I think Coun. John Illes is taking a step in the right direction by personally taking the time to visit small business owners to find out if they had any concerns.
I am sure that by asking small business owners if they had any concerns prior to the village’s budget talks did not illicit any concerns the individual business owners didn’t already have.
An issue is an issue, regardless of where it is discussed. Likewise, If community members approach a councillor when they are out and about in the community with their concerns, rather than coming to council, I don’t think it makes their issues any less valid.
Councillors are elected to represent the community and I think Coun. Illes actions are certainly in-tune with this.
In fact, to not go out and connect with local constituents, but rather sit back and wait for a coalition to come to the table to express concerns is not really being a proactive member of council, but rather a reactive one. As I see it, the ‘job’ of being a councillor is not just to sit behind desks in the council chambers and wait until issues are brought to you, but to go out and listen to people, hear what they are saying and help if you can.
Again, this budget time, Coun. Beach is concerned about how a 20 or 22 per cent increase sounds to the general public.
It is what it is and there is no disguising the fact that council is proposing some sort of an increase.
Whether Lakes District News reports it as a percentage or a dollar amount, which both figures were announced at the council table and both have been reported, any member of the public sitting in on the village’s budget meeting could have heard the same thing.
In fact it was Coun. John Illes who mentioned that the increase for water amounted to 20 per cent and the increases for sewer amounted to 22 per cent and it was Mayor Luke Strimbold who suggested to council that they should be mindful of the fact that a 20 and 22 per cent increase is quite a significant one.
Regardless, it sounds like the village are in a little bit of a pickle with current rates for municipal water and sewer. Obviously there does need to be some increases so the village can get out of their deficit.
I think that the formula the village is currently using for water and sewer rates does need to be fixed. Why, for instance, should a small business with just a one employee and one toilet pay as much for water and sewer as a local business with several employees and a toilet available to the public? It just doesn’t seem fair.
Perhaps, rather than one big immediate increase council could consider a gradual increase in residential water and sewer rates to help cover costs.
Maybe schedule smaller increases over the next five years so it is not such an immediate burden on local taxpayers. I don’t think many taxpayers would raise a fuss over a four per cent increase. A four per cent increase over the next five years would also result in a 20 per cent increase in water and sewer rates.
Also, perhaps council should consider adjusting the formula for commercial water and sewer rates to make it a more level playing field. Tax fairly, rather than equally.