I have been having a few thoughts percolating around in my mind for some time, trying to decide how to put them all together, as they are all related in some fashion. It all started off with me trying to find out why the taxes in this Town were $1,100 per $100,000 of assessment, and where that number came from. I took a shot as to who might be responsible, because, as we don’t have ward councilors to ask, I was left to guess. The councilor that I contacted got back to me, and copied other council members, as well as staff. I heard from a second council member, but neither offered to answer my question themselves, and instead, referred me to staff. I don’t know why they did that, as they were the ones approving the rate, so I would have thought that they would have known the answer.
This seems to be yet another reason for having ward councilors. You know where to find them, because they live in your community, and, more to the point, they won’t be able to dodge the uncomfortable questions, as our current councilors did. I have to wonder; if you don’t know this stuff, then why did we elect you?
I was pleased to see the response to the survey that this newspaper received regarding this issue of having ward councilors. I was particularly interested in noting the responses from those who had served before. Much of it appeared to be little more than fearmongoring, and playing to their own prejudices. I have lived all my life in municipalities that had Ward systems, and have even run for council in one of them. Running for an at-large seat takes a considerable amount of time and money. Running for a ward is a lot simpler and easier, and could attract a few more candidates who otherwise might find running for an at-large seat too daunting an undertaking. Yet another possible advantage of having ward councilors.
In the process of all this, I did find out that the municipal portion of our taxes was 51% of the total. That is 3 times the rate of where I last lived. I am used to school taxes taking up about 70% of my tax bill, with the rest going to county and municipality in approximately equal amounts.
Where I last lived, just north of Toronto, my taxes were $710 per $100,000 of assessment. Here in Kemptville, at $1100 per $100,000 of assessment, that works out to an increase 55%.
Assuming that the assessment on my house here in Kemptville will be $400,000, (MPAC still hasn’t got around to me, and I have been living here over a year now), that increase previously mentioned works out to $1560 per year. As far as I can tell, I’m not getting more services here than where I lived before, so where is my money going? My guess is that if I am paying 3 times more municipal tax than before, then that is probably where. Note to self; another question to ask when the next election rolls around.
Unlike a number of your correspondents, I don’t object to paying taxes as long as I understand the reasons and the process, not to mention the individual costs. Neither do I object to paying for social services, as we should be helping those less fortunate than ourselves. Some recent letters in this newspaper have also been about accountability and transparency. It would seem to me that we have precious little of either. It has been rightly pointed out that it is our money that is being spent, and we deserve to have a system where we know where our money is going, and, more importantly, why it is being spent where it is.
The system that we have seems to be more about bureaucracy than democracy. Maybe it is the sort of people who we elect. Somebody once told me that politicians are either opportunists or crusaders. I think that we need more of the latter if we expect anything to change.
Colin P. Creasey