Chris Davis, Pincher Creek Voice
|Rod Zielinski resigns from MD Council after|
almost 14 years of service
C. Davis photo
The crowd gathered at the meeting thanked him for his time and service to the community with a spontaneous standing ovation.
Zielinski has been the MD of Pincher Creek No. 9 Division 3 Councillor for almost 14 years. "I first got elected in October of '95," he explained after the meeting. "I went for, I think, two terms, so that was 6 years. I got off and David McNeill took a turn, then I got back on and served until today."
I asked him what the biggest issues were during his time on council. "Obviously, the windmills...and planning. Planning how people can develop is a really sticky one, but a really important issue."
Zielinski said fiscal planning was an issue that really mattered to him. "What I've suggested over the years is that the MD should go to a three-year budget. Plan tax increases for the people, whether it is 1 or 2 percent per year, and live within that budget. Right now the budgets we run are a wish list, and then we say 'How are we going to collect the tax dollars'. On a three year budget, things do change for sure, but if you can go out to the public to say 'You will have a 2 percent tax increase... if you don't do anything to your place, if there's no extra improvements... you will have a 2 percent increase in your tax bill, and now the MD has to run the services and run within that budget. I think that would be a smart idea, I think it would make us make smart decisions. It doesn't allow us to come up with new bright ideas overnight. They would have to be planned, which may be good or bad. Hopefully the council of the day has their long-range plans and the services that people want in order, and tries to control costs.
Zielinski said he was in favour of the proposal to have municipal councils serve 4 years instead of the 3 they currently serve. "I think it's a good idea, specially for new councillors. New councillors in their first year are getting their feet wet. it takes them maybe a year and a half. Four years gives you that much more flexibility. It is more of a commitment."
Zielinski said he was leaving for two reasons, work and lifestyle. "I'm going from basically two jobs with 200 to 300 hours of overtime every year to a 9-to-5 job with no wind."
His message to his successor, who will be chosen in a by-election to finish out the current term, was succint. "Good luck. Listen to the people and please be as open to the public as possible." When he announced his resignation during the meeting he said "You've got a very good opportunity, if you're interested, to walk in basically for a year, to see what the job is all about and then when the next election comes up decide whether it's something you want to do."
"I do encourage whoever is sitting there to hold meetings like this."
To his constituency Reeve Zielinski said "Thank you. It's been an experience, most of it pleasurable, with some trying times, but I wouldn't have traded it for anything else."
Note: The public meeting hosted by Reeve Zielinski at the Coalfield School will be the subject of a separate upcoming story.