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Be mindful of tax increases, resident advises

No stranger to Woolwich’s budget process, Breslau resident Peter Durksen has some advice for the township’s new council: curtail the tax increases.
He brought that message to councillors meeting in a committee-of-the-whole session Tuesday night.
Noting that taxes have increased at twice the rate of inflation over the last four years, he suggested the township aim to keep the 2015 increase, including a special infrastructure levy, to slightly less than last year’s inflation rate of 2.2 per cent. Currently, Woolwich is looking at a 3.5 per cent hike.
Acknowledging that the township’s portion of his tax bill amounts to about a quarter, with more than half going to the Region of Waterloo and the rest to the school board, he challenged councillors to take the message of restraint to the region and the province.
“Regarding regional taxes, some might say that Woolwich does not set the regional taxes, so you are not responsible for them. I want to remind you that you have a voice on regional council through our mayor. That voice needs to be heard,” he said.
“But I don’t want to place all of that responsibility on the shoulders of our mayor. I urge each of you as councillors to establish a relationship with councillors in the other [municipalities] in our region, and also with the elected members on regional council. Speak to them about the need to control regional taxes.”
Township officials can send the same message to the province, he added. Likewise, pushing for changes to the arbitration system, which has greatly inflated the salaries of police and firefighters, whose pay comes directly from the local tax base.
“What can I as one ordinary citizen, and you as councillors do to break the pattern of excessive spending? A paraphrase of a quote from Edmund Burke might be helpful: The only thing necessary for wanton government spending to continue is for good people to do nothing.”
“We have heard the message,” Coun. Patrick Merlihan told Durksen.

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