When Stan Frost, the sitting Deputy Mayor came to Council a couple of terms ago he called himself “the taxfighter”. He didn’t exactly earn the title after this term overseeing a period of high spending and dedication to debt financing, and we still had tax increases instead of tax decreases. Obviously he learned very quickly that it is easy to talk about a tax decrease than to really enforce one.
With the news that Paul Pagnuelo has decided to run for the Deputy Mayor’s position it is obvious that the slogan “taxfighter” has entered another stage. Whether Mr Pagnuelo will have any sway, if elected, is debatable – after all he only has one vote and if the coordinator system is still in action the other Councillors will be defending the spending plans of the Staff very diligently, even if only to make themselves look good. So not only will he have to swing the other members of Council to his side but have to implement a culture change at City Hall. A very tall order for one newcomer member of Council.
He states in his press release (click on link to read it here) that Cobourg is a Town of high property taxes. It may be but when City people move into small Town Ontario they are loath to give up City Services – a good library, good roads, leisure facilities provided at public expense – all of these high end urban services cost money. We would say that in the days of ‘just over inflation’ tax increases the infrastructure for a very good life style has been built into Cobourg for many years. Consequently when people like Mr Pagnuelo and other wealthy retirees move into Town for an energetic retirement they will get it. But it has to be paid for – hence the higher level of taxes. We would say if you want to sit on your nest-egg and live the life of Reilly and pay fewer taxes while doing so, do not choose Cobourg. Go to a cheaper place; try Grafton or Colborne or if you want to pay really low taxes for what you get STAY IN TORONTO.
But back to the point, one thing if he is elected, he will save us money right at the start. He commits himself to an “Organisational Review” so that he will know what jobs to cut and what services to diminish. Well we have news for him – it has been done – last year and now sits on the shelf because nobody wants to implement it. It is what Mr Pagnueleo will do on day two is what interests us.
Anyway we do know from experience that nobody gains from the “taxfighters” all we do is lose services, after all when most of the Town’s jobs are directed to providing services for Citizens and taxfighters chop it is services that suffer. The best example of this was in the early Nineties when the Taxfighter from Hope Township took the reins at the County level. Reserves were drained, services were chopped and efficiency was affected all to provide a puny cut in the County levy. In fact after a couple of years Ian Angus and his incompetent CAO were gone and the replacements took ten years to rebuild the organisation and its finances.
All we can do is wish Mr Pagnuelo the best in his efforts to gain the position but caution the electorate that “Taxfighters” do more damage than good.
Mr Chair, I rise to speak at the first meeting after the Summer break and want to talk about a few things:
- We have on the Agenda a very glitzy paper that was prepared in our absence and I would like to congratulate the consultants for doing so after only one public meeting. They have produced a perfect blueprint for the external expansion of the lands surrounding the Community Centre. I agree with all of this but as no costs have been proffered, that is all I am prepared to do at this time. I make the motion that “Cobourg Council thank the consultants for a job well done and table the plan until this ‘shovel-ready’ plan qualifies for the next round of infrastructure funding.”
- Item IV.2 on the Agenda instructs the Staff to prepare a plan for the “Tannery Lands”. Presumably because the development industry in this Town wants nothing to do with the project it is up to us to get on with it. I would ask why is the Staff doing this in the absence of instructions to involve the public in this important piece of real estate in the middle of our Town? We must ask for, and establish, an ad-hoc committee to study all that can be done with the land at minimal cost, this ad-hoc committee will work with Staff and devise – together – a plan.
- Item XI.1 Suggests that we adopt the recommendation of Staff and establish this Park as a “passive” park to be naturalised. I would suggest that as the majority of the respondents wanted a use that the Town cannot allow under present policy – an off leash dog park – then we give the maintenance back to the GRCA, abrogate the agreement just signed and walk away, and let them pay for it.
Thank you Mr Chair I have no feelings on the rest of the Agenda and will vote Yea on all.