We got a page in the mailbox with a 2009/10 proposed budget overview. We know this is an well meant attempt by some on Council to engage residents in the budget process and fill them in on some of the issues. There is hope, we think, that there will be a good turnout for the meeting on May 26th and that Wolfvillians will come to the meeting ready to give some guidance to Council.
We don’t wish to completely squelch these efforts to communicate but we are afraid, being as critical as we are, we cannot let it go without pointing out a few things.
First regarding the Commercial tax rate – up a full 12 cents to 3.53. There is an asterisk next to that with a note which says “Commercial increase is due to the phase out of the business occupancy tax.” Does that sound reasonable? In one part of the overview the town calls the unequal split between commercial and residential revenue streams a “budget challenge“, so one would think they would want to attract businesses. You don’t do that by raising taxes. The purpose of phasing out the BoT was to give a break to small business and reduce the paper burden. Yet the town replaces any saving businesses might have received with an increase in the commercial rate. Does this Council want to have any business left in Wolfville, or is it determined to drive away what little remains?
Then there is this amazing statement. We are stunned to see that after all this time and explanation someone there didn’t catch this. “A residential tax rate of 1.39 represents an average tax bill increase of $60.75 per dwelling unit due to increasing assessments.” NO, NO, NO. How many times does it have to be said. Tax increases are NOT caused by rising assessments. They are due to decisions of Councils and the budgetary needs of the municipalities. Good grief. Take responsibility will you and STOP blaming this on others. If you need more money say so and be willing to defend your spending.