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In 2006 I was re-elected to City Council on a platform of lower taxes. During my term of Council I worked diligently to bring taxes down from a high of 7-6-7% in 2003-2006 to a more sustainable level (around 2% or the cost of living). I was appointed Chair of the Audit Committee and by 2010 with the help of Council, administration and our city employees, we were able to bring tax increases below inflation while maintaining services and increasing our investment in infrastructure through:
Respecful questioning of administration
A more comprehensive budget process that includes public consultation
A line-by-line review of budget items
Continuous improvement practices (doing things better and working smarter to find efficiencies)
In 2011 the City received a financial windfall of $3.5 Million per year when the Hospital debenture was finally paid off. Most citizens were expecting some tax relief, but these savings were quickly incorporated into the overall budget, never to be heard of again. Since then, tax increases of 3-4%, substantially higher water rates (50% in the last 3 years alone) and other user fees have made it difficult for taxpayers to maintain their homes and quality of life.
To maintain low taxes while continue our investment in needed services and infrastructure like roads, we need to speed up our growth potential as a city while spending wisely. We have done it before and we can do it again!
We can do this by creating a positive climate for new investment; helping local businesses expand and grow by reducing red tape and bureaucracy and through a comprehensive plan to revitalize Thunder Bay.