To the editor,
The city's high taxes make Thunder Bay less competitive and reduce the attractiveness of the community for new business and residents to locate here according to the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce.
The tax increase this year will cost city homeowners on average approximately $200 more. Thunder Bay already has the highest taxes and tax rates in Northern Ontario and second highest in the province.
Some on council stated that economic growth, particularly attracting new industry, is the only way out of the city's financial challenges.
What council fails to mention is their inability to control spending that contributes to Thunder Bay's high taxes and tax rates. This in turn hurts economic growth and new industry and prevents residents from locating to Thunder Bay.
The city also needs to provide its existing services with fewer employees in order to hold the line on taxes according to many, including Livio Di Matteo, professor of economics at Lakehead University.
The city has approximately 2,800 employees with 599 on the Sunshine List making an average of about $128,303.
The city released a proposed budget of $538 million, an increase of $23.5 million over last year's budget. It should be noted that the city receives $18 million from TBayTel and approximately $2.5 million from the Thunder Bay Casino.
With all this revenue one would wonder why the city is so far in debt (over $200 million) and taxes are so high.
The answer is simple. The spend and tax policy of this manager and council and previous ones is not working. Is administration and council not hired to manage our tax dollars?
At budget time they always use the same old excuses. We have to cut services or increase taxes. Let's be honest they need to control spending.
As some previous letter writers to this newspaper have stated, stop spending. Let's maintain what we've got.
Administration and council are out of touch with the average taxpayer. It should be noted that many businesses, industrial and commercial, are in the process of appealing their taxes. Some will be successful and how does the city expect to make up this shortfall?
Some cities in Ontario, including Toronto, have an auditor general on staff who assists city council in holding itself and staff accountable to taxpayers.
Perhaps this is what Thunder Bay needs.