While downtown development is a priority for her, Moore said a replacement for Sasktel Centre is not on her radar.
“The building will last, it’s not my top priority,” she said. “We have to get our deficit and taxes under control first.”
CRIME, THE LIGHTHOUSE
Moore also touched on the issue of crime, listed by many citizens as a top concern in the election.
She said she’s heard concerns of different kinds of criminal activity throughout the city, from graffiti to violence. She noted when Atchison was elected Saskatoon was the “crime capital of Canada” and in the years since, that hasn’t changed.
“We need to all be working together to address violent crime… as well as property crime,” she said. “I want to see us set targets and make Saskatoon one of the safest cities in Canada.”
Moore was also asked her thoughts on The Lighthouse receiving a funding cut from the province.
She said the community is relying too heavily on the facility to assist with both the homeless and those suffering from addictions. She suggested separate facilities would better serve the “very different needs” of those currently using The Lighthouse.
Candidate’s Row continues Wednesday night at 7 p.m. on 650 CKOM as Brent Loucks hosts Don Atchison. Devon Hein will wrap up the series on Thursday.