Sir: Annual tax hikes are unnecessary in Chatham-Kent. We have a workable mix of population to retail commercial and a more than manageable municipal corporation, if managed prudently.
Rather than excessive spending and evaporating resources to attract outside business, we need to restructure our local governance and day-to-day management, similar or identical to Brampton’s recent restructuring initiative.
Outside private investment is automatically attracted to a well-managed municipal corporation, especially with responsibly obtained zero tax hikes.
Budget chair Coun. Derek Robertson said low resident turnout at the budget meetings was due to no service cuts. Partially correct! Hundreds of residents I’ve talked to the last few years are unanimous, in that, “C-K does what they want anyway so why attend,” “Public meetings need to be after supper,” “Limited access to information and difficult understanding what is presented anyway.”
Coun. Doug Sulman recently announced that property tax hikes are too steep and should be below 1.5% rather than the 1.9%. Partially correct as well! Our municipality can easily obtain an annual 0% tax hike with a target for an annual surplus amount, which, by itself is enough to spur an economy through increasing disposable income and attracting investment.
Doing so would result in surplus amounts, as C-K initiates tax hikes each year they could apply for tax reductions.
The municipality keeps trying to sell its house without the required fixing and upgrades. A nice house with little or no needed repairs attracts buyers.
This year’s 1.9% tax hike represents about $2.5M. That amount and more could be easily saved each year. We start with responsible, transparent accountability and prudent municipal management; having open, complete, easy to access and understand base and draft budget information presented to council and the residents in ample time before each budget, NOT dumped on everyone at the zero hour, that only gives overviews, without detail and in a fashion that only a Philadelphia accountant would understand.
This annual behaviour only disengages and alienates the public. By keeping pertinent information away from the public, it reduces public critique and undermines public ability to provide informed input and to be aware of what the hell’s going on with their money.
Although our collective council should be the overseers, the watchdogs for wise investment, such isn’t happening. C-K retains Deloitte and Touche auditors, who only compile financial reports based on what’s given them by the municipality, leaving our municipal corporation to control what’s given the auditors.
My recent provincial presentation enforced the need for a municipal auditor general. An auditor general conducts performance reviews, stops inappropriate and ineffective spending before same becomes a taxpayer liability which has been the case with the Bradley Centre (annual losses); Kingston Park (cost overrun); the 401 business park (more annual losses); Capitol Theatre (annual losses); Riverview Gardens (annual losses); transferring cash from reserves to the CSX rail line; huge interests payments; unnecessary millions spent in administration time and resources and consultants; failure to restructure our administrative functions and initiating attrition programs that would reduce our annual municipal wage, pension, travel and training costs, including our recent additional employee salary review hike for grades 10 and up, in additional to their annual salary hike; etc.; etc.