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Mayor’s Report – May 6, 2015

Meet the Mayor

May 6, 2015

 

Taxation as a concept is as old as time – well, almost as old. Egypt built its pyramids; Babylon its massive walls; Rome its roads, aqueducts, and theatres; and Britain its world Empire all with the taxes of the people who probably didn’t ask to be taxed.

What does a 2% property tax increase look like?

You might change the question slightly: What does no tax increase look like?

What does no tax increase for seven or eight years in succession look like?

You may not remember but for seven or eight years in succession during the past decade Council imposed no tax increase. The reality of that annual decision was that real revenues decreased each year by the rate of inflation. This Council does not believe that is responsible management of your assets.

I think we have to unwrap these questions a little more to get to the bottom of the taxation dilemma – to tax or not to tax, that is the question that Council recently answered in the affirmative.

Somehow we have to pay for the infrastructure that makes our community a pleasant place to live and do business. We have stated two criteria here: we expect a pleasant living space and we need a business-friendly environment. Both are important to the viability and vitality of our community. Council’s job is to balance the budget, keep the infrastructure intact, and build needed new features while minimizing as far as possible the burden on the tax payer. Council has endeavoured to keep these principles foremost as we discuss the annual tax needs of the community.

A couple of examples of additions to community inventory that are not going to increase the tax burden: The new medical clinic was built as a revenue generator; with the level of public support it has received it will actually have a positive impact on the bottom line. Your new District Office, promised 25 years ago and finally almost ready to occupy has been built using planned reserves. True, Council could have used those reserves in other ways but this is the choice we made and we believe it was the right one for our times.

Additional infrastructure upgrades that will impose no added tax burden to the residents include the plan for rebuilding and paving of streets in the amount of $600,000 annually, additions to curbs and sidewalks, community beautification, and others.

However, there is one upgrade that will impose a tax burden on the community. Sewer installations built perhaps 30 years ago must be brought up to the standards of the times. Council has applied for a $3 million grant to lift the District’s $1.5 million to the needed $4.5 million to complete the project.

I’d like to return to the opening question: How will I recognize the 2% tax increase Council approved on April 27? Depending on the value of your property, you residential tax increase will be in the $16 to $30 range per year.

 

Merlin Nichols, Mayor