To raise property taxes or not raise property taxes? That is the question for Dryden city council right now.
Mayor Greg Wilson provided his thoughts.
“In government, we tend to be focused so much on what our financial needs are without really considering the impact on the taxpayer,” Wilson said. “So we come at tax increases from a perspective of how much do we need to meet our requirements at City Hall, for example, rather than asking how much have we been hitting the same taxpayer over and over again?”
The 2017 budget was point of contention for council when they met on Monday.
Some councillors would like to see no property tax increase for the fourth consecutive year, while others are pushing for at least a one per cent increase.
Wilson is concerned that taxpayers are already being hit with tax increases, even if they're not being administered by the city.
“If the city is going to ask for say a 1.5 or 2 per cent increase, well the homeowner will think 'okay, that's all I'm being taxed on,” Wilson explained. “But with the MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Corporation) increase in Dryden, for example, the residential class effectively is going to pay 1.66 per cent more in 2017 compared to 2016 even if the city proposes no property tax increases.”
Those MPAC increases started in 2016 and will continue for the next three years.
The Mayor noted the city needs about $9.6-million every year to look after infrastructure properly. No raise in taxes is going to put the city anywhere close to meeting those costs.
“We're being shorted every year because we're getting off-loaded constantly by senior levels of government and aren't able to meet our obligations,” he said. “So for example, we collect about $13-million a year in property taxes from citizens of Dryden. Most of that doesn't end going towards capital costs, so we have to really on senior levels of government to be able to afford fixing the streets, the roads, what under the roads, and so forth.”
Council will vote on the 2017 budget on Monday.
Councillors Mary Trist and Roger Valley, who are in favour of some form of property tax increase, did not immediately return requests for comment yesterday.
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