Mayoral races are often what takes front stage in municipal elections.
An often posed question to mayoral candidates is one that is asked every four years – “if you win, how will you use my tax dollars for your term?”
Well, after the District of Port Hardy raised taxes by four per cent, it’s safe to say that finances are a big ticket item to discuss this year.
Elected mayor and council pushed a capital project (the multiplex) through without enough funding to even break the ground yet (Councillor Dennis Dugas was the lone vote against the project moving forward).
They weren’t able to receive enough grant funding. What that really means, no matter how you spin it, is that the financial burden was shifted away from government and on to the shoulders of Port Hardy taxpayers.
Our property taxes here continue to be one of the highest on the island, despite the average house value being one of the lowest in the province, according to findings compiled by Vancouver Island Free Daily Editor John McKinley.
And frivolous side projects are seemingly draining the municipal bank account – think, the windmill blade for example, though to be fair, no money has yet been spent on the project by the district, but the cost to remove it could be as high as $30,000.
The Fort Rupert Curling Club, G.E. Wilson Memorial Arena, underwent a major overhaul. In fact, the district agreed to replace the building’s roof, which was much needed, but what was originally a $130,600 project turned out to be roughly $260,000 in the end. What’s worse is that the renovation was completed without so much as a single grant to help out. The cost to demolish the curling club building would have been $560,000.
It seems with all these financial decisions made in the past four years, residents have got to think – how will my tax dollars be spent after the election? All we have to do is look at the candidates track record if they’re an incumbant. Take a glance at their pivotal decisions on major projects and if residents’ think that it was a good decision, then so be it.
But remember, there’s only so many times our taxes can be raised before it just gets to be too much strain.
It’s like the fable of the frog slowly being boiled alive. We won’t notice the tax raises much; a little bit here, a little bit there the next year, until it gets too much to bear all of a sudden.
Of course, no one is going to raise taxes to such an absurd rate without at least a justification, but we have to keep track of the raises each year. The projected tax base is planned to raise at a steady rate for the next four years, by the way. Well, at least until the multimillion-dollar capital project is paid off.
See for yourself on the district’s website under the most recent financial report. When you go to the voting station come this Oct. 20, just remember – how would you like your tax dollars spent?