Collingwood Mayoral Candidate Chris Carries Addresses The Rotary Club
of Collingwood in his inaugural campaign address
afternoon, Mr. Peycha, President MacDonald, Thank you for the
opportunity to address you and your fellow Rotarians this afternoon.
many familiar faces in the crowd.
like to acknowledge the tremendous contributions Rotary has made
throughout the world with your Polio Plus Program to eradicate polio,
the Rotary Student Exchange program and in your local efforts with
continued contributions to Collingwood such as Rotary Park and the
Johnson Trust to name only two examples.
18th marks your Club’s 37th anniversary. I congratulate you for your
personal and club contributions that have helped make Collingwood the
truly great community that it is. I can not think of a more
appropriate group to speak to, to officially launch my bid to be your
Mayor of our great Town, Collingwood. With a room full of successful
Entrepreneurs from businesses and professions, I thought that I would
discuss fiscal municipal management and the choices that the current
Council has faced and the similar decisions we will be looking at in
the next four years.
|The Town of
Collingwood’s projected debt as of December 31 2006 is $35 381 290.00.
$11 553 330.00 of that is new debt for 2006. And just what are we
spending it on you ask?
- The new Airport Terminal- $330
000.00 (General Taxes)
- Simcoe Street Parking Lot-$300
000.00 (General Taxes)
- Library Requirement for 2006 $550
300.00 (General Taxes)
- East End Sewer Main- $744 000.00
- Mountain Road Realignment $498
000.00 (General Taxes)
- Cambridge Street (our portion)
$281 000.00 (General Taxes)
- The Sewer Replacement Program $2
650 000.00 (User Fee)
- The South End Servicing Project $6
200 000.00 (Area specific charges and the selling of Town owned
property within the development.)
|Most of the
new debt is financed through sewer surchage and special area
development charges and or a local community improvement charge. (User
Fees). Of the $35 million of total debt $10 452 771.00 is financed
through the General Tax Levy. In 2007 an additional $9 800 000.00 of
debt financing is proposed.
more can we absorb? That is a very good question. In fiscal budget
2006, the Town came out with an approximate 3.5% tax hike. Why so
the increased assessment values, new assessment with the hundreds of
new residential homes/condo units and the thousands of square feet of
commercial development most of the original budget increase was
absorbed by the new assessment?
those of you who instead of asking why so little of a tax increase
asked why so much?
The answer is simple; the Town of Collingwood has never charged enough
user fees therefore you the general taxpayer is subsidizing services
you do not use. For example if the Planning Department User Fee
schedule adopted by Council in the past few weeks had been in place
for fiscal budget 2006, our tax increase would have been less than 1%.
Can we absorb new debt? That answer is not so simple. With continued
new assessment, stronger cost recovery models, and most importantly
informed decisions at the Council table the answer could be a fiscally
|Now I am
not going to relive the battles of the Council Table here today, but I
will talk about 3 decisions made at the Council table that will have
and have had an effect on finances and future tax increases.
original Parking study of 2002 gave Council a plan to improve the
parking issue downtown. We were following the plan until a majority
decision of Council to purchase two properties (The Livery Palace and
the Tremont Hotel) for $2,295,000.00 plus or minus. We had a parking
reserve fund of $1.4 million (now gone) and the remainder came from
the general reserves. The Parking Study was in the process of being
reviewed to ensure that the previous 2006 major capital investment
recommendation (a two tiered parking structure) was still required.
The parking study review was cancelled the day following the majority
decision to purchase the properties.
2. The recent change in the downtown parking fees (the two-hour
exemption) was also done in the absence of an updated parking study
(which is currently under way). Now was this the right decision or the
wrong decision. In the absence of the revised parking study who would
honestly know? What I am certain of is this decision has serious
financial implications to our revenue stream for our Parking Reserve
Fund. And I am also confident that none of you make financial
decisions affecting your bottom line without the necessary background
review and research.
3. The most recent decision to change the parking criteria formula for
the development proposal on the former Admiral Collingwood School site
once again before the parking study review is complete. This
development proposal is facing an OMB challenge, which among other
issues will determine whether or not there is a shortage of parking. I
questioned our Director of Planning about the Parking Consultant’s
recommendation and he confirmed that no opinion had been sought of him
as to the appropriateness of the recommendation with which the
majority of Council has used to justify their decision to approve the
|Now let me
perfectly clear, the issue I raise is not parking per se, but the
making of decisions in the absence of information. As I said earlier,
you, of all people knows the perils of this kind of sloppy fiscal
|Now let us
get back to my question of how much more debt can we absorb and
remember an additional $9, 800,000.00 of debt financing is required
for 2007. You will determine the answer by deciding whom you will vote
for in this new 4-year term. Let me just review for a moment. The
Tremont and Livery Palace converted liquid assets ( 2 million in cash
from your reserve funds) and also took two properties off of the tax
roll. The free parking will have an impact on the Parking Reserve Fund
revenue stream. And the changing of the parking criteria formula
eliminated the requirement of the contribution of cash in lieu of
parking by $138,000.00 up to $920,000.00 depending on how you
calculate the cost of parking spaces.
fiscal years who will make up the cash shortfalls? Sooner or later and
it will be sooner, we the general taxpayers will have to pay!
Mayor I will ensure the facts are in front of Council in order for us
to make well-informed financial decisions.
Mayor I will ensure staff opinions are given due consideration at the
As Mayor and Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation of the Town of
Collingwood I will ensure the decisions affecting debt financing are
clear and understandable for your Council.
Mayor I will work with our Provincial and Federal Government
representatives (both of whom I have trusted working relationships
with) to support funding formulas that reflect the local governments
ability to raise revenue. Out of every tax dollar raised in the
province of Ontario, the local level collects only 7 cents so why are
we always expected to contribute 33 cents.
Mayor I will pledge to work with the Association of Municipalities of
Ontario and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for broad base
property tax reform. That will be the only way for us to achieve
significant long-term sustainable local tax levels. Property taxes
must not be used for income re-distribution. Those are the
responsibilities of both the Provincial and Federal Governments.
|Now how do
you know I will keep those commitments? I have served nine consecutive
years on Council. My relationship with all senior staff is excellent.
They earned my respect long ago and I know I have theirs. I am a good
listener, thorough researcher with proven analytical skills, all of
which are essential to be a good businessperson and a politician. But,
I can not emphasize this last point enough, I have never forgotten,
that I serve your interests! I know I am effective Councilor and I
have enjoyed it immensely.
|Now I am
asking for your support and your vote to become the Mayor of
Rotarians continue to make a difference, and I, as your Mayor, will do