The shift started in the late 90’s under Mayor Murray.
The general consensus around this table is to shift $ 275. We differed on timing. Do it all on July 2, 2012 or do half then and half on July 2013? A shift over 12 months.
Some say just wait until they close. We weathered a $10 million non-payment, implying a mill closure would be easy to deal with. Not true.
We weathered a late payment -- ultimately paid in full, with interest. There’s a world of difference between getting paid late and not getting paid at all.
I favor $275 now. Splitting only temporarily saves the average taxpayer $11 a month -- while keeping them on the hook for a one-time amount three times as high if Crofton closed (like Campbell River did 2 years ago). And if they did close we’d face a permanent $550 shift or devastating service cuts on top of a one time shortage of $ 5.6 million -- one quarter of the revenues we use to fund our services.
All this while adjusting to the loss of $81 million in wages and contracts from the local economy. Why risk decimating our reserves and having to borrow heavily to make up the shortfall, when we plan to shift the whole thing in one year anyway?
Some say we shouldn’t make decisions based on “what if ...?”
All prudent management is based on “what if.”
Who among us goes without house insurance? Health insurance? Car insurance? -- Who goes without wearing a seatbelt, or carrying a jack in the trunk? Would anyone suggest we drop our municipal insurance premiums to save money?
This large shift’s timing has been precipitated by Catalyst’s precarious situation, but it’s not just about the ‘what if” It’s about fair, competitive taxation, business attraction AND prudent insurance. And it in no way precludes looking for efficiencies next year -- or every year after that. Making it all now gives us more time and energy to do so.
AND fixes the underlying problem that got us here -- by creating conditions to grow a diversified, sustainable economy that shares the tax burden and provides jobs. As both Councillors Koury and Lines have pointed out, business people are wary of investing in one-horse towns.
Our low residential taxes didn’t bring enough jobs or businesses to replace our lost forest jobs -- and as the census shows, they are no longer bringing a large influx of new taxpayers.
We are poised to attract all of these -- if we act decisively and work on growing our economy.
Finally, it’s our job to be proactive in looking after the well being of residents.
$275 now keeps us in the driver's seat -- not at the whim of wealthy investors from far away.
We all supported the full shift in principle.
Implying anyone voted on the timing for ‘political reasons’ insults us all, including NC voters. A shift this big -- now, or split over one calendar year -- is not something anyone will forget, not in three years, not in 10.
We weren't elected to make decisions we think will help us get re-elected, or elected anywhere else. We were elected to use our empathy, skills and brains -- with the complete and accurate information we spend hours each week reviewing -- to create the healthiest, most livable, sustainable community we can.
If we accomplish that, we can rest knowing we have done our duty.