Monday, January 18, 2016

Musings by Howard Famme on Proposed 2016 Budget

2016 Budget Musings

I recently reviewed the audited financial statements for the City of Stratford.

The present council is to be congratulated for the excellent results over the last 4 years wherein the annual surplus for years 2012 - 2014 was  .8 M. , 11.4 M and 3.3 M respectively with an accumulated surplus at December 31, 2014 of 218.6 M.  This has also resulted in reductions of net debt, particularly long-term debenture debt from 86.3M down to 71.1 M being basically 5 M repayment per year.

I am very concerned when I read about budget increases to taxation of 4.1% with some councillors saying that they would be happy with an increase of 3.5%.  Such increases in property taxes are unacceptable.  Inflation in the most recent month has only been at 1.4% annually.

Our present financial situation has arrived at the lofty surpluses because we are at present paying down debenture debt from the past of 5M per annum, purchasing new capital assets of 10 M per annum and building up total reserves for the future of 4 M over the last 4 years.  The present taxpayers are funding 3 generations of costs.

This system is particularly hard on the large number of seniors who are living on fixed incomes.  These people have worked hard all their lives, they have paid taxes all their lives and they should expect to have security to enjoy their homes in their advancing years.  In spite of  what we’re told at times, taxes are high in Stratford.  My annual bill of $7,600 compares to friends with similar properties in Barrie of $6,300 and Toronto of $5,600.

I challenge council to bring in a budget at a 0 tax increase.  Mayor Mathieson (who is now in a record 13th consecutive year as mayor)  brought in a budget with an actual tax reduction in his first year as mayor.

We will hear the argument from management that this is not sustainable.  This is a myth as Stratford has seen a tremendous increase in new assessment which will add an additional $700,000 + to the taxation revenue in 2016.  This growth is in full swing and will sustain future increases in expenditures.  At the same time we need less municipal government, not more.

Please hold the line on taxes in Stratford so all can continue to enjoy the tremendous attributes of this great city.

Howard Famme

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