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Crocodile tears?

Dear editor:

We just reviewed articles on taxation, user fees, and the problems regarding the severe impact of a major industry receiving a huge municipal tax reduction—and the cost of those taxes being shifted onto the Fort Frances residential ratepayer.

Councillors are crying it’s tax time again and they want you, the public, to know how sincerely concerned they are having to download these taxes onto the residential taxpayer, along with a modest tax hike.

But after hard work, long midnight hours, and caustic review, they find there is nothing else they can do.

Are they just “crocodile tears” or are they really concerned about us.

Over the last several years, taxes were downloaded from both the industrial and commercial tax base onto you, the residential taxpayer, by these same councillors, who had no problem endorsing town budgets which force you in difficult times to puck up an unfair burden of the commercial and industrial tax base.

Council cared less if you were on a fixed income or not.

When asked to publish a listing of tax write-downs, write-offs, and charity tax forgiveness in the local newspaper, they refused. They continue to refuse even though you, the taxpayer, are footing these write-off bills directly from your pocket.

It’s time to be transparent and let us know where and how we are being hit.

To complicate matters further, the Ontario government recently reassessed the market value of properties for tax purposes. Market values have been artificially increased over the next few years by several thousands of dollars.

Who would have “thunk” that in a recession, your home would get hit with higher phantom taxes because the government said your house will be worth more on the future housing market, so Mr. and Ms. Taxpayer pay more.

There is no concern expressed by government that a recession is going on, no regard that thousands of workers are laid off, no regard that the forest, mining, and manufacturing sectors have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs, no regard our economy is in severe trouble, no regard the Canadian dollar is decimated against the U.S. dollar, and certainly no regard for those on fixed incomes who cannot survive the annual inflation rate, which weakens their purchasing power.

Get it straight: We do not want any new taxes and new user fees—and we don’t want this downloading shoved down our throats. It’s enough already!

Taxpayers no longer can afford to pay these taxes, and it is unfair to force those on fixed incomes to lose their homes (those on fixed incomes have nowhere to turn).

A suggestion, if council is having a difficult time running our town’s financial affairs, is to bring in an independent consultant to review the entire town budget—revenue and expenditures. Let this consultant, without instruction, determine where cutbacks and tax savings can occur.

Should early retirement incentives be put in place, where employees can be downsized by attrition? Can we save by being smarter and investing more wisely? Equipment use, purchasing, allowing different and new ideas to be a part of the process.

Let’s do an independent study to find out how we can survive in these tough times.

We are confident, since Fort Frances’ population base has eroded over the years, that town operations should reflect that change—and this should result in savings for all town taxpayers.

We encourage Mayor Avis to challenge council to make the tough decisions necessary to forgo any tax increases until such time as a meaningful and thoughtful, line by line, independent cost analysis report is brought before council.

We know this will be difficult, but necessary.

Thank you,

Wm. Krukoski and

Allan T. Bedard

Fort Frances, Ont.

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