Ladies and Gentlemen
Happy Valentines Day. Its cold outside but I know there are a lot of warm hearts in Midland.
This past week I received a note from a man, living in Barrie, who wanted to move his family to Midland. He had visited and loved the Town but decided not to move - because of the high taxes.
His note serves as a reminder that in 2015 Midland had the second highest property tax rate in Simcoe County. I am the first to point out (and I did) that property taxes are not the whole story. Our taxes are somewhat offset by the low costs of sewer and water services, plus housing costs in Midland are quite low compared to other parts of the County. The fact remains though that we are a high tax jurisdiction.
Over the past three years the Town has made some progress in reducing taxes. As recently as 2014 Midland had the highest tax rate in the County. Over the past three years, Midland has turned in the lowest tax rate growth of any municipality in Simcoe County. A good start - more must be done.
Next month the Town will turn its fiscal attention to policing by starting the process for costing the OPP service. Policing costs must be examined for the simple fact that they are such a significant part of our annual budget. If you look at the yellow “2015 Town of Midland Taxes” sheet you received last year, you will see that policing took 27.5% of the municipal budget, the largest budget share for any department. Of equal concern to Council is the proportional growth of the police budget. As recently as five years ago the police budget represented only 16-18% of our budget.
While the question may have been raised by a financial concern, the answer critically involves the quality of policing that we receive. We do enjoy high quality policing from the Midland Police Service. And as stated by our Police Chief, the OPP is also a quality police service. So Council will have to address that issue once the costing situation has been clarified.
At this point we do not know what the costing exercise will show. At a minimum Council will have a better understanding of our own policing costs and insights as to where we can be more cost effective. If there is a substantial cost difference, Council will have to very seriously consider looking at OPP as our policing option.
Monday February 15th is Family Day. Town Hall is closed. Whether you have the day off or not take time to enjoy your loved ones.
Tuesday the 16th starts with a meeting at Midland Secondary School. Plans are underway for the new school that will receive the students from PSS in Penetanguishene. I will be meeting with the Principle, the School Board and a leading manufacturer from our community to make sure that the school design accommodates the educational needs of students who want to enter the trades. At 4:00 pm at Town Hall you are invited to attend what should be the last budget meeting, prior to Council voting on the 2016 Town budget.
On Wednesday at 3:30 pm you are invited to an entrepreneurial showcase at Georgian College, Midland Campus. The meeting will share information on College activities and strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem within Midland. Please RSVP if you wish to attend. That evening I meet with Julianna Matyas of We are the Villagers to plan a “Mac and Cheese” extravaganza. The mayors, Bruce Stanton and Patrick Brown will be there to serve the people. Please put dinner on April 5th on your calendar – an event not to be missed.
On Thursday the 16th I will spend much of the day with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in Toronto as I look for provincial support for our Downtown Master Plan project. Back in Midland you may want to attend the Midland Bay Landing Open House at 4:00 pm at Town Hall. And that evening at 7:00 pm at MCC, pure enjoyment as the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra presents Bach.
Friday the 19th is a busy day for all. At 9:00 am at the Penetanguishene Memorial Community Centre is a special presentation for businesses on the topic of “Canada Revenue and You”.
Registration is required. Contact Lois Irvine at North Simcoe CFDC, 705.526.1371 ext. 113 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Dinner is served from 5:00 till 7:00 pm at the Midland Legion by the Ladies Auxiliary of Branch 80 Midland Legion. These spaghetti dinners are always a wonderful event. Tickets are $10.00 with children under 10 for $5.00.
At 8:00 pm at the MCC, Huronia Players launches 2016 with the well-loved comedy, The Perils of Persephone.
- 6:00 pm Ducks Unlimited hosts its annual dinner at the Best Western
- 7:30 pm Serenata Choir presents a cabaret and silent auction at Ste. Marie restaurant. Tickets at Johnstones Musicland or from Serenata members
Council Issues Update
The 2016 process moves into the final phase with a budget meeting this Tuesday at 4:00 pm. You are welcome to attend.
Midland Bay Landing
Another step towards getting the site ready for development occurs at the Town Hall this Thursday with the Public Open House respecting the zoning changes. This is not a design meeting to discuss what it will look like, but rather a consideration of the zoning requirements for the site and how it will support the MBL Master Plan.
With the informational meetings on the report over, the mayors are now working closely with GBGH and its Board to ensure we have a service mix that is acceptable to the community and that the LHIN and the province provide the financial supports to keep our hospital viable.