a version of this report first appeared in Patti Foley’s Just Sayin’
The Town of Caledon held a very well-attended Open House on Tuesday night. Besides our Town CFO, Fuwing Wong, almost the entire talented staff of our Budget Department, including Treasurer Heather Haire, were in attendance. The other members of our Town admin team with whom I spoke were CAO Mike Galloway and Clerk Carey deGorter.
As well, Mayor Thompson was there along with Area Councillors Doug Beffort, Nick DeBoer, Gord McClure and Rob Mezzapelli to assist our engaged citizens in understanding our 2018 budget. Public School Board trustee Stan Cameron was also in attendance, listening attentively to citizen’s questions. Some Regional Councillors also attended.
So, if we wanted to have an intelligent face-to-face chance to talk with the people in the know, we had plentiful opportunity. I had an acquaintance complaining to me about the budget and suggested to him that he attend the open house. He declined, preferring instead to armchair complain using various online conspiracy theories as the basis of his angst. Ah well, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
But for those of us who turned out, we had well- detailed posters to outline the budget and well-informed staff to explain it further if needed. Really, it is quite simple for most of us. It’s like the old joke about your dog when you are talking away to him and all he hears is “Blah, blah, blah, blah, REX, blah, blah, blah, SIT, blah, blah, blah, blah, GOOD DOG.” If you skipped those classes on financial literacy like I did, a deep explanation of budget and finances sounds similar.
Given the general public’s financial literacy quotient, it boils down to this for most of us. How much are our property taxes going to rise in 2018? Three sources impact that number – increases at the Town, the Region and the School Boards – and the bottom line, that Blended Rate, as currently proposed, is an increase of approximately 3.3%
That means on my humble sunny south hill home currently taxed at a rounded off $4000, I will see an increase of $132.00. On the 10 payment installment plan, that’s $13.20 a month. And that means my increase is less than one hour of work per month at the new minimum wage.
What do I get for that exorbitant amount? Gee, let me see: infrastructure repair, infrastructure replacement, eco high tech replacement of obsolete technologies, improved IT communications, talented new staff to deal with emerging issues of an aging population, demands of an increasing population for recreation, wellness and medical facilities, affordable and accessible housing for our youth, our citizens with disabilities, and our seniors, and the cost of creating a fully implemented safe pedestrian and cycling community. Add on top of that the continuing quest to bring viable public transportation to Caledon.
Specifically included in the Town’s budget for public consideration are: accessibility improvements to Town facilities, a strategic partnership with Humberview School for a new Artificial Turf Field/Track, minimum wage increases and design of an expansion to the Bolton senior’s centre. Not bad for less than $15 a month.
On the other hand, as I told my disgruntled budget-phobic acquaintance, you could choose to live in a Syrian refugee camp. They don’t pay any taxes.
Skid Crease, Caledon (accredited member of the Canadian Association of Journalists)
A few additional observations:
During Budget discussion, Councillor Shaunessy objected to setting money aside for use in the future toward a planned rec centre. Such planning would greatly soften the tax impact when the facility comes into operation. This was explained to her at least three times, even with supporting documents, yet she still refused to relent, according to both the Citizen and the Enterprise.
One has to wonder, why be so adamant? Only Councillors Shaunessy and Groves voted against it. Most math students would agree that a vote of 7-2 does not make “a very divided council”.
Some might call this “posturing” for the election next year.
Look for an election plank from each of these two along the line, “We fought to keep taxes down and we were outvoted!”, or some words to that effect.