To the editor,
The City of Nanaimo e-town hall on the strategic plan was a generally bloodless and boring affair (to be clear, ‘boring’ is not a criticism, after the high drama, chaos and dysfunction of the previous administration).
While I have grave doubts about the vagueness and lack of accountability of this strategic plan, that was not the highlight of discussions during the town hall.
Rather, it was Mayor Krog’s dismissive response to a question about finding cost savings within the city.
Dismissing entirely the idea of major savings to be found in a $200-million-per-year corporation, the mayor instead stated the necessity of increasing revenues, but did not suggest in any way how the city will do this. Of course, that reducing costs and increasing revenues are the two sides of balancing a budget should be no surprise to anyone. And I’m a big fan of increasing public revenues in innovative and progressive ways that minimize the burden on the general taxpayer, such as one-off transfers from higher levels of government (something Nanaimo has historically been poor at), bylaw enforcement revenues (Nanaimo is near the bottom of larger B.C. cities for enforcement revenues versus costs), and punitive taxes on derelict and problem properties.
But a week after property tax notices went out on a tax increase that was more than double rate of inflation (I think many of us understand the necessity of some of that increase), the mayor’s comments could be considered tone-deaf to the extreme. While taxpayers are forced to find efficiencies and/or increase revenues to pay for increased property taxes, the city – according to Mayor Krog – is under no obligation to do either, except through higher property taxes.
As one councillor pointed out at the e-town hall, the 2020 city budget process begins next month. Let’s hope it’s not – again – a simplistic mix of taxes above rate of inflation coupled with no cost savings.
John Dacombe, Nanaimo
To the editor,
Re: Council questioned as property tax notices sent out, May 28.
I am shocked to read that Mayor Krog, with over 20 years’ involvement with government and being a lawyer, does not understand property tax. He wants to blame the increase in taxes on the increased property value, determined by B.C. Assessment, which is not correct. The B.C. Assessment value of your property determines your share of city taxes you are to pay, not how much. The City of Nanaimo determines how much, based on the city’s budget.
It is the city council of Nanaimo that has control over the taxes they receive and how they spend it. Do not blame others for your spending.
Terrence Wagstaff, Nanaimo
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