A few of the denizens of the once proud city gathered their children around a copy of the Windsor Star on May 11 so they could all pretend to be gullible and read a sermon on property taxation from Ward 9 councillor Hilary Payne.
For some reason, Payne wrote a letter to the editor of the paper to explain things. He is possibly jittery about the coming property tax increase, caused by him and his fellow council members not wanting to dip into their $185 million in slush fund (reserves) to pay for the new so-called mega hospital.
Payne does paint a nice picture of how Windsor is not living within its means, mostly because he and his council mates have ignored the city’s need for a robust economic development program. For some reason, the city is extravagantly using millions of taxpayer dollars to become a commercial entity running enterprises better operated by the taxpaying private sector.
Of course, Payne doesn’t say any of this. It is all there, however, between the lines.
According to him, because, “… property owners typically lack an understanding about taxes,” he must set the record straight. In regular speak, he is simply saying his mission is to spread more Francis council propaganda.
Neatly, he brings up the old saw about property values clouding the quietly moving waters of the Detroit River. There is, he explains, a, “… difference in assessed values from one municipality to another. Such values in, for instance, the Greater Toronto Area, will be much greater than in Windsor.”
Because of this, he reckons, the costs, “… of providing municipal services from one municipality to another is not that much different and the tax rate has to be set accordingly.”
Some in the city know full well this is simply nonsense.
Windsor is out of control with its spending on things like $21 million swimming competitions, money losing waterparks and arenas, and providing rent-free or subsidized space to the lucky chosen few it supports in the private sector.
Curiously, in Payne’s mind, taxes should cover the costs of providing services to the public. So why is the council providing services to the private sector and foreign swimming outfits?
He doesn’t cover that, but suggests taxpayer money is needed for, “… roads, sewers, parks, community centres, the list goes on and on.”
Oddly enough, he elects not to mention the city is shrinking its inventory of parks, community centres, etc. And, he asserts, cities with higher property values, “… typically have lower tax rates and municipalities such as Windsor with much lower assessment will typically have higher tax rates but can have below average tax burdens.”
All he is saying is the price to the community of a council sitting idle on economic development is higher tax rates which, in the end, become the reason the city has no economic development. Council has made the city too expensive.
As an outlandish final kicker, Payne pats himself and his brethren on the back.
Their fiscal prudence which, comically, he says after, “… eight straight years without a tax increase which four will have saved Windsor taxpayers over 20 years a combined increase in taxes of $1 billion.”
Payne concludes by pretending the council, “… will continue to ensure that the City is operated in the most efficient manner possible.”
Robert Tuomi can be heard at noon every Thursday co-hosting Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor on CJAM 99.1 FM. Listen on demand to previous episodes or catch the discussion live and join in. It is also streamed online at CJAM.