“Option 7″ by Port Hopers for Fair Taxes applauded by crowd at Area Rating Info Event on Oct. 28
Port Hope, ON (Oct. 29, 2013) – Port Hopers for Fair Taxes held their first public meeting to a full house at the Lions Centre in Port Hope on October 28th. More than 350 people attended, with standing room only in the Lions Centre and overflow crowd in the Legion.
The crowd was attentive and enthusiastic as the three Ward 2 members (Ian Angus, Bill Bickle and Rick Norman) of the Area Rating Working Group ran through the nuts and bolts of area rating taxation in an easy-to-digest simplified format.
Former Hope Township Reeve, Ian Angus, gave an overview including the history behind the “merging of the two administrations” (amalgamation of the Township of Hope and the Town of Port Hope) in 2000, and the administration and tax issues that have resulted. Next a slideshow presented by Bill Bickle and Rick Norman filled in specific details and put forth “Option 7” which they are calling a fair, equitable and compliant option.
A few presentation points particularly captivated the audience. One was that it was a myth that Ward 1 paid more than Ward 2: the average Ward 2 household actually pays more tax ($3,488.) than the average Ward 1 household ($3,288.) on a whole-tax-bill basis. Another point stressed that since Ward 2 municipal taxes had already increased 20.9% from 2011 to 2013, if Council’s new proposed additional 46.9% Ward 2 tax increase is implemented, it would mean that Ward 2 would be hit with a 67.8% total increase since 2011.
A very lively Questions and Answers session followed.
The entire slideshow presentation is available for download at: http://www.porthopecommunitygroups.org/porthopersforfairtaxes/
Some Background on Area Rating Working Group:
The Area Rating Working Group, appointed by Council met from May 2012 through July 2013. The eight members of the Area Rating Citizen’s Working Group participated in over 20 meetings to review past practices and propose an updated or new approach to area rating taxation.
At the end of the July 22, 2013 Committee meeting, the three councillor committee members arbitrarily announced to the five citizen members that the committee was finished – despite the committee’s mandate being far from complete. The reason provided was because the Group had been unable to provide a recommendation by July 30th.
The Group was informed that the three councillor committee members (Linda Thompson, Rick Austin and Jeff Gilmer) would be handling the public consultation, dealing with the feedback, and making the final recommendation to Council for the Area Rating approach going forward instead of the Working Group. The majority of the committee was to have no say in what would be decided on their behalf. This action was contrary to Council’s direction and terms of reference, and abruptly prevented the citizen committee members from fulfilling the terms of reference they committed to carry out.
The Municipality of Port Hope held an Area Rating Open House on Oct. 21 and presented six options that are effectively all the same: a new Area Rating tax formula which would see municipal taxes increase by 46.9% in Ward 2 and drop by 7% in Ward 1. This new formula does not reflect the recommendations of the citizen members on the cancelled Area Rating Working Group committee.
Three citizen committee members (Ian Angus, Bill Bickle and Rick Norman) still believe in their responsibilities to carry out the terms of reference and to actively participate in the public discussions. They are preparing an “Option 7” (resulting from the public discussion and feedback) which will be submitted to Council for adoption.