by Stephen Hammond
News Headline: “Federal, Provincial, and Municipal governments continue to reduce tax burden. All public debts to be paid off in two years. Canadian Dollar now worth $11US. The Economy is not growing, but it doesn’t matter because there’s no inflation. Poverty non-existent as median family income exceeds $200,000 for the first time in history (year 2000 constant dollars).
Experts studying the matter have determined that, given the accelerated debt payoff of all government debts, the total average federal and provincial tax rates will fall to an annualized average of 15% of personal disposable income. All municipal property taxes would also be eliminated, due to larger than expected Federal and Provincial transfers to municipalities, and the dramatic increase in the efficiency of municipal government.”
The above is from the year 2018. Ok, Ok, don’t get too excited. It’s the year 2018, but sorry, the above news story is from another parallel universe (in my dreams). Or maybe it’s not 2018, but 2038 and robots do all the work and everything is owned by Amazon.
Back to reality.
So, I’m a disgruntled but hopeful taxpayer. To try to alleviate some of my disgruntlement, I went to the North Grenville Municipal 2018 budget meetings. All three meetings. And I mean the whole meeting, except I was a little late for the last two (made up for by the fact I was extra early for the first meeting). The following are some of the highlights:
1) Roll call(including myself);
– 7 members of the public were at the first meeting.
– 1 member of the public was at the second meeting (it was a little bit lonely).
– 3 members of the public were at the third meeting.
– there was no hide nor hair of the press present at any of the meetings.
Note: North Grenville has about 17,000 residents. I thought maybe I was attending a meeting in the Township of Cockburn Island which has two permanent residents.
Conclusion: There’s obviously nothing wrong with how the municipality is being run, council doesn’t need any help or consultation with the public, and everybody’s happy with their property tax rates.
2) At the first meeting, a few members of the public were interested in trying to get municipal taxpayers to fund a splashpad, bathroom, and small pavilion at Riverside park. Total cost about $375,000. ($100,000 from the municipality, and the rest from private funding/grants). There was general agreement that this might be a worthwhile project. However, for budgetary reasons, it was not approved. Also, there is already a splashpad at Equinelle. It was also not clear how much it would cost to maintain the facilities. It was mentioned that there were approximately 7,600 taxpayers in the Municipality, and this would add about 1% to the municipal portion of property taxes (not including ongoing maintenance and staffing).
Another member of the public requested increases in funding of $20,000 per year to improve the downtown through the C.I.P. It was not approved for budgetary reasons, but it was noted that the program had already been substantially expanded to the current funding level in prior years.
I could go on, but those were the big ticket requests from the public.
There were also a couple of other members of the public who had done some serious work scrutinizing the 195 page budget. Staff were complimented on the help provided in obtaining and analysing the budget.
Conclusion: The council recognizes the need to control costs.
Meetings 2 and 3.