Concerns for Township of the North Shore Council's mismanagement of municipality
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We the signatories, require that the Mayor and Council cease making decisions that are contrary to Official Plans, prudent fiscal responsibility, and common sense that are driving our taxes higher and higher! We require that the Mayor and Councillors operate in a manner that does not breach the trust we gave them upon election that is consistent with the Code of Conduct.
This systemic disregard for statutory guidelines and official plans, and seemingly arbitrary decision making diminishes public confidence in our local municipal government and is placing a financial burden on many taxpayers. Taxpayer dissatisfaction has been expressed regularly and passionately in open Council Meetings.
Bylaw 15-27 passed by Council resulted in our Township assuming responsibility for 1 kilometre of the private Lau Camp Road, at no personal cost to the owners and an estimated upgrade cost of $200,000 to general taxpayers. Now our taxes will go to maintaining it. The fair and common standard and recommendation in the Official Plan is for a road upgrade by owners prior to being assumed by a Township. Subsequent to this decision our tax rate and taxes have gone up. On at least 3 occasions at public meetings, Council was asked to explain this expensive decision and the response was “Council made a decision” or “I will look into that and get back to you….I don’t need to tell you when”. We believe that assuming ownership of more private roads MUST ONLY be approved after the owner(s) has/have upgraded it to municipal standards AND if subsequent maintenance costs are financially acceptable to an already tax overburdened community.
In 2015 policing costs were removed from the general tax revenues paid by all taxpayers and added as a user fee. This fee appears to have been paid only by residences, businesses and commercial. Owners of vacant land apparently do not pay for policing. The $192.37 price tag has gone to $284.05 in 2017. That is a 48% increase in 3 years. By removing policing from the general tax levies, lower assessment property owners pay more and higher assessment property owners, arguably at higher risk in the need for policing, pay less. In fact some property owners pay nothing! Seasonal residents pay the full price despite only being here seasonally. Whatever method the OPP used to calculate policing costs for our township should have no bearing on how those general policing services are recovered through taxes. We believe this is not only unfair but an inappropriate use of user fees. Only 3 other municipalities in Ontario chose this arrangement for policing! In our opinion policing MUST be removed as a user fee and returned to the general tax revenue budgeting process.
Council chose to build the “Road to Nowhere” paralleling the highway off the Lauzon Village Road, allegedly for a view point (yet to be built) at a cost of somewhere near $200,000. At open council meeting August 23, 2017, Mayor Condie offered that the road was not paid with taxes. He offered no further explanation. Discussion with Township staff has led us to believe that no money came to the Township earmarked for that specific purpose but the road was paid for with Township money. Taxpayers cannot afford to have Council, in our opinion, squander monetary resources on non-essentials, while we go further into debt to pay for necessities like water treatment plant upgrades.
On Feb 2, 2017, as noted in Council meeting minutes, Council was alerted to the fact that due to an assessment decrease, allegedly over 6%, there would be a resulting tax revenue shortfall of approximately $48,000. This shortfall, in combination with all other expenditures by Council led them to approve a tax rate increase of 25%!! There was no courtesy of an explanation by Council as to this extraordinary and unexpected increase. It was reflected only in the alarmingly inflated taxes owing in the final tax bill.
We are further disturbed that Council continues to make what we believe to be financially irresponsible decisions. Despite soaring taxes and the regular expression of dissatisfaction by taxpayers, on Sep 20, 2017 Council voted to make the construction of a viewing platform at the end of “The Road to Nowhere” a priority for this year!
Your municipal government Code of Conduct states “Local government is an open, accessible, and accountable form of government. The relationship of public trust and mutual respect that has evolved between government and the public requires high standards of ethical conduct by municipal council members”. Our confidence in the current Council to responsibly manage the affairs of our community, is greatly diminished. If the Mayor and any Councillor cannot honestly care for our community’s needs and maintain fiscal responsibility on behalf of the public, in our opinion, they should step down.
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