Runners run for the first turn during the primary (Grade 1 – 3) race at the annual J. Douglas Hodgson Elementary School Cross-Country Meet on Thursday Oct. 1 in Haliburton. There were more than 350 runners from 12 area schools such as Wilberforce Elementary School Stuart Baker Elementary School and Archie Stouffer Elementary School in Minden./DARREN LUM Staff

Tax hike well above inflation

To the Editor

The front page banner in last week’s Echo noted “Dysart council discusses modest increase to tax rate.”

Details provided in the story inside noted that Dysart council expects to pass its budget in March.

Unfortunately that story also notes that councillors are looking at a 5.87 per cent increase in the levy.

Given that inflation in Canada ran at about 1.4 per cent last year I can’t imagine how any person would consider a tax increase more than four times the rate of inflation as being modest. Only the very fortunate will see their income rise by anywhere near 5.87 per cent in 2017. That means most families will have to make the difficult choices necessary to cut back elsewhere in order to pay the tax bill.

For the past few years our elected leaders pointed to the increased costs related to the charges for OPP services. They are a factor. However the increase in those costs for 2017 totals less than $300000. That means other line items in the budget are also rising much faster than the rate of inflation.

We have no choice but to pay our tax bill. Taxes rising faster than our incomes means that citizens are left to make the tough decisions. Will we have to cut back on food purchases or clothing for the kids give less to charity tell the kids we can no longer afford to enrol them in hockey or some other activity stop saving for post secondary education or retirement or whatever?

Certainly there is a need for services in our community. However when the cost of local government rises faster than the combination of inflation and the growth in the assessment base for our community there are likely to be serious consequences. Councillors need to use their experience imagination and creativity to identify programs that are no longer really required and find efficiencies in what they do decide is mandatory. Otherwise one can only conclude our councillors don’t believe it is their job to make tough decisions. They are simply passing that obligation on to the families in our community.

Rather than “modest” one might more appropriately use huge staggering or excessive to describe the proposed tax increase. Hopefully before passing this budget our elected councillors will consider the consequences for local families of their own failure to make the tough decisions.

John D. Smith