Letter to the Editor:
When I ran for Mayor in 2014, I committed to ensure that the city budgeted and spent responsibly. Every tax dollar is a public trust and to respect that trust and govern responsibly, we have to ensure that we budget properly and do not collect more than required to provide the services our community needs. I have worked hard to meet this goal and I think this Council has accomplished a lot to ensure we are moving in a positive direction.
Here is what we have done:
· A full city spending review;
· Changed the budgeting process so that City Council has more time with the budget and its deliberations;
· Substantially reduced the sewer surcharge;
· Developed and approved a surplus policy;
· Developed and approved a long – term tax policy;
· Developed and approved an Community Improvement Plan (Industrial).
Here are the results:
· We have reduced City spending;
· We have minimized the levy increase year over year;
· We have reduced the majority of the City’s tax rates;
· We decreased the City impact on your PUC bill;
· We are adjusting tax ratios to ensure tax fairness.
Here are the facts:
· In 2015 the City’s total budgeted expenditures were 187 million (including DSSAB, Local and Levy Boards), in 2018 they were 179.5 million (7.5 million decrease);
· In 2015 the municipality’s budgeted expenditures were 115.5 million, in 2018 they were 113.5 million (2 million decrease);
· Tax rate increases directly related to the municipal budget totalled 6.05% over the entire term;
· Tax rate increases for the term, in the aggregate, were below inflation and declined over the term, as follows: 2015 – 2.7%, 2016 – 1.39%, 2017 – 1.04%, 2018 – .92%;
· The residential tax rate decreased almost 9% over the course of the Council term from .01679425 in 2014 to .01530325 (.01360325 without school board levy) in 2018;
· Tax rates for Residential, Multi-Residential, Commercial Occupied, Office Buildings, Shopping Centres all decreased over the Council term;
· The industrial tax rate increased in 2017 due to a major decrease in industrial assessment. It is important to note that a tax capping mechanism is in place to minimize the impact of a significant rate increase so that actual taxes paid are not proportionate to the actual rate increase.
Council has also taken action to support industrial properties. As mentioned, the long-term tax policy will help bring fairness to all tax classes. As well, we’ve introduced a Community Improvement Plan that will provide a tax break to industrial property owners who expand or take actions to increase the assessed value of their properties. I also believe that once Algoma exits CCAA protection, there will be substantial new investments made in the steel plant that will bring its assessment back up and help restore balance to the industrial classes.
This record is consistent with the commitments I made to you in 2014. There is, no doubt, more to do. We have to stay diligent and keep challenging ourselves and City staff to find savings and efficiencies.
I commit to continue to work for you and our community and ask for your support on October 22nd, 2018.