COMMENTARY: You can’t compare neighbours on taxes

The Cornwall Community Action Group is trying to get candidates for mayor and council to sign off on a pledge to “roll back” taxes in the city during the next term. The CAG says the taxes are too high compared to our neighbours. Cornwall’s average tax bill is 28 per cent more than South Glengarry and 35 per cent more than South Stormont, says the CAG.

The group says the situation is “not equitable,” and they’re right. Cornwall, South Glengarry and South Stormont are not equals. One of the biggest costs for the municipality is emergency services. Cornwall has a paid fire department (remember, nearly 50 per cent of your taxes go to police, fire and EMS) while the two townships have volunteer firefighters. Cornwall is serviced by water in most areas. South Glengarry is starting to get more water service from Cornwall. And don’t even get me started on the agreement where Cornwall pays 85 per cent for the Cornwall Regional Airport, which is in South Glengarry (the township pays 15%). So there are some inequalities, yes. Maybe the CAG should address those.

The Community Action Group also points to Windsor with its “five straight years of no tax increase based on public record.” Impressive. But who’s paying the taxes? The CAG won’t tell you the Canadian Federation of Independent Business pegged Windsor as one of the top five worst cities in Canada for a gap between residential and business taxes. The amount of taxes Windsor businesses pay has been steadily going up for four years, according to CFIB. So, of course, Windsor homeowners can be relieved because the businesses are shouldering more of the tax burden. If the Cornwall CAG wants “new growth in our community,” are they going to boost that growth on the backs of business?

The CAG has some flawed logic, all in the name of trying to “roll back” taxes. I think those on the CAG, some of them business owners, would be singing a different tune if they started picking up a bigger share of the tax pie.

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