Thunder Bay Chamber and City at Odds
THUNDER BAY – The City of Thunder Bay and the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce appear to be at odds over a report prepared for the Chamber of Commerce by two Lakehead University Professors. “While the City fully respects and appreciates the Chamber’s important role in bringing the perspective of business related to City spending and taxation, the Chamber also has a responsibility to get the facts right,” Mayor Keith Hobbs said today in reference to a letter sent to the Chamber Friday following a meeting with Chamber representatives.
The Mayor is set to deliver the State of the City address to the Chamber of Commerce.
“The report applies incorrect assumptions with respect to tax rates, tax forecasts and assessment changes,” says a letter to Board Chair Uli Walther from the Mayor, City Manager Tim Commisso and Carol Pollard, City Treasurer and General Manager – Finance and Corporate Services.
“It is regrettable that the Chamber did not provide the draft of the Report for review and comment by the City of Thunder Bay through the City Manager and/or others who are experts in municipal finance and municipal tax,” the letter continues.
“By including a highly inflated forecast for tax increases, it has served to alarm taxpayers. Over the last five years, the total property taxes levied by the City have gone up on average three per cent a year, with one per cent of that amount dedicated to infrastructure renewal. Given recent and projected growth in the overall tax assessment base, we have every reason to expect that trend will continue over the next few years”.
Thunder Bay City Administration is proposing a 3.5 per cent tax increase for the 2014 Budget.
“The Chamber represents over 1000 business including 15,000 employees and their families who are concerned about rising costs,” comments Charla Robinson, President of the TBCC. “The purpose of our report is to provide information on areas where the city lags in efficiency compared to similar communities. We believe City Council needs to reduce operating costs”.
“We would be quite pleased to see tax increases come in lower than the projections and certainly hope that council will take the necessary steps to reduce spending.
We are glad that these important conversations are taking place.
We look forward to continuing discussions with the city to find solutions to the concerns we have raised about cost control.