Fiscal diagnosis

The short presentation recently given to Council by Councillor Irving and the longer final report of the Fiscal Sustainability Task Force are both now online at the Town Website for examination – in PDF as is practically everything that they have available online.

Here is just a tiny sample from the presentation to whet your appetite:

Current Town Operating Budget is 7.3 million.
 Town Operating Expenses grew by 18% from 2004- 2008 and was 2nd highest of the benchmark towns (Berwick 18.4%). The inflation rate in Canada during this period was 9%. …

Residential Taxes have increased at a compound rate of 6.25% per year from 2000-2009.
Wolfville has the 3rd highest tax burden in the Province.
There is a growing understanding that there are many lower income residents in Wolfville and these citizens could be greatly effected by significant increases to taxes.
A review of a randomly selected tax bills revealed that there are some homeowners who have had taxes double in 10 years.

Key findings [from the final report’s exec. summary]

Key Findings:
1. Commercial Assessments Are Declining as a Percentage of Total Assessments: Wolfville has experienced a decline in commercial assessment as a percentage of total assessment, increasing the dependence of the community on the residential tax payer.
2. The Capacity to Increase Residential Taxes may be Exhausted: The residential tax burden in Wolfville is the 3rd highest in Nova Scotia making it unlikely that future revenues can be derived from significant increases in residential taxes.
3. The Capacity of the Town of Wolfville to Deal with Additional Financial Risks in its Budget is Limited: There are a number of operational budget pressures and external risks anticipated on the Town’s operational budget that may limit the Town’s ability to meet demands.
4. There is a Growing Infrastructure Deficit: The infrastructure deficit is growing at a pace that far exceeds the community’s ability to pay for improvements.
5. There is a Rural/Town Legislative Imbalance that puts Towns in Nova Scotia at a Competitive Disadvantage: A higher proportion of the Wolfville Town budget is spent on maintaining and replacing roads, water and sewer than neighbouring rural municipalities because of provincial legislation.
The Task Force concluded that Wolfville is not fiscally sustainable on its current path. Immediate action is required. This report describes the key findings behind this conclusion and provides the Wolfville Town Council with recommendations going forward.

The final report is 87 pages, which includes about 40 pages of appendices.


2 responses to “Fiscal diagnosis

  1. The kicker is on page 26 where we find:
    ” Engage residents to work with Council to determine best combination of funding for the planned work from the following sources of funds:
    o Debt
    o Sewer rates (where work applies)
    o Service reductions
    o Tax rate increase dedicated to reducing the Infrastructure deficit
    o New commercial revenue”

    My response to each:
    o Debt: A road can only devalue to zero. A debt can grow indefinitely. Reject this option.
    o Sewer rates (where work applies): Sounds reasonable providing it is done honestly. Who do you trust?
    o Service reductions: I have no use for so called services, whatever they may be? What the mayor calls “service”, I call an imposition. Privatize these “services” and then we’ll see if anyone really wants them.
    o Tax rate increase dedicated to reducing the Infrastructure deficit: Well, politicians have a long history of re-dedicating “dedicated” funds. Indeed, I’d argue that is WHY we have an infrastructure deficit! We already pay more than enough taxes to look after infrastructure. The problem is that the money is diverted towards Mayoral fantasy-land foolishness and supporting an overstuffed bureaucracy. Redirect existing funds to where they should have been going anyway. Start by removing every second bureaucrat. Eliminate or privatize so called services.
    o New commercial revenue: Heck, this is a real long shot. May as well buy lotto tickets!

    When deadbeat clique on Council/staff try to stuff a $225000 Clock park fantasy down out throats, they are really sucking $145 from the average household. (Of course, some get off more lightly because their homes are undervalued:
    which leaves a few of us poor mugs to cough up quite a lot more so that His Munificence The Mayor and his sycophants can indulge themselves sniffing flowers or whatever.)

  2. Brian for Mayor!