Some Council Comments

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Jim Bertram

At the North Grenville Council’s June 11 Committee of the Whole meeting, results of the 2018 audit were highlighted. A small surplus was reported. Details of the audit in its entirety are available through the municipal office, but suffice to say that the result was encouraging.

And that is good news to a certain point as our hard-working new Council gets firmly established in their Council seats. Yet, the reporting auditor did give notice of some clouds on the horizon relative to local taxation, clouds which should be noted. Articles by myself and Steve Hammond in the Times over the last few months on the subjects of provincial downloads to municipal budgets and taxation levels, and our attendance at several Committee of the Whole meetings, have served to underline these problems for our municipality. I believe Council has been more and more responsive to the problems as presented thus far.

As evidence thereof, I was pleased to note that during the presentation of the audit mentioned above, Deputy-Mayor McManaman asked why it was , in the auditor’s opinion, that property tax payers in Toronto pay lower taxes comparatively than NG property tax payers. In response to the question raised by Mr. McManaman, the auditor, Mr. Allan stated: “We need, at some point in time, for the province to reconsider how they distribute taxes… In the long run, our property taxes are going to get ahead of us since we have a low commercial and industrial base.” Among other things, this reality makes accumulated and potential ongoing provincial downloads onto municipal budgets, and a paucity of compensatory grants, all the more onerous for small municipalities like ours, a point I have been making for a few years now. Downloads from the province exacerbate the basic fiscal reality alluded to by Mr. Allan. And, as Mr. Hammond has indicated clearly, disproportionately small to non-existent grants worsen the situation. These are not small issues for property owners/property taxpayers. I would like Council to take this broad issue on with vigour in future.

This general subject is significant in a number of ways. First of all, as MPAC jacks tax levels through the (your?) roof, it lowers your available cash flow for your personal consumption. And that doesn’t go unnoticed. Economic development is often significantly affected in terms of local consumption of goods and services and costs to business. Businesses won’t be attracted to a high tax area. In fact, they will seek to establish elsewhere if they have a choice. And they do.

Believe me, you will notice a difference on this issue within the next ten years if the problems broadly relating to local property taxation are not strongly addressed. Younger property owners will feel increasing pressure on their ability to own or acquire ownership of a home. The idea of purchasing a home and building equity in it is already a challenge for many. That challenge will grow.

What to do ? First, pay attention to the problem. Understand that it really is there. Check it out. Determine how it affects you. And then become active. Be an active representative of your point of view. If you wish to own property and receive the many attendant benefits of property ownership, stand up for that right. Watch the actions of your Council. Contact your MP and MPP with your ideas. Check out the various political parties to see where they really stand on protecting your rights on this issue. Actively support the party which you believe comes closest to supporting your view on this subject. Otherwise – well, you can see where this is going.

At the end of the day, it comes down to you, the individual. If you are quiet and withdrawn, you will lose out and your interests will not be served. If you stand for yourselves, you will win on the points which concern you. The future is yours if you want it.

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