Monday is election day. It may be the most important municipal election in the twentieth century, not because it’s the last of the millennium, but it’s the first involving a major restructuring of provincial/municipal financial responsibility.
Those elected to town councils will face struggles their predecessors didn’t have to face. They are the people who will continue to provide police and fire protection, social services, public health, land ambulance service—and the list goes on.
It’s a huge responsibility.
Hopefully, the cost of providing those services will be offset by the reduction of school taxes, and not increase the burden to local taxpayers.
If the exchanges are not equal, councils will need the wisdom of Solomon and the courage of David to maintain the area’s reputation as a “caring community.” The people we elect will have to be more frugal with our tax dollars, but balance that with compassionate to maintain those responsibilities.
School boards will not be so fortunate. Their authority to raise funds by taxation for local schools and services is being eliminated. Yet they are expected to improve the quality of education under provincial guidelines that no one has seen.
Their task will be to lobby the provincial government so that the needs of students in Rainy River, Atikokan, Nestor Falls—and all communities between—all receive equal attention, and ensure one area’s needs are not met at the expense of students in another part of the district.
Our elected officials will not have an easy road ahead of them. When—not if—you go to the polls Monday, think over your choices carefully and choose those who you feel can meet the future head on. Seek people who set the interests of the district first.
Remember, those elected Monday will set the agenda for how business is done in municipalities and school boards for the next two or three decades. The issues are too big not to vote.