I’d like to start by saying thank you to everyone who braved the cold last night to attend the Public Meeting on the proposed 2016 Tax Increase in Puslinch. I’d also like to thank township staff and council members for hosting and attending the meeting. It was a night in Puslinch like I’ve never seen in my 16 years here. So many people showed up at the township offices that it was over-capacity and the meeting had to be moved to the Community Centre to accommodate everyone. An absolutely tremendous turnout!
Unfortunately for those in attendance, Council members were not part of the presentation and took no questions from the audience. Instead, Paul Creamer, Township Treasurer/Director of Finance, gave a presentation on the budget and then took questions from the audience. In spite of being told not to direct questions and comments at council members most of the audience members who spoke did so in a roundabout way. Asking Mr. Creamer direct questions meant for councillors that he could not answer because when it comes right down to it – he is not responsible for setting the budget agenda – council is.
Mr. Creamer did try to emphasize that Puslinch is only a small portion of your tax bill but I think the audience saw right through that attempt to deflect criticism. Everyone knows that ALL portions of our tax bill are going up at many multiples of the inflation rate so ALL levels of government need to cut back their spending.
Not one member of the audience spoke in favour of the increased spending over the next few years with a somewhat unanimous overall consensus that budgets should be kept in line with the rate of inflation. Many spoke of the need to live within our means in our small rural community with concerns raised about reserve funds, ability for seniors to absorb the increases and the need for all the new spending being proposed.
On February 3rd council will have a meeting at 9am to discuss any changes to the proposed budget. It is my hope that council heard the public loud and clear last night and will re-work this years budget and the forecasts for the next 5 years as well. On Feb 17th council will vote to ratify the budget.
As one letter we received stated: “If this proposed increase is passed by these Councillors, remember this in the next Election!”. I would add: ‘remember not only who voted for it, but who proposed these increases in the first place’ as we need to be mindful of those who are always looking out for the taxpayers, and those who only are when faced with a public backlash.