There has been a very consistent theme presented to Council over the past several weeks of budget presentations – each department wants more money. While this was definitely to be expected, I will not be supporting any budget that results in a tax increase.
Let me explain why.
First of all, I campaigned on a tax freeze. Like my other campaign platform ideas, I fully intend to keep my promise to the voters who elected me.
Secondly, I refuse to accept the notion that taxes should go up simply because “they always go up”. Yes, inflation is one of the natural occurrences we experience financially; however, not every commodity (taxes being included) is obligated to increase each year. I have listened to the budget presentations, very closely for that matter, and I believe we can cut enough out of the budget to result in a zero percent tax increase while maintaining our level of service.
Furthermore, I strongly believe there is an underlying systematic problem inside our City in terms of our level of taxation. What I mean specifically is that the constant increase in taxation appears to be more of a “cultural routine” than a fiscal necessity. Ideally, I would love to see a system of budget presentations where each department presents a zero percent tax increase for their own respective budgets. It is my belief that our departments have become rather accustomed to having increased budgets approved for so long that they have no desire to “trim the fat” when possible.
No disrespect to the City departments, I am actually extremely impressed how well they are operated, however my job is to allocate limited City resources the best way possible across all departments. Their job, on the other hand, is to operate their departments and more money often translates into better operations.
Our citizens feel taxed. In fact, they feel overtaxed. And I truly sympathize with this notion. Data and statistics clearly show that Cornwall faces some of the highest taxation in the province. Sadly, it only appears to be getting worse each year. I am sincerely fearful of our City’s future if the level of taxation continues on this path for much longer.
During the election campaign, there was no shortage of discussions surrounding promoting Cornwall and bringing more people to our City. After all, more people means more tax revenue in general and a stronger economic impact for everyone. I cannot think of a better way to attract more people to our community then by having a zero percent tax increase. Specifically, Cornwall is often looked at by retirees, individuals who are conscious about the financial health of their future. It goes without saying that a freeze in taxes is most certainly an attractive feature to this type of demographic.
Having said all this, I unfortunately expect the majority of Council to pass a budget with a certain level of tax increase. And so be it I guess – I have nothing but respect for my colleagues and wholeheartedly believe in the power of democracy. But for as long as I sit at the Council table, I will continue to advocate for lower taxes.
City of Cornwall