Sunday, November 21, 2010
Taxes - Where Do You Stand
Midland Town Council is currently embroiled in a budget debate. The two positions at the table are:
1) keep going as we have over the past few years with Town tax increases of 3.5% or more or;
2) get taxes under control by keeping increases over the next four years to no more than the rate of inflation, roughly 1.5%
I am on the side of keeping our tax increases under the rate of inflation and here are some of the reasons why.
1) We have just finished an election. People elected a mayor whose platform included keeping tax increases “below the rate of inflation”. The people have voted.
2) Midland has the highest tax rate in Simcoe County at 1.56%. A high tax rate keeps people and industry from moving to Midland. Let me explain. If I am thinking of buying a $250,000 home somewhere in Simcoe County I will pay $600 more a year in taxes in Midland than I will in Collingwood or $1,800 a year more than in Tiny. High taxes make it harder to attract jobs and new residents.
3) Midland has many citizens who depend upon social supports - seniors, the unemployed, ODSP recipients - to name a few. Social support payments are indexed to the rate of inflation. Here is a recent example: “All OW clients will benefit from the increase as of December 1/2010. To say it is a modest increase is an understatement, it amounts to approx. 1.2% or $7.00/month for a single person.” If our vulnerable citizens are seeing their incomes going up at the rate of inflation, how do we justify to them that their taxes are going up a lot faster?
Midland citizens are rightly proud of the many services they receive from the Town. So when anyone says “getting taxes under control” the immediate reaction is that services will be cut and jobs will be lost. What I would say to those individuals is that getting our costs under control is essential for Midland’s well being. No organization can grow without regard for its “customers” ability to pay. Secondly my background in working with organizations to improve efficiencies has shown that service cutbacks are a last resort. During the election campaign Town staff and residents alike came forward with ideas to save money without cutting services.
I am confident that we can get our taxes under control. All it needs is political will and working together with the citizens of Midland.
Your Councillors are on both sides of this debate. So what would you tell them? Keep our tax increases and service delivery as they are or control our taxes and look for more cost-efficient ways to deliver our services. I would like to hear from you.