With respect to your comments by way of editorial approving former Mayor Shortt’s request that police services not continue to be area rated, I direct you to the original restructuring documents. Mr. Shortt needs to read the Restructuring Order signed by the Minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing on March 31, 2000. It states in Section 17(2):
“The new municipality shall provide a special tax rate adjustment in respect of rateable property located in the geographic area of a former municipality to pay for police services if those services were provided on December 31, 2000.”
Since this an Order of the province, I do not believe the municipality has the right to change any of the provisions of that Order.
There was a very logical reason for this provision – the service level for the urban part of the municipality is higher than in the rural part of the municipality for obvious reasons.
So why should the rural areas pay an equal amount for police service when the urban area has more service?
The tax rate is the same for the whole municipality as directed by the Restructuring Order – it was phased in over eight years, again as per the Restructuring Order. The only difference in rates is rightfully for police services.
The only time we hear the statement that “we are all one municipality now” occurs when it benefits the urban area financially. When it comes to services such as road maintenance the rural part is the poor cousin. We will never be all one municipality when people like Mr. Shortt continue to want more for the urban area and have the rural part pay for it.
There is one more thing which should be re-evaluated – area rating for fire service. It was removed for 2009 taxation year, when the Meaford & District Fire Service costs were $438,919 in 2008, the year the decision was made to remove the area rating for fire service. Currently the cost for the Inter-township Fire Service is less than 25% of the total fire cost for the municipality and is consistently less than $200,000, whereas the Meaford & District Fire Service was budgeted at $616,100 for 2011. Clearly, those of us who live in the former Sydenham Township are subsidizing the Meaford & District Fire Service.
Before anyone, including the Council, speaks to the Restructuring Order, it would be wise for he/she to become completely familiar with its contents.
If Mr. Shortt truly wants fairness in the taxation for this municipality, every service should be area rated. It has been the case that the town of Meaford has been the major beneficiary of the forced amalgamation.
Dianne Charlton, Annan
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