Milton, Ont. February 8, 2016
Milton council showed its total disdain for the rural community last night.
The majority (6 of 11) voted to increase taxes to the rural area by virtue of creating a uniform tax rate for the entire town, one tax rate for all.
On the surface, one could say that sounds fair - but is it? We do get snow plowing but it's done at a lower cost on rural roads with the trucks speeding along at 80K or more, taking out the odd mailbox, which we have to replace ourselves, but I digress.
The rural area doesn't get a lot of the services urbanites get, nor is it requested - like sidewalk plowing (there are no sidewalks), streetlights, street cleaning, and public transit.
Mike Cluett said to me in an email: "Given the current system we have, it would be impossible for us to provide transit to that area if residents aren’t paying for it." There is no intention of providing public transit to the rural area, yet he has no problem making the rural resident pay for what is basically a transit tax.
After hearing 22 speakers, the majority of council still voted to stick it to the rural taxpayer - we are a smaller community with only 2 councillors to represent ward 3, the largest ward in Milton, but a ward with fewer people.
We were in the overflow room downstairs where the live video was very poor quality, so for that reason I can't state exactly how everyone voted. And any material shown on overheads was impossible to be read. (Milton, when will you make things equal for all who take the time to attend a council meeting? but again, I digress.) I do know councilors Lunau, Best and Huffman voted in support of the rural sector. More importantly, the names of whom we need to be aware, are the 6 who voted against fairness. Malboueff, Cluett and DiLorenzo are three of them.
The sad thing is that this could be the straw that broke the camel's back. The tax increase will be especially felt by rural business owners, most of whom are already marginal at best. We've lost so many businesses over the years.
And the farmer, who was already hard hit with the province's actions against the horse industry, and who struggles every day to maintain the viability of the farm - every penny impacts on their bottom line. This tax increase is another strike against them.
Rural residents have seen their assessments (and taxes) shoot up since the rural area got wrapped up in the Green Belt.The tax burden just got much heavier for them.
All this was pointed out to council last night by the 22 delegations but it didn't mean a damn thing