Courtenay city hall

LETTER – Courtenay resident implores council to consider a tax freeze

Good day, Mr. Mayor and council members,

Here we are coming to the end of a very challenging year that I’m sure we would all like to forget.

As the year ends you will be working on the 2021 city budget and that is what I want to discuss.

Our city does have its share of corporate giants employing hundreds. These large employers, for the most part, pay minimum wage for part-time work so of the hundreds employed only a very few, if any, would qualify for a$200-300,000 mortgage on an average$400-500,000 home here in our city. The corporate giants do create employment and are certainly good for our tax base but if pushed too hard they do have a breaking point and will leave, I do feel you should be very cognizant of that.

My main concern is for the hundreds of small independent entrepreneurs struggling every day to remain viable. Most of these hard-working people, that are the lifeblood of our community, have been severely impacted with this present pandemic. Many were forced to close completely for months and are now burdened with paying for the extra safety protocols while also seeing a 40 to 60 per cent decline in revenue. These businesses simply cannot be subjected to any sort of a tax increase.

I hear over and over from the federal and provincial governments “we are all in this together” yet you, the city, seem to be oblivious to the current economic situation with staff and projects continuing on as if there were no pandemic. I completely understand that critical core infrastructure maintenance or upgrades must continue but all other non-essential work should be terminated with a serious review of major projects that have, for the time being, become unaffordable.

It’s troubling for me that the city wants to carry on as if immune, hiding in its own denial bubble with seemingly no regard towards our economic base that is on life support, yet in turn is still expected to pay for such extravagance. Recovery completely depends on a strong functioning economic base, local business must be encouraged and supported not taxed into demise.

I can not emphasize this strongly enough, something has to be done within the city to cut costs in these very troubling times. The business community and the residents can’t be saddled with yet another unjustified, unsustainable, unfair tax increase of any sort. We all want to work thru this pandemic and return to a vibrant, financially viable business and residential community but will need your help.

Please know and believe there is no extra money out there. The city needs to understand that due to this worldwide pandemic there will be serious financial consequences for years to come if spending is left unchecked.

We, the citizens, simply ask that you (the city) please prudently, fairly, in good conscience spend “our” collective money the same way you would prudently spend “your” own personal hard-earned money.

In these troubled times we buy what we need and not necessarily what we want, don’t overextend just because you can.

Careful financial planning coupled with frugal spending thus avoiding any more punishing tax increases will help us through this.

Phil Diede,

Courtenay

Letter to the Editor