The first hour of Monday’s meeting really was focused on ‘Question Period’ where citizens are allowed to come up to the podium and ask any questions that are on their minds. This is one of my favourite parts of the meetings…especially the budget meetings…because it is interesting to hear what residents have to say…and what is on their minds. This is especially interesting during budget deliberations because residents don’t shy away from sharing their frustrations with our ever-increasing property taxes and I find each person’s perspective to be insightful and refreshing.
Monday’s meeting started with Mirela Anthony, a ‘new-ish’ to Orangeville resident. Her and her family moved to Orangeville from Brampton about 2 years ago and she is concerned that perhaps they made the wrong decision as she continues to see significant increases in her taxes. She quite simply asked, “What am I getting for my money?” stating that her taxes in Brampton were significantly less and she was able to enjoy a larger variety of amenities for her dollars.
Councillor Wilson spoke up to explain exactly what services are paid for with tax dollars from the Orangeville portion as well as from the Dufferin County portion “You probably have access to a lot of services that you don’t even need, but the town has to pay for them anyway. The highest ticket items are usually provided by the County because they are services that are dictated by the province. The County’s budget is about 50% supported by the Town of Orangeville.” He went on to list a few of them. ‘ A County Museum, 2 libraries in Orangeville, the County provides subsidized daycare, roads and bridges, planning services, public health, snow plowing, police, ambulance services, social housing, the county owns buildings that need upkeep, the Town owns buildings needing the same, the Town has sports fields and 2 arenas, the Town is required support the property assessment services through MPAC, the conservation authorities, fire services & welfare, and all of these services have payroll that needs to be paid’, just to name a few. Ms. Anthony also took note of Councillor Wilson having said taxpayers have been given a break for far too long. He explained what he meant by that statement indicating that our infrastructure is in dire need of repair, and “Had we been maintaining our infrastructure over the years, and spending $1 doing the maintenance, we could have avoided the $5 it takes to replace the infrastructure that we have badly neglected over the years.”
Deputy Mayor Maycock gave great insight into why Brampton’s property taxes are less than Orangeville’s stating that 80% Orangeville’s budget comes from residential tax payers and only 20% from commercial taxes while Brampton’s split is more like 55/45 due to a significantly higher number of commercial industry – this alone causes for a lot of the tax burden to be lifted from residential tax payers. “This is why it should be Council’s goal to try to increase the number of industries and commercial companies that the Town has.”
Next up to the podium was Mr. Mark Potter who was upset by misleading comments “I am concerned with some of the messages being relayed by certain members of Council.” Mr. Potter was referring to a quote from a previous article in the Orangeville Banner from December at which time the proposed increase was 4.3%. In this article, the Mayor was quoted as saying “It is essentially a zero budget. If you take the budget and account for the Town’s growth and inflation, Boom, We’re there.” “Statements like this are very misleading to the residents of Orangeville. The treasurer has just confirmed that the proposed budget is increasing. The fact that the proposed increase is in the neighbourhood of inflation, does not make it a zero budget. I can presume that statements of this nature are related to campaign promises that have not come to fruition.” said Mr. Potter.
So, what do you think? Would you come to Council and share your thoughts? What do you think of these residents’ concerns? I personally want to thank each and every resident who takes the time and steps out of their comfort zone to address Council at Question Period.
Here is my humble opinion…there is ALOT of chatter on Facebook about taxes…which is awesome…I’m so happy that residents are concerned instead of being apathetic. And don’t get me wrong when I say this…Social Media is a wonderful way to start dialogue…but it can’t end there. Simply sitting being a computer screen and complaining about your taxes is not going to get results. We all need to get out there…be present…So here is what I am proposing…The next meeting of the Finance Committee to have budget talks is scheduled for Monday, March 7th at 5pm. COME TO COUNCIL & SPEAK UP AT QUESTION PERIOD!!!!!! Being able to share your concerns IN PERSON is how you will be heard! FILL COUNCIL CHAMBERS ON MARCH 7th!!!
Fun with Flags
For all my Big Bang Theory lovers, I had to use that heading :) The discussion of the replacement of the flagpole at the entrance to Orangeville in Dragonfly Park was back on the agenda. In the end, after much fun talking about flags, $42,000 was added to the budget for full replacement of the flag pole. **Sidenote: Since this meeting, local business owner, Paul Korsten, has suggested having residents work together to fundraise to the flagpole. He is now spear-heading a fundraising campaign to make this happen! To make a donation, head over to Korstens Jewellers on Broadway (and pick up a beautiful, sparkly Valentine’s treat for your loved one while you’re there! :)
After some talks about the roads that are in need of repair, a number of suggestion came up. Including one from Mayor Williams that shocked me, “I wonder if perhaps we could tap into some long term financing? Finance rates right now are crazy low and perhaps that is an option we could explore. It’s another way of using a reserve…we use debt as a reserve tool as well, we do that right now.” Confirmation from the treasurer showed that on 1 million dollar loan, it would be at a rate of approx 2.38% which would equate to a repayment of about $220,000 per year on a 10 year term.
So, let me get this part straight…you don’t want to add more money to reserves but you want to borrow money? I’m confused. Relating this to personal finances, sounds to me an awful lot like how people get themselves into credit card debt…not having money to save and yet continuing to borrow and spend??? In my humble opinion, this is just ridiculous!! Thankfully, that suggestion didn’t get too far.
Normally my posts are more about the meat of the meeting, but quite honestly, Question Period was the meat of this particular meeting. Other than question period, ‘Fun with Flags’ and a few other items, reserves and infrastructure talks were the talk of the meeting with really no progress….same ol’, same ol’.
In the end, the most recent tax increase number was just shy of 3%…but there is still quite a ways to go!
Exciting News from In My Humble Opinions
I have exciting news to share! In My Humble Opinions will be coming to you on RogersTV (Channel 63)!!! We start taping in a couple of weeks and I’ll be bringing guests on the show to talk about Orangeville Municipal Politics and other community info! I would welcome any suggestions for guests and topics that you would want to hear about! More info to come as plans unfold!! Make sure to tune in!!