We hope some of you have been following the discussion on the Wolfville ratepayers list serve [Wolfville@live.ca] It’s almost as much fun as reading Frank, which is more fun than a barrel of monkeys. The discussion is certainly heating up as the municipal election approaches. The main issue of this interest group – the 700 club- is that a new council is needed since the over spending, and zoning meddling of this one can not be controlled without continual alertness and then massive outcry of residents- which of course should not be necessary as the whole point of electing a Council is to do that vigilent work for us. Instead of guarding the sheepfold they have become themselves the ravening wolves.
It is certainly refreshing to hear the clash of ideas in the back and forth of e-mails of this group. You don’t get this sort of talk at town meetings which are over controlled. Democracy is messy and should be. How can you come to consensus if only one side is heard?
One thing however, is quite disturbing about some of the “debate” on the list serve. It is very clear that some residents -including shockingly the deputy mayor and the mayor himself – do not understand the system whereby residents are taxed. The term assessment neutral is also being bandied about, but that concept too is poorly understood. It is perhaps time that civics was restored to the curriculum – as some have suggested- and the tax system municipally should be one of the subjects covered. Without this basic knowledge ratepayers blithely go along with a spendthrift town administration which, of course, finds it easier to get along – with no incentive to be frugal- if its coffers are full of taxpayers money.
It is perhaps difficult to understand that the Town administration is responsible for the tax rate, and therefore the amount each one of us pays, not the Assessment Office. Unless the Town budget increases, raised (or decreased) assessments should not affect the amount collected at all. The Town is NOT entitled or expected to keep the mil rate the same and take any windfall accrued by assessment increases nor would they be expected to keep the mil rate the same and cut their budget drastically if assessments were to drop severely. What they are supposed to do is set their budget-frugally- and then adjust the rate up or down accordingly to extract the money needed to run the Town in a fiscally responsible way. Assessment caps in no way stem the revenue stream as our deputy mayor stated in the paper. That he said this indicates that he does not understand how the system is meant to work.
As we have pointed out any number of times here, and what resident Larry Lynch has pointed out several times in letters to the paper and now to the list serve, Wolfville thinks it IS entitled to take the windfall and is putting the money from years of over taxation into “reserves” to be sopped up by any so called “need” that comes along. This is a very poor attitude to town administration and as a number of people have pointed out on the list serve this does not make our town in any way competitive with nearby communities. If other municipalities also do this- and we have no doubt they do- then no wonder Nova Scotia as a whole is in the state it is.
Our next post will discuss “revenue neutral assessment”, another concept which perhaps needs some explaining.