Sunday November 23, 2014

EDITORIAL - Necessities before luxuries


City taxes are on their way up in 2015, continuing what is become an annual hike.

In late 2013 Council approved a 5.5 per cent increase which is effective this year, and when Council took its first public look at the 2015 budget July 7, it showed a proposed six per cent increase.

There are of course some compelling reasons for increases, in particular the City’s response to the 2010 flood.

The City has made drainage for better flood control a priority and from 2011 through 2015 will invest near $14 million on retention ponds, drainage channels, ditching and culverts, all designed to alleviate the impact of big storm events.

Given that we have just went through another major storm event which has had more than 600 picking up Provincial Disaster Assistance Program (PDAP) forms in the city, investment is infrastructure to help address flooding is a pretty easy sell to taxpayers.

So is adding $200,000 to the 2015 budget for street re-surfacing and pothole repair.

Drive around the city and it’s pretty easy for any taxpayer to understand why those dollars are required.

But at the end of the day the proposed six per cent increase for 2015 is a large one, especially following near the same increase this year.

And that brings us to the question is Council must start to make some difficult choices in terms of what it funds, and when.

As an example, does the City need to spend $260,000 on pathways including Mayhew and Collocatt at a time when taxpayers are being asked to take on a six per cent increase?

Pathways may be a desired thing for our community into the future, but perhaps it is an area which can be pushed well forward as more pressing needs are funded.

Similarly, do taxpayers need to invest another $165,000 at Deer park Golf Course in 2015? The facility was one Council only a few years ago wanted to see cover its own costs. It never has, and perhaps a further investment in the face of a six per cent tax increase is simply ill-timed.

It is time to look to fund what is truly required from a municipality, while some of the more aesthetic add-ons get put on the back-burner as a way to alleviate some of the continued strain of municipal taxes on the pocketbooks of residents. City taxes are on their way up in 2015, continuing what is become an annual hike.



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