Taxes needed for the financial health of a town
Being tax time I have noticed numerous letters to the editor being published bemoaning this year’s recent tax increases, municipal and otherwise, and while I acknowledge the validity of some of the grievances I question the reasoning of others. I myself wish to live in a vibrant, healthy community that is capable of attracting and sustaining business and families, young and old. A vibrant and sustainable community needs a reliable, sustainable infusion of funds to maintain and improve with age.
Some of the letters imply that the taxes collected are excessive and being directed to projects that are not needed or wanted by the taxpayers. As a taxpayer here in Lake Cowichan, I would like to go on record as saying that over the last 10 years I think the past mayor and councils did an absolutely competent job with both their budgets and the town improvements. Although I am not an accountant in any way, the numbers I did understand sounded just for the projects that they were applied to and the improvements made were needed both for present and future town residents and businesses alike.
At the same time, I also understand that community members and families have budgets they need to build and maintain in order to live and participate in our community in a manner that is financially healthy for the town and its citizens. So that being said, we live in a capitalist economy that is primarily based on growth, which naturally produces inflation. A simplification to be sure; however, my understanding is that inflation, generally speaking, averages about 1.5 per cent to a two per cent increase a year most years for the average household. This yearly increase needs to be taken into account whether for a household or municipal budget. I am not sure of the municipal financial logistics but I would think the same basic math would apply there as well. Subsequently, my personal civic responsibility is to anticipate and budget for these financial increases accordingly, which includes my future retirement income as well, or in my case, my semi-retirement, if I’m fortunate enough to make it there.
Accordingly, in the 11 years I have lived in Lake Cowichan I have observed some outstanding and needed upgrades that include the traffic calming islands with sidewalks, a traffic circle, and much-needed improvements to water and sewer infrastructure. As well, we have seen the addition of Ts’uubaa-asatx Square, the new library, a new swimming dock, and improvements to the baseball fields.
I personally believe it is because we have wisely invested in our town over the last 10 years that is responsible for several mid-size businesses establishing themselves in our town during this time. I question if some of the recent business arrivals would have chosen to establish roots in our town as it was in say, circa say 2007? Would the Co-op Gas Corporation have bought the old gas station on South Shore Road and spent the millions of dollars needed to upgrade for a long term investment? Would the private investors have purchased the Riverside Pub and completed the remarkable renovation there? How about South Shore Cabinets and the excellent improvements they have made along one of our main roads? I cannot answer for any of these fine Lake Cowichan businesses but I believe our town is very much improved for the economic growth these dynamic businesses have brought and ultimately, I believe, they are here because we contributed to the financial health of our town through taxes.