THUNDER BAY – If you were only hearing the comments of only some of the Candidates in this municipal election you would think that Thunder Bay was going to hell in a handbasket. Rather than ill informed doom and gloom we need to focus on what has been achieved and what remains to be improved.
Fact # 1: One candidate has suggested that all of the economic activity in the last 4 years has been paid for by the taxpayer. Had he done his homework he would have found that only 23% ( or $161 million) of the building permits issued from 2010 to 2013 were for institutional construction. The remaining $548 million in building permits was from the private sector including nearly 220 million dollars spent on new housing and apartments and $316 million spent in the industrial and commercial sector. That’s shows confidence in our community and its economy through their willingness to invest in our future.
Fact # 2: Others are suggesting that we are digging ourselves further and further into debt as a City. That too is not accurate! Council has reduced its’ debt by $31 million since 2007 and we now have more money in our savings accounts (our reserves) than we owe. If you had more money in your bank account than you owed wouldn’t you feel positive? At the same time, because of prudent management of the finances of the City our credit rating has gone up from A+ in 2012 (where it had been since 1997) to AA-. That means we pay lower interest rates on what we owe and what we will borrow in the future.
Fact # 3: Then there are those who promote a 0% tax increase. We’ve tried that before and it didn’t work well. We are now paying for it by overcoming the significant deficit in rebuilding our roads, parks and other infrastructure. It’s also why some services have deteriorated over time! If you don’t keep up with inflation, inflation will do you in. Instead Council and Administration have worked hard to build up an infrastructure fund that allows us to catch up and eventually get ahead.
Council recognizes that there are many citizens who are house poor and cannot afford higher taxes, insurance fees, water bills etc. That’s why we put in place a rebate program for low income home owners so that they will not be forced to sell their homes and move into facilities that will cost taxpayers even more than the cost of the subsidy.
When a candidate says she/he will never approve a tax increase, you need to ask them what services they will cut back on or eliminate – seniors care, daycare, roads, sewers, water quality, environmental issues, fire, police and EMS services, parks, recreation – so that you learn the true cost of their promises.
We need to be proud of this community as it continues to move forward. It is better off today than it was four years ago. Let’s keep up the positive momentum!
Councillor at Large