When will they ever learn?

If the mayors don’t know how it works what chance have we got? Here it is again in print in today’s CH, supposedly informing our residents how things work.

The growth in the value of Lunenburg County homes has slowed, according to numbers released this week, and the mayor says that’s reason for concern.

“It’s a huge issue,” said Don Downe, the mayor for the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg. “It’s all about revenue. It’s all about cash flow.”

That’s because assessments determine how much money people pay to municipalities in taxes.

NO! NO! NO!! Come on folks [and journalists!!!!!!] ,please, think about this. It is important. We will repeat it again. Assessments do not determine the cash flow to a Town or County’s budget. It is the RATE that determines what the “cash flow is”. If assessments go down the rate goes up to cover what the Council decides should be spent.. NO problem. The Council is in control and accountable. They are not at the mercy of anyone but the voters.

The assessment only determines WHO pays what part of it. You don’t need a PHD degree to understand this although we know many over-educated people who can’t grasp this,  perhaps because they listen to our mayors and councillors, and read our newspapers,  and believe them.

The real issue is that Councils will not be able to HIDE their spending if rates go up . THAT is what they fear. And we say, GOOD,  perhaps it is time they had to account for their spending.

The Property Valuation Services Corp isn’t helping IF they perpetuate the myth that lower assessments and assessment caps  mean lower cash flow in their presentations. This only encourages Town or other political interference in assessment work. But all they are doing is stating facts.

Property Valuation Services Corp., which assesses properties across the province, made a presentation to municipal council Thursday morning.

“Definitely, the number of sales has gone down and we’re watching that very closely,” said Debi Karrel, who works with the company.

The market has slowed, she said, and it is taking properties longer to sell. …

So? The PVSC knows very well how it works but they perhaps aren’t trying hard enough to get through to the likes of mayor Don Downe who thinks also that caps affect the municipality’s budget.

Mr. Downe said the lower revenue resulting from capped assessments has a big impact on the municipality’s budget.

“That’s a huge differential.”

No, and again no.

It isn’t very encouraging to know that idiots are running our municipalities. Just get your budget in order, determine what you need, set the rate and defend it honestly. Is that so difficult to understand?

PS – CH journalists [specifically in this case – but not the only case – Beverly Ware] you should be ashamed of yourselves.

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8 responses to “When will they ever learn?

  1. via Facebook

    Bob Ashley commented on your note “When will they ever learn?”:

    “Good post. To be fair, the lion’s share of municipal councilors are just regular people from your neighborhood. Amateurs. Professional administrations, OTOH, should bear responsibility for trying to educate elected officials. “

  2. Don Downe was a minister in the Savage (Liberal ) government.
    He was a poultry farm owner and was president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture. He served in the province’s Executive Council as Minister of Natural Resource, Minister of Business and Consumer Services and Minister of Transportation and Public Works.
    Minister of Finance from April, 1998 to 2003.

    Just regular people. An amateur.

    • Via Facebook:
      Bob Ashley commented on your note “When will they ever learn?”:

      “True, but a truly stark anomaly. Your post closes with a generalization about “idiots…running municipalities”. The lion’s share are just regular folk doing community service. This doesn’t take away from your main point on widespread misapprehension how the property tax works. “

      • We chose the lesser of two evils in questioning Mr. Downe’s (and others’) ability to understand basic concepts. Anything else would have impugned Mr. Downe’s (and others’) honesty which we are reluctant to do. But there are only two alternatives aren’t there? Either he (and others) don’t know how the property tax system works (and if we can understand it anyone can) OR he (and others) are being deceptive, softening up the public for tax rate hikes coming but putting the blame on assessments rather than defending budget expenditures. This is not what we would call open government.
        We generalise because what we point out about Mr. Downe’s comments in the press are repeated all over the province. The misapprehension in the public mind has been encouraged by Town administrations themselves and enabled by a compliant, unquestioning media. When property values were rising they reaped the windfalls claiming they were “holding the rate” and blaming tax increases on assessments, now in a falling market they are reaping the whirlwind, claiming a squeeze on “revenue”, again blaming assessments.

        If it is the CAO’s job to “educate” mayors and councils about how the system works they haven’t done a very good job over the years. (Do they really want to?) But we don’t blame staff. Mayors and councils are in charge. Being an “amateur” does not prevent one from asking questions, using one’s head and holding staff accountable.

        We’d like to thank you Bob, for engaging in this back and forth. It is appreciated.

      • Via Facebook
        Bob Ashley commented on your note “When will they ever learn?”:

        “I agree. I suspect reasons are deeply embedded in the history of the property tax as the most reviled of tax regimes, and a culture of discourse trying to make the best of an inherently weak system. “

  3. I spilled my coffee when I read that CH article.

    Is Beverly Ware overwhelmingly ignorant or hopelessly servile? How could she miss the opportunity to ruthlessly lampoon the pure nonsense peddled by that lame-brained Mayor?

    Speaking of nonsense, remember that TOW notice for the 17 Nov 2009 meeting: “Wolfville School Now at Risk!” On that notice, TOW had the unmitigated gall to threaten that declining property values would lead to increased taxes!

    Municipalities behave like playground bullies. The property owner loses on the swings and then gets pummeled on the roundabouts.

    • You are right. Either our elected reps don’t know any better or PRETEND they don’t. Either way we lose. Not sure which category Mr. Downe falls into but think maybe we might do better in Lunenburg Co. and Wolfville with just “regular folk doing community service.” The attitude would be better.

  4. The “amateur” defense is not credible when we are charged professional rates.

    I’d have no trouble accepting a bumbling and foolish Mayor if (s)he only charged our household one or two grand each year. For 5 grand, I expect better than a kick in the bum from an ignorant ass.