Tonight the T0W Finance Committee [euphemistically called the Fiscal Sustainability Task Force] will meet . Here’s the guts of the agenda.
… 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm …
4. RULES OF ENGAGEMENT [1/2 HOUR]
5. COMMUNICATION [1/2 HOUR]
6. REVIEW OF TERMS OF REFERENCE [1/2 HOUR]
7. ORIENTATION AND REVIEW OF TOWN’S FINANCIAL
DOCUMENTS [1 HOUR – DIRECTOR PORTER]
8. ESTABLISH PRIORITY WORK PLAN [1 HOUR]
4 hours. Deadly. Don’t you love the “Rules of Engagement” line? And in our experience “Orientation and Review” translates as “Here’s what you should think.”
Tomorrow, to tire our task force members further, we are told there will be a presentation to the Task Force by the Assessment Office [ oops the Property Valuation Services Corporation] to explain how assessments work. Certainly some Councillors and townsfolk need an explanation of this. Assessment is only a vehicle for deciding how the burden of the budget is shared among residents. It might be better if a $ figure (and a zero or two) was taken off of it so this confusion could be avoided.
And perhaps the PVSC will explain that assessment “growth” is not an increase in the ability to pay.
Assessment figures should be kept as far away from political (municipal administration) influence as possible. The PVSC might like to explain to the task force members and town staff how this will be possible in their new incarnation when the municipal units are both their clients [the town, ie the Wolfville taxpayers pay them for their work] and their overseers [municipal reps are on their board].
It also needs to be explained that assessment “wealth”, although commonly called this, is not “wealth” in the ordinary sense of the term.
And to reinforce this last point perhaps all the task force members should view this video, from December 2008, to remind them that property “valuations” are only that; estimates, guesses, not real money- rather like stock values [and look what happened to them!] They mean nothing until cashed in. If you can sell. They should NEVER therefore, even in good times, be a basis or justification for a budget.
Canada will not be immune. Had the town been frugal in good times, we would be better able to weather hard times. We hope if nothing else the Task Force recognises that belt tightening RIGHT NOW, is in order.
RELATED: In the light of a likely over supply soon in the housing market we admire the courage (or naivete) of the group which we see proposing
a residential subdivision development on the lands at 85-95 Maple Avenue (PID 55354609) pursuant to the Residential Comprehensive Development District policies of the Municipal Planning Strategy.
A public hearing on this proposal will be heard on February 16, 2009 at 7:30pm, in the Council Chambers of Town Hall.