Since The Review December 20, 2017 article “Champlain Budget 8.96% more taxes to be collected in 2018,” I have heard through the grapevine that reconsideration is being given to Champlain Town Council’s approval of the increase. If so, it is refreshing to hear, because it tells me that other readers of The Review may also have reacted to make a change.
Nevertheless, I can’t help but feel that our elected officials are more and more administrating taxation without careful consideration. Between the province and the municipality, I personally experienced three property re-assessments for tax increases in 2016 alone, not to mention those projected to 2020. How the provincial Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) can justify making these assessments years in the future is already beyond my comprehension. The municipality is talking about charging residents for expected development before they have repaired water system infrastructure. I wonder if they have negotiated between municipalities and the province for whom can pay and how water systems will be paid for.
I started a study last year that I will continue this year if nothing is done by Champlain Township before the fall 2018 election. What I’ve seen so far is that billing needs an overhaul to calculate how taxes are administered based on water usage. Council and township staff can be doing more internally to assess water usage, than paying consultants a lot of money for studies and issuing blanket increases years in advance. My study has so far revealed that not only have there been meters read incorrectly, but that there is a large percentage of single or two-person residences consuming much below what they are being charged for. The minimum consumption for which every residence is charged does not represent fairness, does not encourage conservation, and is not sustainable.
The residents of Vankleek Hill and L’Orignal have good reason to stand up against taxation that is disproportionate for the amount of land they own and/or for the household income they are able to generate. We need property tax – assessed on agricultural land and income, and from large business owners in the region – re-evaluated. Furthermore, borrowing money for water and sewer studies and improvements based on expected development cannot be justified by taxing residents who can’t afford it. (This letter was sent to Champlain Mayor Gary Barton, and to Grant Crack, MPP Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs.)
Laura Lea Macaulay,
Vankleek Hill