Plea from a tax burdened resident

November 28, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By James Matthews

Some choices are only as difficult as you make them. And when it comes to matters of dollars and cents, most choices are made for you by the situation’s reality. It’s as simple as that. You just have to accept it and get on with it. 

It’s that way when deciding how much to spend on a car, a house, or even policing for a community. The economic reality has bearing on which car you should buy, when you should upgrade to a bigger house or leave a town altogether, and even when it comes to choosing the police service that patrols your municipality. Adhering to that little bit of Occam’s budgeting, so to speak, is paramount in these lean times.

It’s increasingly expensive to live and certain concessions have to be made to cover the costs of water, electricity, gas to keep the furnace lit, and whatever luxury items you can muster to make life somewhat enjoyable. Just as that’s the case in every home, it’s also the situation with every municipal government.

These are times you have to opt for a kitchen scotch even though you’re jonesing for a nip of the Glenfiddich. In these times, there’s little you can do about your choices. That’s a truth rooted in a particular situation’s reality that suggests your best option. Nothing costs a dollar and you’re hard-pressed to stretch one these days.

As Orangeville residents, we seem to have so much stacked against us. Indeed, pretty much everybody in Ontario is in the same boat. We’re yoked, man. Burdened. Orangeville’s homeowners are saddled with some of the highest property taxes in Ontario. And the hole is dug deeper every year. 

The crowd holding a very big shovel in that regard for Orangeville’s taxpayers is the local police service. OPS expenses for 2019 are pegged at almost $10 million. It’s the biggest budgetary line item that draws from the municipal purse each year. The OPP has estimated a cost of about $8 million in each of the first three years.

I don’t want to repeat the litany that’s been parroted ad nauseum. Anybody who has been following the issue is aware of the potential benefits from an OPP contract. The numbers have been beaten to death. I’m as tired having to write those figures as you are having had to read them these last few years. There are other factors to consider in this debate. They speak of a currency more valuable than the coin of any realm. They have to do with honesty and, as often springs from that, integrity.

I’ve heard it said that being less than forthcoming and withholding details is the same as being untruthful. You can agree with that or not. But the latest chapter in the ruckus that’s hamstrung Orangeville for the last handful of years has been complicated by obfuscation. And that’s what’s been most vexing: The people charged with the task of finding truth in criminal matters haven’t been on the up and up on their end of the OPP versus OPS debate.

Just recently there was some confusion about coin from development charges that may be generated in future by the Town, and how some of it could be spent on police equipment. OPS said the report referenced the replacement of three vehicles and equipment for seven existing officers. The consultant who did the report said, no, the indication was for three new vehicles and seven new officers.

And that would have influenced future OPS budgets, and made the OPP more attractive from an increased tax savings perspective.

The town’s chief administrative officer, Ed Brennan, an honourable man by all accounts, has given his thumbs up to the math, the cost and savings to be realized with a switch to the provincial police. It isn’t just an opinion, either. It’s a judgement informed by impartial consultants hired to poke and prod and weigh both sides of the issue, each business model. They are people who have put their names and their professional reputations at the footing of their summations. Compare that to the various ways Orangeville police brass has taken to obfuscation in how they handled the development charges report.

Orangeville taxpayers have a real chance to gain some financial wiggle room in these economically difficult times. Elected leaders working to make this town an attractive place for people to live can do so by making it affordable for the families already here and those to come. It’s time: Make positive change and make the switch to OPP.

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