A. Nope. On May 12, another taxing by-law was passed just like the others.
Q. Why are we here then?
A. Staff are now suggesting council impose a surcharge on taxpayers in the water-sewer area.
Q. Can they do this?
A. Surcharges are permitted for services which are provided in an identified area at a higher level than elsewhere and at an additional cost to the municipality. Other municipalities have small surcharges for things like sidewalks, street lights, transit. For example, Loyalist has only a 2% surcharge on Amherstview residents for transit.
Q. But didn’t MPAC state clearly at the last meeting that service levels are already recognized by the assessment process which is based on market value?
A. They did. And, council heard that.
Q. But, isn’t a special levy for the same services a form double taxation?
A. Exactly. Council heard that from the public at the MPAC meeting too.
Q. So what services do they propose to study?
A. No one has said. But last year staff proposed a study to support surcharges for things like policing, roads and fire service. Even “livestock kills”.
Q. Livestock kills?
A. That was one item on the list staff prepared for the proposed Service Delivery Review. The old council accepted it and called for tenders. When the new council saw the $45,600 quote from Watson & Assoc they unanimously cancelled it.
Q. If another study is done, can the result be trusted?
A. A fact-based analysis of the costs of those services which are provided only in certain areas might help reach conclusions. But, to be accepted and trusted by the public any study must be done with public input and access to data. And, as staff acknowledge, the extent to which different service levels are already recognized by assessment and user fees should be part of the study.
Q. What does the water-sewer boundary have to do with service levels for police, fire and roads?
A. Nothing. It’s just a convenient place to draw a line on a map. And even that line is messed up on Vanluven Road. Think of the squabbles if we had multiple lines for multiple services. Some services, such as sidewalks and street lighting end at a defined line. But services such as police, fire and roads don’t end or change at any line on a map.
Q. Will anybody trust the result?
A. King Solomon couldn’t answer this one. We predict that any study of service levels for police, fire or roads will be questioned and the divide in the community and on council will plague future generations.
Q. Aren’t there better things to spend $45,600 on?
A. Lots of them. We’ve even have a list. Visit our website and you can add to it. And, you can find links to our sources.
Q. Isn’t it time we stopped dithering and studying and just fix this mess now?
A. We think it’s time to act. There are other options to limit sudden changes, arrive at a tax policy that is fair to all and comply with Ontario law. Suggestions are on our website which could be implemented immediately.
Q. Wouldn’t it be a better use of staff resources to find ways to cut spending rather than studying ways to shift taxes from one group to another?
A. We think tax policy has been a huge distraction for staff from the important job of running our Town efficiently.
Q. What effect does this never-ending squabble about tax policy have on council?