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LETTER: Increase income instead of cutting services

Slashing services to justify lower tax hikes 'is looking at the budget from the wrong side of the fence,' says letter writer
The Simcoe County administration building is shown in this file photo.

OrilliaMatters welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected] or via our website. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to an article about a potential tax hike from the County of Simcoe, published Sept. 14.

The municipal budget season has arrived with several councillors making the opening speeches at the draft budget stage.

These speakers often state: “The taxes are high. People cannot afford a large increase. We may have to cut services.” I suggest this is looking at the budget from the wrong side of the fence.

It would be preferable to start with reviewing what services the municipality is responsible for and how these services can be delivered efficiently. Then, at the end of this review, estimate the cost of these services, convert the cost to a tax rate and, at that stage, compare the new rate to previous taxes. (This is sometimes called zero-budgeting.)

The use of the above approach requires a mind shift at the public as well as at the council level. This is not achieved easily but should be achievable as people are basically interested in services and not in taxes. The majority of people in this area can afford and are prepared to pay for the services they want. They will complain about tax increases for show as it is the fashion to do so these days. There is a small percentage of people who truly cannot afford to pay more municipal taxes. The solution to this is to increase their income. Lowering services to all residents is the wrong approach.

Konrad Brenner