January 20, 2018
Puslinch Township Council:
Mayor Dennis Lever and Township Councillors Wayne Stokley, Matthew Bulmer, Susan Fielding, and Ken Roth
First we would like to thank you for your commitment to transparency and for providing us the taxpayers the opportunity to have some input into the budget. Also thank you to Paul for his presentation on the budget. It is never easy to keep calm in the face of adversity… facing the firing squad so to speak, answering the questions of all that came to the meeting and were clearly upset.
Second we would like to make it abundantly clear that we are opposed to the current purposed budget and we ask that council review the budget and make cuts to reflect a ZERO increase to property tax for the township portion.
We also agree with many of the points brought up by residents at the meeting on Thursday January 21st:
- The township budget should reflect “Needs” first and only address “Wants” if there is extra capital to pay for it without increasing taxes.
- The township has a spending problem. As we do not have a balanced budget and continue to go into debt each year.
- Taxes should only increase if absolutely necessary and more at a level reflected by inflation. As we all already see an increase in valuations of our homes and properties via MPAC and this should be the only increase we see.
- Fixed income seniors, families and all households are already hurting from increases in household costs from Hydro, Food, Insurances, Utilities etc. another increase in our taxes may cripple some households and may lead residents to relocate to other communities with far lesser taxes and more services to show for it.
- Increased tax rates will not be appealing to new industry/business or new residents looking to re-locate here.
- Larger projects and spending needs should be reviewed to see if there are ways to “trim the fat” – whether it is out sourcing man power, buying used (fire equipment), shopping around for the best pricing for needed projects and maybe scaling back projects to only what is needed. Also looking to provincial and or federal funding to help with these costs.
- Concerns over our debt carrying over the next 20 plus years and what are we putting in reserves for our emergency funds.
So how does a successful business balance this? Within both of our businesses we have not had to increase our pricing to our clients in over 6 years on the contrary we have found efficiencies within our business that we have been able to offer discounts and reduced fees. How did we do that? The answer is two fold – reduce costs and increase income. As our business grew our buying power increased – so we were able to buy our supplies at lower costs and we shopped around having our suppliers compete for our business. With more clients our overhead costs went down as they are now spread out over more clients. Our staff are always looking for ways to do their job more efficiently and we reward them for it and pass the savings onto our clients. We advertised within our budget, expanded our service area and continued to offer great service at competitive prices and therefore our clients spread the word, and so we grew. If council employed this train of thought to running and budgeting for the township we could easily expand and thrive in this community and eventually have the money for the wants and niceties.
We believe the one thing council hasn’t looked at is how can we increase our capital without increasing taxes? We know that it was said at the meeting that council is looking into enticing new commercial industry. We would like to know exactly how and what council is doing to accomplish this. We did not hear how council is enticing new residents and what the plan for residential expansion is. Maybe look at the bylaws that currently only allow property owners to split off lots every 5 years – and consider reducing this to every 2 years. Maybe look into allowing for more residential development such as the Aberfoyle Mill Community – that would be considered slightly more affordable then the estate development communities.
We hope council considers our suggestions, and takes a good look at changing the budget on Feb 3rd.
Ron & Tanya Tagwerker