Monday, December 14, 2009

Collingwood'$ Debt Load to Double in 2010

As Canadians, we all gripe about taxes. Whether its our personal income tax, the GST or the forthcoming HST, they are all hot topics for discussion. Nonetheless, we begrudgingly accept them, our spending habits continue, life goes on.
Property taxes however seem to draw the greatest level of ire. Maybe it's getting that annual "assessment notice" or the "interim tax bill" or the fact that your bagged leaves never got picked up on time. Whatever it is , property taxes tend to infuriate us more than any other form of government cash grab.
Over the past few days I have heard numerous comments from Collingwood residents pertaining to an article in last week's Connection entitled "Municipal debt will almost double."
The crux of the article is that Collingwood's debt load will double to approximately $48.5 million by the end of 2010. Based on an estimated population of 24,600 including seasonal residents, every man woman and child in town owes $1,971. There goes my Xmas gift budget! Arguably some of the projects mentioned in the article are worthy ones. Others like a $3 million wellness centre? Well I'm not so sure they would stand the financial rigors of justification in the private sector world at least not the one that I came from.
The new library at $6 million is the largest project mentioned up for debenture in 2010. Sure a new library would be nice but when you have the likes of "Google" currently in the process of digitizing every book ever written, it really makes you wonder if spending money on bricks and mortar to house books is the way to go. I know one thing is certain, if libraries in the past had been run as private enterprise profit centres, the threat of books no longer being required in traditional print for people to borrow would be causing the ACME Library Company (if one existed) to close their doors for good or at least to revise their business model to search out sources of revenue elsewhere.
Regardless of where the money is spent, debt payments needs to be made. Spending money within their limits because it is "comfortable " as one Councillor put it hardly puts taxpayers minds at ease. Collingwood has the second highest tax rate in the southern Georgian Bay area second only to the Town of Meaford. The accompanying chart reflects what the 2009 property taxes would be on a house assessed at $350,000 in the area's various municipalities compared to a similar value house in Toronto. Admittedly, Toronto has a much larger tax base to draw from but what happened to the concept of moving to a small town because the cost of living is lower?
As 2009 draws to a close, 2010 will bring with it a municipal election year. The subject of taxes will no doubt be a hotly debated one amongst the various candidates. So the question on my current poll (above) pertains to how happy are you with Collingwood Council's current level of municipal spending?"

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Rick relocated to Collingwood from Toronto in 1985 through a transfer with Goodyear Canada. In 1987 Rick was recruited by a major client of Goodyear’s, managing their Canadian business based in Barrie before moving to Chicago in 1992 as Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Upon returning to Canada in 1996, Rick ran an industrial products manufacturing company in Stratford, Ontario. In 1998 Rick returned to Collingwood with his two children. Rick is a licensed real estate Broker with Royal LePAGE Locations North in Collingwood and holds his MVA designation (Market Value Appraiser-Residential). He is an active volunteer in the community serving several years on the Board of Directors with the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce as Treasurer, 6 years on the Board of Directors for the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® of which he is the Past President (2008) and currently serves on a committee with the Ontario Real Estate Association. Rick is a diverse executive manager with extensive experience in strategic planning, manufacturing, finance, human resources and quality assurance management.