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2014-02-05 at 14:46

Mending fences

By Jodi Lundmark,
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A week after the city's mayor called a report on city spending by the local chamber of commerce irresponsible, the two are now working on mending fences.

After his state of the city address to the business community at the Da Vinci Centre Wednesday, Mayor Keith Hobbs said the disagreement is like any family spat.

"When you have two passionate groups - the city is passionate about the city, the chamber is passionate about the city ... You're going to collide heads once in a while," he said.

While the mayor still takes exception to some of the numbers in the chamber's report, he acknowledged some of the positives the chamber pointed out about the city as well.

"They're a good partner of ours and it's a little blip on the radar as far as I'm concerned, a bump in the road and we're good," said Hobbs.

The Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce released a report called An Analysis and Forecast of the City of Thunder Bay's Municipal Finances on Jan. 17 that states the operating costs for city hall are higher than the average in 20 of 27 categories compared to other Ontario and northern cities.

It also says property taxes are among the highest in Ontario. LU business professor Camillo Lento said if nothing changes, homeowners could see tax increases of around 7.9 per cent over the next four years.

Last Tuesday, the city issued a news release stating the report is distorted and based on incorrect assumptions.

Both the city and chamber have met twice to review numbers and chamber president Charla Robinson said they'll be meeting again next week.

She said the meetings have been productive.

"When you're having that kind of a discussion, sometimes there's some challenging moments but really positive discussions, being able to look at both sides of the issues, understanding their concerns and their side and them working to understand the business community's side," she said.

The mayor annually gives the state of the city address to the chamber and Robinson said it's an opportunity for the business community to hear straight from city hall on what they're planning.

She was pleased to hear the city recognizes the need for long-term growth planning, but said the business community is concerned about the ongoing increases in the city's operating budget.

"We know that infrastructure investments are very important to the long-term success of the community. However, the ongoing increase in operating costs is a concern because it's what we all pay for," Robinson said.

In his address, Hobbs spoke how taxes have decreased over the last four years and the projection for 2014 is also a decrease of 2.96 per cent for both residential and commercial properties.

However, the mayor said the city can't control what the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation does and properties can still be re-assessed at a higher value.

"I think we're on a good path," Hobbs said, noting the city's infrastructure spending has doubled in the past four years.

"We had such an infrastructure gap and yes, people don't want to pay the taxes, but if you want the city to look fine and you want your roads improved, you have to pay for it unfortunately," he said.



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Chaos says:
You now know who wears the pants in this family. Who's your daddy chmaber?

Again no Transparency?!!?? Taxpayer still left in the dark.
2/5/2014 3:25:05 PM
tbay99 says:
"We had such an infrastructure gap and yes, people don't want to pay the taxes, but if you want the city to look fine and you want your roads improved, you have to pay for it unfortunately," he said.

WRONG Mr.Hobbs most taxpayers are FINE with paying for infrastructure costs that what municipal taxes are mainly for!

It is the senseless OVERSPENDING you and your council insist on paying for from our wallets every time someone or some group goes before council and asks for funding.

I also find it funny how Mr.Hobbs had no mention of our water rates jumping over 50% since 2010 and another 6% jump coming...always spinning the story to make him and the clowns on council look good, I guess that's politics.
2/5/2014 3:30:11 PM
S Duncan says:
they never bring up the frivolous spending, the giving away of money, or the support for their cause du jour do they?

no, they just pretend they're spending all our money on roads.

They overspend every chance they get. Hobbs pretended to be conservative and was going to cut spending but he's right in there like a dirty shirt when its time to dole out money.

and don't give us the "he's only one vote" routine Hobbs fans, he's joined at the hip with Commisso and he never once objects to any spending what so ever.

and yes, where is the transparency? why are they hiding the details concerning this report? Hobbs just yelped out that they were wrong and then everything went dark.

2/5/2014 5:08:34 PM
sky high says:
Municipal finances are much different from personal finances. When you decide to keep that 10 bucks in your pocket and stuff it under your mattress, well it is no big deal. It'll be there when your cheque runs out. But you see, with all this amazing spending this council is doing. this is STIMULATING our local economy. This is what you pothole fans don't get...that a dollar spent by our council is a dollar that will produce exponentially--and in the case of the coming Events Centre, it will also promote happeniness and municipal pride. Economics 101, I'm sure you can find it online and do a little learning with all this time you have.
2/5/2014 5:39:59 PM
tbay99 says:
Sky high you are so beyond idiotic with your comments I am starting to believe your just an internet troll looking for a reaction.

And if you are all about spending for the city step up the plate and start DONATING it! I will be waiting to see you on the news with a giant cheque for your heroic council showing your "pride". Put your money where your mouth is for once nobody is stopping you.
2/5/2014 8:21:59 PM
sky high says:
Typical pothole hater, always wanting someone else to pay more than their fare share. Instead, how about you quit whining every time a few more cents are asked from your wallet to give our residents a better quality of life? Saw a clip the other day on how a guy from Seattle took matters into his own hands and actually fixed the potholes himself!!! Can you imagine that happening in Thunder Bay? Noooo, potholes don't get filled by flapping off one's lips. Get active and don't even read my comments if they raise your blood pressure so much
2/5/2014 9:00:19 PM
Eastender says:
Skyhigh you're a one trick pony, and the circus has already left town.
You better teach that pony some new tricks, cuzz we've seen that act too many times, and we are bored!
2/5/2014 11:56:46 PM
educator says:
It's easy to hide behind a keyboard and pretend to be an expert on everything.

Why not step forward and let your name stand in the municipal election?
2/5/2014 5:19:36 PM
RicknB says:
"We had such an infrastructure gap and yes, people don't want to pay the taxes, but if you want the city to look fine and you want your roads improved, you have to pay for it unfortunately," he said.

So now its our fault, and we have to pay.
How about trimming the fat, inside the city before you ask us for more!

2/5/2014 3:31:39 PM
smartguy83 says:
The ones to blame are previously city council members. Everyone was happy when taxes were low and spending was in check. Look where it got the city. Now we are stuck with many costly projects all at once. Previous council cut taxes and didn't invest in infrastructure. But what were admin costs like? I'm sure they still took home the bacon.

I really feel sorry for current council. I don't agree with everything they do but they are in a lose-lose situation.
2/5/2014 4:53:18 PM
tbay99 says:
WRONG. We are and have been for a while one of the HIGHEST taxed cities in Ontario. The issues are not a revenue problem with this council or past councils it is the wasteful SPENDING that is the problem!
2/5/2014 5:51:46 PM
cm punk says:
Hobbs address is easy here
He and council will tax the city to death.
Utilities will rise dramatically too.
But don't worry, our residents have deep pockets
2/5/2014 4:43:26 PM
ring of fire dude says:
Deep pockets ? Maybe way back when there were saw mills and paper mills running , now where are those workers ? Probably working for half of what they made during the haydays and barely hanging on by the skin of their teeth . Council seems to think that everybody has a cushy Gov't job or they work in the heath care sector . Wait till the Provincial Gov't starts slashing those jobs because of the deficit , it won't be a pretty picture in ThunderBay .
2/5/2014 7:30:16 PM
fastball says:
Well, honestly - I think they're playing catch-up here. Back in the 90's and early 2000's there were some administrations that touted that "0 percent tax increases" were the way to showed that they were the taxpayers' friends, and guaranteed some election years debate fodder.
Well, unfortunately - when the income stream is static and the price of everything goes either don't do certain jobs, or you spend 8 dollars to do a ten-dollar job. That went on for years.
Now for the past 5-10 years, we've had to play catch-up on fixing all the stuff that never got fixed when the Wise Men were in charge. "Zero percent tax hikes" sounds good in an election year...but it doesn't fix the roads.
Add to that a water treatment plant that finally HAD to be redone after years of procrastination, and there's your water bill sky-high.
Find out where the chronic money drain is...and deal with that.
2/5/2014 5:42:52 PM
sky high says:
The sad thing is that the loud ones in here, who disagree with everything council does, were hoping that the tension between the chamber and council would get stronger. Chamber's little rant actually gave some of the commenters in here, or at least they felt they did, a bit of credibility. But alas, the two groups realize that a team that supports one another always goes further. We're not going to please everyone all of the time, but if the few hundred individuals in this town who want us to remain in the darks ages continue to howl at every move the city makes well....we're leaving you behind. Enough said
2/5/2014 6:05:52 PM
caesarjbasquitti says:
"In his address, Hobbs spoke how taxes have decreased over the last four years and the projection for 2014 is also a decrease of 2.96 per cent for both residential and commercial properties.

However, the mayor said the city can't control what the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation does and properties can still be re-assessed at a higher value."

The devil told Eve take of the tree of knowledge and you will be like God to know The Truth...and she did, and shared it with Adam.

To this day, humanity deceives itself by taking truths, but not the whole truth!

The tax rate may be lower, however the taxpayer does not pay a tax rate, he or she pays the tax rate times the assessed value, HOWEVER THIS IS OFTEN A BACKWARD PROCESS orchestrated to provide the funds the budget requires.

It is the provincial government system that may set the values for property assessment however it is the city budge that spends the budget, and determines what level of spending it needs.

2/5/2014 6:07:42 PM
sky high says:
I got one question for you before we talk local politics. Which came first, the dinosaurs or Adam and Eve?
2/5/2014 8:03:16 PM
Back-in-the-bay says:
Yes of course a completely fictional story should bare total relevance in real, non fictional situations! You've your own ridiculous book too often, you actually believe your own half truths and semi coherent sentences. Your half baked understanding of economics and business is evident, but mostly with comments like this. Hobbs' point you reference is exactly true and factual. You can shake that cane all you want but it will never make you right. The system is objective and fair and works and has almost nothing to do with Hobbs and council.
2/5/2014 8:24:47 PM
musicferret says:
As long as Hobbs is busy raising my taxes and building an events centre, he doesn't have the money to mend fences. They'll just keep falling apart, along with our roads, and the finances of so many families in this city who are at the breaking point with their skyrocketing municipal taxes.
2/5/2014 10:52:07 PM
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