To the editor:
Many taxpayers have informed us they are not in a position to take on any more tax increases regarding the construction of a new soccer complex. Here are some of their concerns:
1. The price to build this facility has already skyrocketed to about $42 million and according to the Community Economic Development Commission the actual cost would likely be closer to $50 million.
2. The city will be using $7 million of federal gas tax money to help finance this project despite the fact that the city is already $22.million a year short on infrastructure spending. This is apparent when the city is unable to maintain our present facilities and services.
3. In order to finance this project the city will also be taking about $10 million from the Renew Thunder Bay Fund, and $1.2 million from the new accommodation tax.
4. A debenture of at least $15 million will also be required despite the fact that Thunder Bay already has a total debt of $212 million and has the second highest residential property taxes in the province of Ontario. City taxpayers are paying $13.5 million a year in interest payments on our debt as well as increased water rates.
5. The city has received no federal or provincial funding for this project and if a contract is awarded to build this facility the project will no longer be eligible for the nearly $22 million in federal infrastructure funding.
6. In order to receive more funding from the Safe Restart funding program from the federal and provincial governments to help alleviate the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic the city will have to show the province it is willing to make difficult decisions and be fiscally responsible during this pandemic.
7. Many facilities in the city will have to be sacrificed to facilitate the construction of the proposed indoor turf facility. Vale Community Centre. Jumbo Gardens Community Centre and the Port Arthur Stadium are just some of the facilities on the city's hit list. Dease Pool has already been the city's first casualty. Will Chapples and Stratcona golf courses be part of a fire sale like Municipal Golf Course?
8. The World Health Organization reported the highest number of new cases this weekend as countries are now preparing for a second wave of the COVID-19. The economic fallout that will occur in Thunder Bay is very uncertain.
9. Low-income earners and many seniors are unable to keep up to the high taxes in this city and many on council just can't relate to the fact that so many are living on so little. These part-time councilors are making more as councilors than many of us are living on and this is usually just a secondary or retirement job for them.
10. The city conducted a survey on the proposed indoor turf facility and the majority of respondents stated that this project should be delayed. There has been no plebiscite on this $50-million project. (Included in this cost estimate is interest on the $15-million debenture the city will have to take out and cost over run of about 20 per cent)
Please contact your councilor to voice your concerns.