"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Sunday 3 April 2011

Grace Marsh Said:

Grace Marsh has left a new comment on your post "The Big Push":


I'm sorry but this spreadsheet is very misleading.

The change in property tax payable by a local business has many factors that are beyond the Town's budgetary increase and the obvious Regional budget changes.

During the time period shown on the chart there were at least 5 Province wide reassessments and the taxes are affected by each reassessment.

Also in 1998, the seperate business tax was eliminated and combined with the property tax. This had a big effect on the total property taxes, however in 1999 legislation was introduced to protect business properties from large increases (capping/clawbacks) a a result of those changes. This is all Provincal legislation.

On top of that the Region has jurisdiction over other tax policies that greatly effect buiness taxes such as the tax ratios that determine the tax weight each class bears along with the amount of the clawback to be assessed.

I'm sure eveyone's eyes are glazing over by now, but my point is, the Towns budget is unfortunately just one small factor in the overall business tax levy.


Grace Marsh is  a tax consultant,who learned her craft working  many years in municipal treasuries,including the Town of Aurora.

In the 2006, Grace  was elected  to Council ,highly regarded as a person as well as  for a recognised  ability to make a substantial contribution to political  affairs. A year and a half was all  she could handle of the politics of envy and shrieking paranoia before Grace  resigned for her own peace of mind.

That being said, the details  of  a  small business operator's  tax experience in Aurora don't change the picture. It is at the municipal level, a business owner should expect to find  understanding of the various changes that impact his ability to survive.

Like a homeowner, taxes are not the only bill that has to be paid. Heat, light, maintenance and water and food on the table are  essential  to keeping body and soul together.

Is it the town's function to drive people out of  their homes and businesses with stuff like  purchases of culture,flower beds in arboretums,platinum sponsorship  scams that   produce nothing, nada, nil,zilch and zero.

Is it randomly waiving  fees for town facilities which cost money to provide and growing the bureaucracy willy-nilly despite the fact town  growth is coming to an end.

 Is it listening to the people in the comfortable pews who think taxation is a licence to steal. 

I don't think so.

In 1969, the province adopted market value as a measurement  for assessment.We see  now from Grace's details how well that  worked out.

 In 1991, the Mulrooney government signed a Free Trade Agreement.

Manufacturing jobs left Canada  by the millions and some people made more money than ever. It was  argued  service industries would provide the jobs.

Now we see how property taxes and other bureaucratic burdens , have reduced at least one small industry in Aurora by two jobs. No doubt that experience is multiplied thousands of times over in Ontario until we have been brought to the status of a have-not province.

We don't have to look beyond municipal boundaries to understand why.

Nero fiddled while Rome burned.


Anonymous said...

Evelyn it seems you are handicapped by virtue of your wealth of experience and insight into the intricacies of the Towns affairs at every level,
It has to be frustrating for you to say the least ,last term you were surrounded by no minds and twits this time you have all the right folks who are trying to find their way and do the right thing, Perhaps they should look at things a little differently and ask themselves but two questions… 1 If it was my own personal hard earned money would I spend it on many of the items on your list or would I reconsider, and 2, should we focus our spending on the nice to have things or the things we absolutely must have. Assuming these questions could be answered honestly , you would sort the wheat from the chaff in no time flat.

Elizabeth Bishenden said...

I am wondering what resources the Town has to increase its revenues besides increasing its property taxes.

Do user fees actually cover the entire costs involved in using Town Facilities? For example, if I rent the ice at the ACC for an hour, am I paying for the day to day costs involved in maintaining an ice surface, or am I contributing to the Leisure Services Department's on-going expenses, or to the capital costs that are associated with building sports and leisure facilities in Aurora, or to the costs of the entire Town?

Grace, maybe you have some insight into how Aurora does this and how other municipalities manage their user fees.

There are a lot of things in the budget that we all enjoy but don't pay user fees for, and there are a lot of things in the budget that few of us use that have user fees, and some that few of us use, for which there are no user fees.

Do town-owned facilities that have a limited membership and restricted access to the public (lawn bowling springs to mind) cover all their costs through user fees, or do we all contribute to the upkeeep of these clubs?

Also, what happens if something that was supposed to generate money has a shortfall? Then what happens to the budget?

Broderick Epps said...

Grace Marsh wrote "On top of that the Region has jurisdiction over other tax policies that greatly effect buiness taxes such as the tax ratios that determine the tax weight each class bears along with the amount of the clawback to be assessed. "

Since the death of Dick Illingsworth who is reporting on the goings on at the Regional Level.They seem to be operating in relative obscurity yet they have a huge impact on the taxes we pay.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous
You have hit the nail on the head with both of your questions, especially #2.
In light of the decision made last Tuesday night re paying the ex-mayor's legal fees I would like to see that one come out of the pockets of those who voted for funding the lawsuit in the first place and then see how deep THEIR pockets are.

Anonymous said...

Rightly or wrongly the council of the day approved the legal action and the expenses they incurred. The new council turned off the tap on any further expense, but unless they abide by the last council's decisions how can we expect them to make their own decisions on anything this term.

Now if the lawsuit unfolds and it appears the town can recoup those expenses from the former Mayor I am sure that avenue will be taken.

Unknown said...


Perhaps if you attended one of the budget sessions you would have become more informed on the town's Leisure services and user fees. I found Al Downey's presentation extremely informative in this area. he even fielded questions regarding user fees from the mayor and other councilors, including suggestions to raise the user fees. He was quite clear that an increase in user fees does not relate in an increase in revenues, so the two are not tightly linked.

Elizabeth Bishenden said...


It would be great if I could go to the meetings. I am not at them because I have other commitments.

Your response is much appreciated. These blogs are a great way for those who have information to graciously share it with those who have questions or make factual errors in their posts.